In September 2011, I was diagnosed with ADHD and put on a stimulant medication (40mg Vyvanse) after I was really struggling in school. It was an option that we thought was for the best at the time because at that point I was a freshman in college, failing every test I took. Being medicated changed everything for me, giving me insight into my strengths and talents, showing me that I AM smart! It was such a blessing at the time, really giving me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and really take action on my dreams and aspirations. For the first time, I actually was able to believe that I might be able to do all of things that I wanted to do with my life.
12 years later, I’ve made the decision to get off of my medication, which is why I wanted to make this post. There are so many people that are looking for the tools, resources and guidance to living with ADHD and I wanted to be the person to give hope to those who need it.
Throughout this post, I’m going to talk about WHY I decided to get off of my medication, HOW I got off it and STRATEGIES that I’ve used to make the transition. Save this post because I’m laying out all of the deets, including the ones that nobody wants to talk about. Let’s do this.
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Why I decided to get off of my ADHD medication
I always knew that being on the medication wasn’t going to be forever because of the side effects & the nature of the drug. I was able to manage the different side effects for about a decade, but for 2 years, I really struggled to manage them.
These side effects included:
- Extreme anxiety to the point where I was having daily panic attacks over seemingly nothing
- Frequent battles with depression
- High blood pressure (my doctor wanted to put me on blood pressure medication when I was just 28 years old.)
- Constant racing heart rate
- Constipation (I got to the point where I wouldn’t go to the bathroom with out it. When I did go, it wasn’t healthy.)
- Anger issues
- Horrible acne
I got to the point where I felt like the medication completely took over my body. It seemed like it wasn’t even helping my ADHD anymore because my time was consumed with managing the symptoms. I knew that the only thing I could do was get off of my body and incorporate different lifestyle strategies into my routine.
My body was telling me that it was time. The medication helped me get to this point, but it was time for me to start living without it because it reached it’s threshold of being able to help me. It was time to say goodbye to a really important & empowering time in my life and take on a whole new adventure. For those who can relate, you understand how important this is. But, I knew that this was going to be an experience learning how to operate without a stimulant and letting my body adjust to not having the drug in my system anymore.
How I got off of my ADHD medication
I made the decision before discussing it with my doctor because I hit a breaking point with how it was making my body feel. I knew that I had an appointment with her in 6 weeks and didn’t want to wait for her approval. So, I just got started.
The very first thing that I did was go to TikTok and do a search to see if anyone was posting any tips that I might find helpful. What I learned absolutely BLEW MY MIND! Essentially, if you have ADHD, your brain is wired differently, but you are trying to operate in a world made for the neurotypical. If you can learn how to hack your own brain and incorporate strategies that work for YOU, it’s an absolute GAME.CHANGER.
After I took notes and figured out the different strategies that I wanted to try, I started weaning myself off of the medication. I started off with taking half of my dose and going from there (I took half until I got the green light from my doctor). I found this to be the most helpful as I was able to try out the different lifestyle changes at the different dosages. Once I felt like I was comfortable with the dose and my body was adjusted to it, I would decrease it even more. The whole weaning process took about 2.5 months.
Related: Tips for adjusting to life changes when you don’t handle change well, How prioritizing myself & finally putting myself first changed my life, How you can completely change your life in one year
Strategies that worked for me
The Pomodoro Technique–
This productivity technique has helped me so much! It’s where you work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, repeat 4x then take a longer break. It’s really helped me with making sure that I’m not getting hyper focused on a task and work myself to burnout. It also helps when I don’t “feel” creative or inspired, I tell myself to just try for 25 minutes and see what happens. I’ve been able to get so much done and accomplished since implementing this strategy!
Related: Simple tips for getting over burnout & feeling productive again, Time management strategies to increase productivity & get more done
When I first started using the pomodoro technique, I was using the timer on my phone, but after a couple weeks I got bored with it. So, I ordered this time timer on Amazon! I chose to get this one specifically because I didn’t want one that ticks as it’s winding down. It’s also a nice visual to my desk and allows me to put my phone away while I’m trying to get work done. Using it as I’m writing this post! CLICK HERE for the one that I use 🙂
Sticky Notes– Something that I REALLYYYY struggle with is decision paralysis. I used to look at my long to-do list and get overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to start, so I ended up not getting anything done.
So, what I’ve done is put specific items on a sticky note (even make ones for chores i.e. cleaning the litterbox, checking the mail, making a grocery list, making a phone call, unloading the dishwasher, etc.)
I have a bag that I keep every item in because I reuse all of the sticky notes.
At the end of every day, I organize the sticky notes into a separate bag for that day’s to-do list. When it’s time to get to work, I dump all the items into a basket and randomly pull one of the items and that’s the task I get done. Some take longer to complete, while others will take just a couple minutes. Doing this has taken away all of the decision paralysis and has helped me with talking myself out of doing something. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been able to get so much more done than when I was on my medication!!
I also put different “break” items on sticky notes to pull randomly between each task. No more decision paralysis because the decision is already made for me! Wins all around.
Putting on headphones while working– I think a lot of people can agree that they prefer listening to music while working. It’s something that I NEED in order to be able to focus. I even started putting in headphones while I’m meal prepping and cleaning the apartment. Before, I would dread getting these things done, but it makes it so much more enjoyable and goes so much faster!!
Moving my desk away from the window– Some people say that they prefer having their desk facing the window for the natural sunlight, but I found it to be distracting. The window in my office faces the parking lot of my complex and I found myself getting distracted by movement outside.
Utilize the reminders app in my phone– I have an iPhone and I’m not sure what options other phones have, but the reminders app has really helped when I absolutely don’t want to forget to do something. I will set a task to a specific time and put it on high priority so it doesn’t leave the front of my phone until I “check” it off. It’s helpful too when I’m packing for a trip and don’t want to forget something the morning of (like my phone charger).
Cycle syncing my tasks throughout the month to create structure- I am someone who really CRAVES structure. When I am in a routine, I get into such a good momentum that I don’t want it to ever stop. Especially when it comes to deciding what business elements to focus on, I found that it was almost impossible to figure out how to structure everything. It wasn’t until I learned about cycle syncing that everything changed.
As women, our hormones function on a 28-day cycle, which means that we will be feeling differently and operating differently at the different phases. Once I learned how to work WITH my body during the different phases, it helped me organize my tasks in a way that made all the sense to me.
Here are the phases and how I have broken down the tasks:
- Follicular Phase (week after your period) – Energy levels increase, high creativity. I focus on research, planning, and brainstorming.
- Ovulatory Phase– Energy & confidence are highest. Film videos for my social pages, increased interaction with others.
- Luteal Phase– Energy levels start to drop as the menstrual phase gets closer. It’s a good week for organizing & planning for the upcoming month.
- Menstrual Phase– I put ZERO pressure on myself for this week. I rely on everything that I’ve put together in the weeks leading up to my period to continue showing up. During this week, I do deep reflections, set goals & intentions for the upcoming month.
Stopped trying to force myself to sit at my desk for hours at a time- I had to finally come to terms with the fact that I am NOT built to be able to sit at my desk for hours and hours and hours. When I was trying to FORCE myself, it lead to a paralyzing amount of pressure and would eventually lead to burnout. Not to mention, it took away from the enjoyment that I have working on my business that I love so much. Breaking down my work periods into 25 minute increments and giving myself many breaks have helped me so much!
Mints while I work- This was one that I found out on my own. It’s just been a nice addition to my workday 🙂 I personally loveee the lifesaver mints- I keep a baggy full on my desk!
Strategies that didn’t work for me, but might work for you
Reward system– In my research, I saw that a lot of people use reward systems for when they complete a task. So, if they completed X, Y and Z, they would be able to do something that they find appealing. What I found is that this put way too much pressure on myself, started feeling bad about myself and indulged in the reward anyway. I think this definitely depends heavily on your personality. It didn’t work for me, but it might work for you!
Body doubling– This is when you work next to someone. Like, going to a coffee shop with a friend or doing work at the kitchen table with a spouse. Personally, I prefer working by myself because I get too distracted.
Digital calendars– Seriously, everywhere that I looked, people were talking about how digital calendars helped them so much since they are able to connect it with all of their devices. But, I personally love my planner! I’m obsessed with my Day Designer planner and don’t get the same satisfaction with using a google calendar.
The mission that I hope to accomplish is giving hope to people that there ARE strategies out there for them. It’s very frustrating to try to operate in a world that functions neuro-typically, making you feel like there is no hope for you. I know how discouraging it can feel when you don’t fit into the box that everyone seems to flourish in. Remember- every single person is different. What works for others might not mean that it’s going to be right for you. It’s about finding the unique strategy the works for YOU! I hope this post and the strategies that I talked about are helpful for you and give you hope that you TOO can figure out the strategy that works wonders for you. I truly believe that if I can figure out a strategy that works for me, so can you. <3
If you are looking for someone to guide you through the process of figuring out what your unique strategy is, I invite you to check out my Mindset & Confidence coaching opportunities. It can make the journey so much easier and more enjoyable having someone by your side, guiding you through the process. Even if you just want to get on a FREE discovery call with me to chat about it!
Also, make sure you check out my downloadable resources!
>> click here to download my Ultimate Goal Setting & Planning guide
>> click here to learn more about my secret life changing check in system
>> click here to download my Step-by-Step Guide to Handling Stress & Overwhelm
>> click here to download my Self Care Planning Worksheet
>> click here to download my 50 journal prompts for self reflection & self discovery
Coach Jessie Shibko