Inside a Mind with ADDitude

Prescription bottles of Adderall sit beside Jessie Carroll's bed. Jessie has been taking Adderall to treat her ADHD for almost two years.

Jessie Caroll, 21, talks with her girlfriend Lindsey Davis, 19, during an ice breaker activity at the Student Advocates for Prison Reform and the Incarcerated (SAPRI) held in Anspach Hall Nov. 18, 2019. Jessie became interested in joining SAPRI through her girlfriend, who is the treasurer for the student organization. "Anything that relates to problems in society I'm generally interested in," said Jessie.

Jessie shakes one of her legs as she takes notes for an upcoming exam in her apartment Nov. 19, 2019. Compulsively shaking her legs is one of many symptoms of ADHD Jessie experiences in her everyday life.

Jessie wakes up to take her medication before getting ready for class Nov. 20, 2019. As part of her daily routine, Jessie takes 20mg of Adderall XR (extended release) in the morning and 30mg of Adderall IR (immediate release) in the afternoon.

Jessie takes notes during her lecture class at Central Michigan University. This is her first semester as a transfer student from Oakland University.

Jessie plays with her roommate's kitten, Charlie, as she waits for her food to finish cooking Nov. 22.

Jessie shares a laugh with girlfriend Lindsey and acquaintance Carley Fure, 21, during a Christmas party Dec. 7 at Lexington Ridge.

Jessie smiles with Central Michigan University President Dr. Bob Davies and girlfriend Lindsey during the men's basketball game against Trinity Christian Nov. 23 in McGuirk Arena. Jessie and Lindsey were invited to sit courtside with President Davies during the game after talking with him in the student section. "This would've never have happened at Oakland," said Jessie, "I'm glad on all levels that I transferred."

Jessie plays with girlfriend Lindsey's hair as they wind down for the night with a Netflix movie Nov. 22. Lindsey lives in Herrig Hall but often stays the night with Jessie at her apartment off-campus.

From a young age, Central Michigan University student Jessica "Jessie" Carroll grew up with a hyper-fixation with a number of interests. Jessie has generally lived a normal life enjoying hobbies such as painting and skateboarding. In comparison to her sister who attended therapy for years for her mental health, Jessie’s struggles were little to none.

One emotionally and academically challenging semester at Oakland University, however, revealed she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

ADHD is a medical condition that causes inattentiveness, restlessness, and impulsive behavior. With ADHD, many individuals may also have one or several other disorders associated with their condition. When Jessie was diagnosed with ADHD, she had also been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, and generalized anxiety. “I think I developed OCD to combat the ADHD cause with ADHD you lose and misplace stuff a lot and are very messy, so the OCD helps to not lose things cause everything is where it’s supposed to be,” said Jessie, “I definitely feel like if I didn’t have anxiety and depression ADHD might feel like a super power almost.”

When her sister left for Michigan Tech after making improvement with her mental health, Jessie decided to return to Central Michigan University to study social work. Despite making improvements in her own mental health and navigating through her new diagnoses, her conditions still raise their own set of challenges. 

Among many personal struggles for Jessie is forcing herself to finish tasks that she finds starting to be very difficult. In addition, becoming easily distracted tends to make completing these tasks even more difficult to attain. “It feels like the end of the world internally, but it’s not and I’ll feel a lot better when I’m done,” said Jessie, “I wanna get it done, it’s just such a battle for some reason.”

The root of many of these challenges in Jessie’s life lie within her inability to regulate her emotions well, a common issue for ADHD-persons nationwide. Jessie says her emotions can often feel out of control or too much to handle, especially when the emotions she feels are intense. For Jessie, these feelings often make focusing on things she does wrong easier and concentrating on tasks at-hand an obstacle. In addition, these emotions can make Jessie extremely sensitive when it comes to feeling rejected or cause her to take out her feelings on others.

In order to manage her symptoms, Jessie has been taking Adderall over the last two years to help her maintain her focus and regulate her emotions. Getting her medication, however, has also proven to be a struggle due to being a heavily-regulated drug. Sending in prescriptions too early or lack of effective communication between her doctors can cause her to be perceived as “drug-seeking”, prolong the process of obtaining her medication as a result. In addition to the medication, Jessie also utilizes drinking coffee to help her study and maintain her focus for a period of time.

Understanding the depths of her condition in its entirety has never been the easiest for Jessie, largely due to the condition presenting itself in different ways with each individual diagnosed with ADHD. “From my end, I have nothing to compare my experience to because I don’t know what’s normal or what’s not normal for ADHD and non-ADHD,” said Jessie, “It’s a bit different in everyone, so people don’t know all that ADHD is.”