The PRICE of Perfection

Sophomore shares true experience of taking common ADHA medication


It’s scary to know that at any point my heart could just stop because of a doctor-prescribed medication. Even if I do what the doctors say and even though the doctors say it is safer than Adderall. What is even more concerning is the fact that 11 percent of children have ADHD, and about three out of four children are given Vyvanse, a dangerous ADHD medication.

I’m not a rare case. I got diagnosed after a semester of horrible grades, just like many others. Along with ADHD, I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety which is common considering that 64 percent of children with ADHD are also diagnosed with another mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. (Autism Spectrum Disorder and dysgraphia were previously diagnosed.)
I was diagnosed with ADHD in late 2018, but it wasn’t until early 2019 that I first got my medication. Ever since my first pill of Vyvanse, my life has changed. In a way that looks good, but feels miserable. Before the medication I had no work ethic, I failed classes, I was lost in my conscience, and I felt like a disappointment. My first semester of high school was my lowest point. I felt like a nobody and my grades reflected that. I felt so lost and contemplated just giving up.

Fortunately, after my first pill, there was a change in my mentality. For the first time I saw how smart and efficient I could truly be, but it came at a cost. Now, I feel as if I can only reach my potential with this pill. I’ve come to understand how “useless” I am without my medication. It gave me a new perspective on my existence, and it was hard to not be disappointed.

I know the side effects aren’t healthy. I know losing 25 pounds isn’t normal, but it’s hard to care when you’re doing so well. I struggle to speak sometimes. I shake often. It hurts when I don’t eat all day. But, it’s all an afterthought when I realize how much I can achieve with this “miracle” pill.

I knew something was wrong, even when I first started taking Vyvanse, a central nervous system stimulant medication. I wasn’t anywhere close to being happy at my previous school, but that wasn’t an excuse to isolate myself to just work on projects months ahead of the due date. My life became even more solitary and more repetitive. I lost interest in my passions and the world was just grey.

When I moved schools, I had the belief I would finally be happy, but some struggles followed me. People are nice and I have friends, but I struggle to talk and it feels like my personality is gone. I’m just a husk of my real self and I’m aware of it.

Even with all the struggles, I am a “success” in other terms. I got all A’s for the semester and I did well on the PSAT. My grades are the best they have ever been, and I’ve accomplished more this year than any other year. I can now be the student I want to be, but at what cost?

The question more students with ADHD should ask is, “Is it worth it?” Are the starvation and mental health risks worth the good grades? Is your life so dictated by school that you should rid yourself of what makes you “you”?

Although there isn’t a good solution currently for students with ADHD, shoving dangerous pills down our throats shouldn’t be the first step, yet this is still the most common “cure”. If we don’t take the pill, we’re a failure at school, but our mind is free. If we take the pill we are a success at school, but our bodies and mind suffer from the side effects. This shouldn’t be the only reality for those of us with this condition. I don’t know what the answer is, but something has to change.