Prior to the beginning of my epic collapse, our family lives a charmed life. I enjoy success in all my business ventures and we always have the things that make life comfortable and balanced. My three oldest daughters say their childhood and growing up years are like a fairy tale, and they are.
My wife is able to stay at home and is always there to nurture and care for our children. I am usually either working, starting and building businesses, or busy with church service. Okay, there is my fair share of golfing as well.
For a little over 4 years, I serve as a bishop in our church over a large congregation. This is a very special time in our lives, and we are blessed to serve and be surrounded by so many incredible people who to this day we love dearly. These are busy years, but years rich in service, progress, advancement, and wonderful friend and family relationships. For the first 20 years of our marriage, I don’t recall ever being depressed. In fact, I remember telling my wife once, “I can’t even think myself into depression if I try.” I feel happy, grateful, and richly blessed. That’s not to say we don’t have challenges, setbacks, and even trials. We do. There are good days and bad ones. But, the prevailing momentum in our lives is one of progress, fulfillment, growth, and success. We feel purpose and meaning in our lives. Our future seems bright and full of promise.
Although for the most part, I’m enjoying professional, family, and social success, I am also secretly battling with severe ADHD as I have my whole life (I’m diagnosed as a kid, but ultimately refuse treatment). It had always been a constant struggle to try to cope and manage the wide range of symptoms of this neurodevelopmental disorder. It is virtually impossible for me to maintain consistency in my focus, schedule, and efforts. As I begin my entrepreneurial career, I struggle mightily focusing on the details and the mundane tasks that are essential to running a successful business. As is common with those with ADHD, I have trouble controlling my impulses, moods, and my reactions to others. This all puts considerable strain on my relationships with people, mostly those closest to me, including friends, co-workers, and my wife. Around the age of 33, someone close to me suggests I try medication. He had tried it, and it helped him immensely. I shrug it off. I have never had anything foreign in my system (even to this day, I’ve never had a sip of alcohol, smoked a cigarette, or done any illegal drugs). Plus, I have to admit, I don’t want to be “one of those people” who rely on or need medication to be happy or successful. My prideful and ignorant views of those who need medication for mental or emotional reasons would radically change over the next several years.
After many more months pass though and a recognition that little to no progress ever comes from my constant and exhaustive effort to fight against it, I reluctantly mention my life struggle with ADHD to my doctor. He prescribes me Adderall. What I now know as a Schedule II, highly addictive drug.
I’ll never forget the first time I take it though. I’m sitting at my desk at work and can’t believe what I’m experiencing. Tasks that were seemingly impossible before, all of a sudden not only become effortless, but enjoyable at the same time. I feel calm and focused. Little inconveniences are no longer a big deal. I remember calling my wife ecstatic. The first words out of my mouth are, “Is this what it feels like to be normal?” I hang up the phone and literally tear up; I am in such amazement. I am also as naive as one could get to the potential dangers of this drug as well as the addictive gene that lurks ever so dormant inside of me.
My main concern is whether or not it is safe to take. My doctor assures me it is and even tells me his own daughter is on it. This mostly mollifies my concerns. I feel a little embarrassed being on it, so I try to make sure not to tell anyone. Only my wife and I know at first. Little do I know at the time that this one decision, the decision to take my first dose of this medication legitimately prescribed to me by a competent doctor for a legitimate disorder, would ultimately and significantly contribute to the total demise of my entire life.