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Articles, The ADHD Diaries

The ADHD Diaries: Introduction to Coffee

I am not a coffee drinker

At the age of 26, I got through high school, college, a traditional 8-5 office job, and the start of a writing career, all without coffee.

How is this possible? Well, the Adderall helped.

I’ve been on (doctor prescribed) ADD meds since I was a child. Coupled with childhood therapy to help develop strategies for the day-to-day managing of my ADD, it’s a treatment that’s worked well for me.

The dose and type of med I’m on has changed over the years to suit my needs. And the latest adjustment was a shift from the long-acting “extended release” meds (~12 hours, though they usually peter out sooner) to the shorter lasting “immediate release” meds. For me, these last 5-6 hours, though I expect that to decrease as I get used to them.

The reason for this switch is simple: I no longer need the extended release. In all past phases of my life, I had work or school that required me to be focused and “ON” all the time. In recent years, I’ve learned to use my “disability” to my advantage, to make a new kind of productivity, but there were still times when I didn’t really have a choice. The structure of the organization, task, or expectations at hand forced me to confirm to a more neurotypical type of productivity. These sorts of tasks required me to be “ON” for long stretches of time.

But my life is different now.

My work is what I make of it, and it’s something I genuinely enjoy at that. Though my ADD is still a factor in my life, and still something that can make things a little extra difficult at times, I no longer need the same constant near-neurotypical focus I did before. I talked it over with my doctor and we agreed to scale me back.

So far it’s been going well. I mainly use the medication for getting projects started. My biggest challenge with my ADD is what I call “the inertia.” Once I get something going, I can usually keep it going with little effort (provided it’s something of interest to me). But getting started is almost always a challenge. That’s where meds come in. I take them right before sitting down to work and I’m able to see the work through to the end, even if the meds wear off before I’m done.

There is, however, one tiny drawback: I now have to face mornings just like everyone else.

Before, when I had meds that would last for hours and hours (and took at least 20 minutes to kick in), I took my meds when I woke up in the morning. By the time I was done with breakfast, I was reasonably awake and ready to begin my day.

Now, though, well… ugh. I understand why every other person in my life is a little “meh” in the mornings.

The obvious solution would be to take my meds first thing in the morning, and for a while I was doing that. In order to make the most use of my work window, this meant I did all my usual morning stuff (like showering) a little later in the day. But it also meant having less flexibility with my medication. If I needed more focus for something later on in the day, I delay taking my meds… which makes for a less optimal morning.

Coffee for people who don’t like coffee

And so I come to the solution that every other adult around me has used for years. Coffee. Or, more specifically, mochas. I’m one of those people who dislikes the taste of coffee but loves the smell. I also love mocha fudge and tiramisu, so the solution to “I hate coffee how do I learn to like this stuff?” was to learn how to make a mocha.

Turns out, it’s not that hard. And since I’m a caffeine lightweight, it doesn’t take much to have the desired effect.

And there it is. 26 years old and finally becoming a coffee drinker. Sort of.

Here’s the recipe I use, by the way. It’s a good way for the non-coffee person to get into coffee, and perfect for the consummate morning person who needs to maintain her routine.

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