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An Off-ADHD-Meds Update

Piedras de primavera, spring stones.Vicente Villamón via Compfight

I’ve been off ADHD stimulant medication since about March 17. I must have the luck ‘o the Irish because (with the notable exception of the owl incident) I think things are going pretty well.

Some of you have expressed an interest in my progress (or lack thereof) and I’ve promised updates. Here’s the latest.


I’ve noticed a few physical changes, especially  in sleep and energy levels.


I was surprised to find that within a day or two of discontinuing my medication, my sleep pattern changed for about a two-week period.

It’s common for people with ADHD to be night owls, but I’ve always been a morning person. I peak mentally around 10 a.m. After noon, it’s all downhill from there.

After discontinuing ADHD stimulant medication, at least one of my online ADHD buds noticed and remarked upon how late I was up (and how excessively chatty I was) on Facebook and other social media. This lasted about two weeks.

Feeling lethargic

I also noticed that I dragged myself through the day, only perking up around 10 p.m. Before then, I was too lethargic to work and most days couldn’t even get started. At 10 p.m., I’d work for an hour or so, then jump on social media until one or two in the morning. I was wired, not tired. Not good.

I have no idea why this happened, but I’m happy to say that my body has reverted to its more customary sleep patterns. I’m energized and able to work in the morning again and get to bed before 11 p.m.

Twitches / tics

At first, and for several weeks, I noticed a twitch in my eye. Besides being annoying, this wasn’t a big deal and has now stopped. Strangely, eight years ago when I first started the medication, the same thing had happened. Again, it resolved. Bookend tics. Weird.

Yoga, exercise, meditation

I’m doing more of all three, but it’s not as regular as I’d like.


I’m sure it’s helping that it’s spring. I’m feeling happy and optimistic. I think I’ve been a little more emotional since going off my medication, but it’s been easy to keep myself in a positive frame of mind. I’m sure the extra yoga, exercise, and meditation is helping to keep the balance (pardon the double entendre).


Friendships are on track, I’m enjoying meeting new people and socializing on and off-line. I haven’t experienced anything negative since I’ve been meds-free, and in fact successfully worked through a difficult social situation that had a very happy and satisfying ending, all while off meds. Woh.


Work has been incredibly rewarding, with more contracts and opportunities coming in. I’m not feeling overwhelmed and seem to be handling the new projects well. I recently received an unexpected and surprising compliment from a colleague:

“You’re quite good at this follow up thing, I’m repeatedly impressed.” Alina Kislenko, ADHD coach,

Thanks, Alina! Following up still feels like a challenge, but I’m better at it than I was before my diagnosis.

I’ve been relying on my kitchen timer a lot more lately too. If I’m procrastinating, or reflexively jumping into Twitter when I should be starting to write, I grab my timer and set it for an hour and promise myself I won’t check my e-mail (again), go online, or go grab some chips until the alarm goes off. That’s how I got this written! (Mmmmm… chips…)

Action plan

The areas I still want to work on are:

1 ) being more consistent in following up

2 ) resisting social media temptation

3 ) fine-tuning workflow, including prioritizing tasks and creating concrete short-term goals for various projects

4 ) being more consistent in daily meditation, yoga, and exercise

Steps taken

Soon after I went medication-free, I started working with a fellow writer as an accountability partner. That initiative worked well in the short term, but has derailed for various reasons. I still think the idea has merit. I know it works for others, but I think it depends on the individuals and their circumstances.

In lieu of having an accountability partner based on a personal relationship, I’ve decided to take a more professional approach and hire an ADHD coach. I’m thinking when I’m paying for the services of a coach, there’ll be more investment in following through on both sides.

I’m excited and trepidatious. This is my first personal experience with ADHD coaching. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So far, so good

To be honest, I’m surprised at how well I’m doing. I’m still willing to take ADHD medication again if need be, but I’m happy that what I’ve learned is keeping me on track. Life is a balancing act for all of us; I know I’ll be tweaking my ADHD management forever, but it feels a lot easier now than it was when I was first diagnosed. As it should be.


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An Off-ADHD-Meds Update

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2014). An Off-ADHD-Meds Update. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 May 2014
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