It was my last semester of university. I was proud of myself. I had gone my whole life without ever taking academic performance enhancing drugs. I knew friends with prescriptions. I could have gotten them if I wanted for a small price. But I never did. And then, with the end literally right around the corner, my final days numbered, my college career ending, I broke.

I know you’re not supposed to do it. Although that doesn’t stop it from happening all over the country at different campuses, and more recently, at jobs. It’s sad how common it is. Young adults messing with their own bodies and minds to achieve greatness, or happiness, fulfillment. But it happens. It happened, to me.

I  had a final portfolio and a final paper due the same day as a final test. For anyone that’s a lot to handle. For me, the professional procrastinator I am, it was too much. I was able to pull it off in the past. But this was different. I couldn’t be satisfied with “just getting by.” I had to graduate. It was a last ditch effort to boost my GPA from its mediocrity. I felt pressured, sure. And I was afraid that my best (generally speaking) wouldn’t be enough. I needed something to give me an edge, a way to focus more than what my body would allow.

And my dear friend Annie, (not her real name), stepped up to the plate. She gave me one pill. It was a higher dosage, and it being my first time, it was recommended to take half first, see how I felt, and then follow with the rest if necessary.

With my faux doc’s parting words I made my way toward the library. I took a Gatorade (Whoo product placement!) into a bathroom stall. “Welp, down the hatch,” I told myself as i took half the pill. Or something of that nature, I don’t remember. That was almost two years ago. I digress…I swallow, cleansing my throat and conscience with the drink.

A few minutes later I’m sitting at a computer. Studying furiously? Finishing that paper? Working on my portfolio? No. Sitting. Staring. I hear EVERYTHING. That guy at the other end of the room, his music isn’t that loud, but he has one ear bud out and I can faintly hear Eminem. To my right I hear a perfect conversation between group project members. They have to be a good 30 yards away. Every click on every mouse, every smacking of gum, that heavy breathing kid two rows down, on the third computer. It’s all so prominent. Annoying, right? But of course that’s not all. I can focus on everything at once. Darting from the tiles in the ceiling to the words on any computer within my line of sight, to the crumb falling out of a girl’s mouth as she half hazardously force feeds herself in an attempt to fuel her inevitable crash. I see EVERYTHING. I can literally focus on everything, except my own work.

My friend tells me to go to the bathroom to try and regroup, along with the other half of the pill. I swallow my pride and go into the handicap stall. If I’m gonna do this I need privacy and room at the same time. I take the other half. I look up at the wall. I notice count all of the tiles from the floor to the ceiling within seconds. I didn’t think that I could count that fast but somehow I did. Normally I’m very careful and methodical but everything just flowed. It was like watching a movie but in slow motion, and yet still fast enough for me to comprehend what was happening. I gather my thoughts and regain my composure.

Back at the computer I become a super cog. I knock out my portfolio. I finish my paper. I read several chapters for my test. All before the sun woke up, not without a 5 minute trip (normally a 10 minute walk, easily) to McDonald’s because I needed a drink. Apparently Adderall gave me the worst cotton-mouth imaginable.

I turned my paper in with a few hours to spare. As I realize that I needed to walk across campus to turn in my portfolio, I also realize that the drug has yet to end its journey. Class flies by. Up next, my test. I finish faster than normal and fairly certain that I got at least a high B, which is what I was hoping for at that point.With my life finally complete, I let the drug finish. And that’s when it happened.

Have you ever had a hangover? Probably, most people who have had too many drinks and not enough nutrients or water have experienced that horrid nightmare. Have you ever felt like you were going to die? Your body feels like you spent the past several days in a never ending workout? As though you were in the ring with Anderson Silva and Holly Holm at the same time? Where you thought it would be easier just to die rather than suffer any longer, but not really die because then you would never be able to drink again, though you swear you never will let alcohol touch your lips ever again, but you know deep down you’re lying to yourself and you really mean that you will never drink again, until the next night?

My post-Adderall feeling was basically like that. I was glad that I got my stuff done. I was thankful for the most productive night of my life. But I made a promise that day. To myself, I promised that I would never take Adderall, or any drug like that, ever. And to this day I’ve kept that promise. Yes, it was helpful at that one time. Was it worth it? That’s a debate I still have within myself. I say no, due to my decision to never revisit that drug, or anything like it.

Could I have still done well without it? Would I have gotten that B? Would I have finished that portfolio? That paper took me from failing to a B in a class, by the way. Granted, I’m pretty confident in my writing skills, but would I have had the motivation and focus to get it done during crunch time all the while completing my other tasks? I don’t know. And I never will know. What’s done is done.

I guess my point is, don’t take a drug that isn’t for you. If you have not been diagnosed, if you have not gone to a pharmacy to get a prescription filled, do not put your body through that. And yeah, what I went through could be an anomaly, however, that’s no reason to just carry on with your ways, or to start doing something that seems attractive.

There are plenty of alternatives to try beforehand. Go see a trained professional. They can help find something that works for you.

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