Phone call. It’s Melissa.

“Hi,” she says. “Can I come see you today? I can get a flight out of Austin at 5pm.”

Of course I say yes. I assume she is breaking up with her boyfriend because she’s pretty much agoraphobic except for going to the stable to ride her horse or going to the office for her job. Both of which require only sporadic household departures.

“No. Everything is great,” she says. She explains that she has decided to try Adderall. She popped one pill at 9am. At 9:30 she felt a tightening in her stomach and a rush in the front of her head. At 9:50 she called me.

I am upset that she discovers all the good things before I do. When I was 27, why was I not finding fun pharmaceuticals to improve my wellbeing?

1. Judge your pharmaceutical choices by deciding if you attract good people when you are on the medication.

The update from Melissa – besides that she is finding the perfect drug regimen for herself – is that she has a boyfriend.

Actually she moved in with him. Here she is painting his bedroom.

But I don’t want you to think I’ve been holding out on reporting this. I wrote the Melissa-has-a-boyfriend post but by the time I was ready to finish it, they were practically married and the post seemed outdated.

Not that I actually wrote that post. But I thought about it. I thought about it every time some guy would send me an email asking if Melissa is single. I should turn my blog into a dating site because Melissa has had a lot of offers. And I keep thinking I need to write a post about how she has a boyfriend, but then I think, what if the boyfriend doesn’t work out? I don’t want to kill her chances for finding someone through my blog.

She’s 27, and every time she’s at my house and I’m coaching someone on the phone about figuring out how to get married and have kids when they are already 33, Melissa gets panicky and thinks she has to find a husband. And of course I am no help, because I’m a big believer in having all your kids before you’re 35.

So the guy’s name is Steven. And let me just say that among the guys I’ve hated who Melissa has dated, Steven is a diamond. Just a really great guy. And this is saying a lot because when Melissa doesn’t have a boyfriend, I get all her attention, which is really nice. I have the most to lose when Melissa has a good guy in her life. But really, Steven is good.

Here’s why:

First,  it was actually an uphill battle for Melissa to be attracted to a guy who is not fucked up. Steven had to push really hard for second and third dates. At one point, Melissa told me that she thinks she likes his dog, Hannah, better than him.

He has trained Hannah in that perfect, this-dog-does-anything way. And, on top of that, she cuddles, which was great for Melissa, before she found Adderall. The great thing about Steven is that it turns out that he knew this about Melissa, and he kept it to himself as he won her over.

Also, Steven has a really cool job. He programs video games. This means that my kids love him. They want to record themselves playing Mario on the Wii and put it online. Steven watches this type of  video on YouTube all the time, and he has great knowledge about how to set up the recording, so he is a hero to my sons. This is important, because I think my sons might have thought that they were going to marry Melissa.

Another thing I like about Steven is he said he did not want to be on the blog. This is a sign of a sane person. I can go through the list of men who I dated while I had my blog, and there is a direct correlation between how much they loved being on my blog and how much they loved being crazy. This is also a problem, though. Melissa says, “Steven is going to last. So you can’t do anything bad to him on the blog.” This, of course, is a veiled reference to Cullen. Who Melissa is not allowed to mention because Steven is sick of hearing about her ex boyfriends, but it’s my blog, so I can mention them. This is a problem I’m familiar with. The Farmer hates being on my blog. And somehow we navigate through that.

2. If you medicate to stop behaviors and feelings that undermine you, then you’ll find a new ability to make changes throughout all aspects of your life.

So Melissa is here, on the farm, on Adderall and I have to say, I’m impressed with it. (Though I’ve been enthralled with the possibilities of Addrall for a while.)

Melissa has been on anxiety medicine for a few years. When I first met her, she was on nothing. And she was nuts. She was sort of earning a lot of money but completely unattached to the world, sort of floating through jobs, collecting huge paychecks for her eidetic memory which is generally useless but still always intoxicating to potential employers. She was a ball of anxiety.  I met her when she was asking me for career advice and I told her to take a long vacation. Like a year. That was my advice.

So you have watched her scale back her life—that’s the story of Melissa on this blog. But as she scaled back her life and medicated herself for anxiety, she ended up spending a lot of time in bed. Asleep.

Not that this didn’t stop me from doing what she did. When my therapist told me that my anxiety was getting in the way of me ever being close to someone, he pointed to the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. He said it carefully. Probably because it might be the most socially unacceptable diagnosis you can have. But he is not the only person to have suggested it.

There is almost always a childhood trauma that causes this mental disorder. And in my case, that is surely the case. So it is not like there’s anything I can do now, except make myself better. So I looked at how much less anxiety Melissa had after the medication, and I got myself some.

Let me just say that after having a diagnosis of Asperger’s and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, it’s pretty easy to get any medication I want.

So I have been on Zoloft, for anxiety, and it’s been putting me to sleep. And I feel like Melissa. Except that I am not childless, living with a game programmer who adores me no matter what I’m doing. I’m living with two kids and a husband who need me to wake up every day and make the day happen.

So for my family, it’s better for me to be constantly sleepy, but even-keeled and reasonable than to be anxious and insecure and screaming. Which, frankly, is me when I am not on anxiety medicine.

So when Melissa showed up with the Adderall, first I told her she is too bouncy for me.

She said, “No I’m not. I’m my regular self. But without the anxiety.”

3. Don’t be scared of side effects; often they’re a really nice surprise.

She asked me to make her chocolate chip cookie dough. That’s what she eats when she’s here.  Out of the bowl. I make her eat it in the kitchen so the kids don’t see.

While I am mixing butter and eggs, she says, “I think I should be an editor. Can you help me get an editor job?”

And she said, “I think I know how to get a company funded.”

I said, “Do you have an idea?”

She said, “No. But you always have ideas. And I know this guy who really likes me and he wants to fund something I’m doing and he likes Lego so much and you are going to the Lego buildoff with your kids and we should get him tickets, too.”

I said, “I am trying the Adderall tomorrow.  I’m sick of sleeping.”

And here we are. Both on Adderall. It’s so great. And it suppresses appetite. Neither of us could believe more people don’t use Adderall to get thin. And then Melissa googled and found that it is prescribed for obesity.

Melissa says I should not tell you how great Adderall is because there’s a shortage. There’s a great article in New York magazine about how Adderall is going for $11 a pill.

I tell Melissa there is not a shortage in Darlington, WI. We can get ten bottles here. Wait, maybe this will be our new business.

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  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    should people with anxiety tell their condition in interviews? to be honest my industry only people on medication or have anxiety succeed! If I did not have anxiety I would have not have achieved anything. I read from HBR years back that people who are anxcious should work for someone they have strong chemistry. I did notice that when I had inspiring bosses, who were equally male and attractive I enjoyed my job and did well as I was soo looking forward everyday trying to impress them and get their attention. That is why I find it difficult earlier in my career to work for women and I am still bad it. I find them tricky and really hoping my new with 2 female bosses and 3 female colleagues, I manage any diffiency in my interpersonal skills! hormones! they seem stable women tho so I am blessed! I will be fine!

  2. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    Adderall is great, having taken it for five years myself. But I highly recommend Vyvanse. My psychiatrist says: Do you want to ride a bus or do you want to ride a limo? Which left me little choice, obvs.

  3. Iain
    Iain says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t Adderall just reformulated amphetamines?

    The same ones that were prescribed widely in the 60s and 70s for things like depression, anxiety and obesity, then restricted when people found out how disastrous they could be?

    And almost the same drug that the DEA sucks up billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to stop people from making at home?

    Whenever I hear about pharmaceutical companies pulling shit like this, I’m reminded of the quote “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

    Oh, and Penelope… if you’re looking for a drug that can drastically improve your life without having to take it every day, I can recommend finding some good quality Ecstasy.

    Having extensively sampled almost everything both, I’d say it has a far higher benefit:risk ratio than amphetamine.

    Of course, it’s illegal, and thus ‘evil and deadly’, but that’s politics for you. I’m sure it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the patent has expired and thus Pharma can’t make any money out of it.

    Personally, I’d be far happier with my kids taking it than Adderall. (which is not to say I’d encourage my kids to take drugs of any kind. Just a lesser-of-two-evils thing, y’know)

  4. Jon
    Jon says:

    Typical of what this blog has become – go check out the Seth Godin “book review” – Penelope makes a decision with her life, for whatever reason good or bad, then thinks everyone should live their life that way. It’s terribly ironic since she pretends to champion being an individual and everyone living their life their way. On the contrary, she insists everyone do what she does because she has the luxury of “researching” everything to death (note – one can find any research to support anything you WANT to believe) and everything she recommends is done so through the filter of all the problems she has in her life. Not everyone needs meds, not everyone should homeschool – your life won’t be miserable and your kids won’t be morons if you don’t do those things, you can be just as functional as Penelope here and your kids can grow up to be as wonderful as hers even if you don’t follow her advice. I wish Penelope would follow the advice of those readers of hers – myself included – that she should go back to career advice because that’s her forte. For someone who has been and so open about poor decisions, shortcomings, and problems in her life, it comes across awful rich from her that she be delving out life advice. Stick to the career advice, Penelope.

  5. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    This blog seems to be saying, “Hey, take adderall and get that fantastic boyfriend and be able to paint and have fun and get a great job all while feeling great!”

    But it isn’t saying– clearly saying– that you should look to pharmaceuticals only when you are diagnosed with mental illnesses or have a history of anxiety/mental problems. The blog post briefly describes that these two women were messed up before going on adderall. It could easily be misread by people who are just temporarily in a rut or have made bad dating choices or are in need of some vitamins (as other posters have shared their stories) that taking a pill will work wonders.

    Maybe your dating disasters were because of your fears or faulty beliefs and not because you need a drug to make you fantastic and irresistible to men. Maybe you need to go slower and evaluate your choices and patterns and not just jump in. Maybe you just need to work on your self esteem.

    It is true that many people are not getting proper nutrition and exposure to sunlight. Our food is becoming processed and fake. Nutrients are being taken out and all kinds of substitutes are being made which WILL mess with our systems and create all kinds of physical and mental problems. It is not easy or cheap to eat organic and get the proper amount of nutrition. We were also taught to avoid fats and drink milk– two things among other examples I could list which actually cause mental and phsycial problems for us. So a good diet and supplements can work wonders for mood and weight.

    The problem here is that adderall may be wonderful for those with mood disorders, but tragic for those without, and it should be “pushed” with caution because too many people who do not have mood disorders are getting messed up by drugs like adderall. People will go to the doctor and fake anxiety and lack of focus, and doctors will easily prescribe the drug. But I warn people to only use if they REALLY have chronic, long term, on-going disorders that were unable to be treated any other way. On an otherwise stable mind which may just be feeling a little lazy or a little shy, adderall can have addicting and devastating results.

    Adderall should not be pushed as the great remedy to your problems or the way to achieve and get great boyfriends. Your post is going to make people who are otherwise healthy feel bad about themselves because it could be so much better if they take a pill. You are possibly going to create a lot of addicts who end up with problems because they see you and your friend getting so much better and they, too, would like to lose weight with a pill and met a great guy. Please be more clear in describing that you have a history of mental problems and therapy before you took adderall.

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