ADHD: From suicidal to orthomolucular treatment

In 2008, I was diagnosed as “an adult with ADHD.” This diagnosis turned my world upside down. On one hand, it was nice to finally have an explanation for my concentration issues, my immense impulsivity, my susceptibility to addiction, and my procrastination. On the other hand, it was a label that I was stuck with—”this man is sick”—a rather depressing thought.

How I used to live with ADHD

For years, I would come up with excuses daily to explain and justify my behavior to others. The fact that I didn’t finish my education, made expensive impulsive purchases, and regularly escaped my frustrations with alcohol and other numbing substances left me living with chronic depression.

It was especially frustrating to be someone with a good brain—something I had been told since I was young—and yet feel like nothing ever came to fruition. During that time, I did simple work, where I could mainly work hard and expend my boundless energy. Besides my work, I was at the gym daily, intensely exercising for an hour and a half to two hours per day. I was completely addicted to endorphins, but more on that later.

As someone with ADHD, there was always action in my life. I had many friends, we drank until the sun came up, and I can’t recall a moment when I needed peace and me-time. I was consistently in overdrive, unconsciously pushing myself toward a burnout, but thankfully, it never came to that.

When I started using Ritalin

It was in the winter of 2008 when I read an article about ADHD and all ten symptoms applied to me. Through my general practitioner, I was referred to a psychiatrist to determine if I had ADD or ADHD. The diagnosis was quickly made, and I was prescribed Ritalin. The initial dosage had to be built up to 100 milligrams per day, considering my body weight was around 100 kilograms.

During the dosage buildup, I could concentrate much better, complete entire task lists effortlessly, and work with clenched jaws for 10-12 hours a day. However, I experienced severe side effects: mood swings and panic attacks. When someone looked into my eyes, it felt like they were looking right through me.

My concentration was so strong that my attention turned inward, leading to auditory hallucinations. I heard the sound of sirens 24 hours a day until I became so accustomed to them that I no longer heard them. Or did I?

Suicide?

There were days when I lay on my bed for hours with dilated pupils, staring at the ceiling. I was scared, depressed, suicidal, saw no way out of my situation. One afternoon, I lay on my bed with kitchen scissors in my hand. I cried dry tears because I had no tears left. I just didn’t know anymore. It was at that moment that I heard the voice of my deceased grandmother asking me the rhetorical question, “Jasper, aren’t there better solutions?”

Turning point in treatment

The psychiatrist explained that the side effects could easily be suppressed with an antidepressant, which had to be built up over 6 weeks. Until then, I could still – to a lesser extent – experience the side effects. After following the antidepressant buildup schedule, the mood swings indeed disappeared. However, I still had the panic attacks. Fortunately, the psychiatrist was there to prescribe me an antipsychotic.

That moment was also the turning point in my treatment for adult ADHD. I accepted the prescription but never used it. For me, the benefits of using Ritalin did not outweigh the drawbacks (side effects).

I decided to taper off the medication – both the Ritalin and the antidepressant – on my own and just live my life as someone with ADHD. I intended to turn my strengths – work ethic, strong intuition, ability to make connections, and creativity – into my assets and manage my behavior through cognitive behavioral therapy.

When I drastically reduced the dosage within a few days, I had a breakdown. My emotions returned, and I cried for hours, even half-days, but I felt like I was regaining control of myself.

After completely tapering off my medication, I was back to my old self.

Orthomolecular treatment for ADHD

Months later, when I spoke to an orthomolecular doctor, he made me aware of the fact that there are very good treatment methods for ADHD. He claimed that he could control my symptoms very well with a discontinued, low-dose medication and a supplement containing a specific enzyme. ADHD is a brain pathology and you have it for life, but the symptoms can be well managed.

The approach was as follows:

  • A complete elimination diet without cow milk (products), gluten, soy, spinach, and eggs. These products contain so-called exorphins, exogenous endorphins.
  • A daily dose of LDN (Low-dose naltrexone)
  • A daily dose of DPP-IV supplement

I followed the mentioned protocol for 4 months, and slowly I began to feel like a different person. I could work continuously for hours, had peace in my body and mind, and was much more pleasant to be around for other people. Previously, I was ‘freely present’ and talked non-stop.

The change that proceeded smoothly led me into an identity crisis. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I had become a boring guy. Previously, I was always the one to take the lead in taking action and initiating fun, especially impulsive actions.

All of that was gone now, and I didn’t even feel like it anymore. I wanted peace, and my susceptibility to addiction to alcohol, adrenaline, and endorphins had disappeared. Therefore, I no longer felt like sweating in the gym for hours every day to get my endorphin fix.

Over the years, my ‘personality’ has changed from someone who talked to someone who listens. From someone who made stupid impulsive choices to someone who can make deliberate choices from a place of calm. From someone who shines in a relationship to someone who let’s their partner or friends shine.

How I live with ADHD now

Over the years, my “personality” has shifted from someone who talked to someone who listens. From making impulsive choices to making thoughtful decisions from a place of calm.

My lifestyle choices directly impact my ADHD symptoms, which is why I am very precise in my food choices. I still eat gluten-free, but occasionally I indulge in a delicious sandwich, dairy-free, and try to avoid sugar as much as possible. Quitting sugar was a challenge, especially when you realize it’s as addictive as cocaine.

Some people wonder what I eat if I’m gluten-free and dairy-free. There are still so many alternatives. It’s just a matter of thinking in terms of possibilities rather than limitations.

Due to my experiences with the psychiatrist who kept pushing higher doses on me back then, I’ve developed an aversion to medications. Since then, I haven’t used any other medication except sporadic painkillers when I have tension headaches. This aversion partly led me not to get vaccinated during the pandemic.

All in all, my experience with ADHD has positively changed my life. As always, life is about having ups and downs. I consider myself a happy person nowadays.

I hope that my experience helps other people make healthy choices. I have a strong opinion about the pharmaceutical industry and the “treatment” of diseases myself. A complementary doctor once told me: “It’s good that we have medication for acute accidents, but for the rest, we can solve 95% with natural remedies.”

Best, Jasper

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