Citation: PoppyShef. "Chasing Mental Clarity: An Experience with Modafinil & Various (exp69752)". Erowid.org. Jun 21, 2008. erowid.org/exp/69752
I'm 22 years old, a Masters student at University in Sheffield, England. I will try to keep biographical information to a minimum, since I realise it is not of primary concern here. I will, however, include some contextual information where I feel it is absolutely necessary in describing my experiences with psychoactives. I will also try to avoid confusion regarding my choice of terminology, since my own UK lingo may be quite different from the equivalent vocabulary in the US.
I consider my own experiences to be significant in that I have been on the SSRI cipralex (celexa, escitalopram) since age 19, having experienced bouts of diagnosed major depression in my late teens. I often find my experiences with psychoactives markedly different from my friends' descriptions of theirs. I did not do drugs besides a fairly normal amount of late teen party drinking and a bit of weed, which I've never really liked. When I began to experience these sustained bouts of depression, I was constantly worried about my studies. I had been a straight A student all my life, and suddenly I could barely pick up a book, and reading it was out of the question. My concentration and motivation were utterly absent and I felt my degree slipping through my fingers.
At some point I convinced myself that the answer was drugs. I felt there must be something out there that I could take to remove this mental fog. The SSRIs helped with my mood, but the intolerable lethargy remained, so I began searching for something to let me get back to work, rather than asking my doctor for advice, which is what I should have done. At 20 I began taking Ritalin (unprescribed), which I obtained from a friend of a friend. I chose not to ask where he got it (it's relatively unknown in the UK, and was even less so even a few years ago.) My administrative route of choice was insufflation. I first tried it orally and found it helped my concentration significantly.
I remember the first time I crushed and snorted it, in my bedroom with the door locked. I was genuinely very scared, but my curiosity outweighed this. I was always scared when I took a new drug then, which is, I think, an appropriate feeling. I was soon at the point where I saw health warnings about psychoactives as propaganda, and laughed them off. When risking my life and health became funny to me, I really should have realised that something had gone very wrong.
I cannot go into detail about my Ritalin use as it was relatively short-lived, since I stopped being able to obtain it and the come-downs were getting more and more frightening. I also have no documentation of it, so could not provide precise detail based on my somewhat fuzzy memories alone. I will mention, though, that I discovered diazepam when I was using it. I had been given it after an operation a few years previously and remembered the calm, peaceful relaxation it had produced. I researched the drug online and, disregarding all negative information as fabrication, began to ask around to see if I could get hold of some. A dealer 2 years my senior said he had a mate with 'a suitcase full', having been abroad to stock up. He told me he used it on comedowns from cocaine and I began using it to bring me down after 2 day long Ritalin binges, which left me in a jittery mess.
I was, by now, utterly obsessed with drugs. I use this term very generally to refer to psychoactive substances in general, coffee and alcohol included. I began searching again for my drug of choice, and felt certain it would be speed. I had tried cocaine whilst on SSRIs and I passed out almost immediately, I've no idea for how long. I knew speed was dramatically different from cocaine in terms of chemical structure, even if it, too, went under the umbrella term of 'upper.' I was still convinced it would be my drug and I was obsessed with it, willing to fall in love with it although I'd never taken it in my life.
However, speed is difficult to come by - where I live the most popular drugs are weed, pills (ecstasy) and cocaine. However much I asked around, I always got the same response - 'Why would you want speed? It's just shit poor-man's coke.' However, I still craved that high, that rush of ideas and the endless concentration I had felt on Ritalin and, back in my last year of high school, ephedrine.
After much research I felt I'd found the answer. A little documented drug, Modafinil, became of interest to me. As far as I know it is a scheduled substance in the US (do correct me if I'm wrong) but in the UK it is so unheard of that it is yet to be legally classified. I found a site online on which it was discussed, which included a link to a UK pharmacy that would import and sell it to you. This seemed impossible, but I looked it up, and Modafinil's importation laws were conspicuously non-existant. I ordered a small number, as I didn't really think they'd just post them to me, but five days later, the day before an essay deadline, there they were.
I had been procrastinating with this essay for weeks, trying to concentrate or summon up some interest. The tablets were 200mg Modafinil and I took one and, as recommended, did not consider redosing when I felt nothing 30 minutes later. I knew the general time until onset was generally around an hour. I just leafed through my text books apathetically, trying not to look too often at the clock. Although I knew it was a bad idea to take another after an hour, and I wasn't to expect any massive rush or high, the second it was up I took another 200mg tablet thinking, sod it, everywhere says it's safe, non-addictive and side effect free. At worst that was just a waste of a tablet.
15 minutes after I took this second pill, I realised I had acted prematurely, but certainly did not regret doing so. I got the exact feeling I was constantly chasing after, a quickness of action and thought that felt utterly, precisely logical. It was as though a cognitive short circuit had been removed and my mind was free to function again. It was, by now, around 11am and for the next 8 hours I was fixated on my work. I regularly had to get up to fetch water or go to the toilet as I was constantly thirsty and my mouth was dry. My jaw muscles were tensed, but there was no grinding or chewing like on E. I realised I felt tense all over, my muscles in knots, but I didn't care. I even liked it in a strange way as it assured me I was on a 'proper' drug, which I had not expected from the articles I had read.
I was also surprised to notice how fast my heart was beating - 90bpm at 1pm and 112bpm at 7pm. Everything I had read about it raved about the precision of its action, how it wasn't a general amphetamine-like CNS stimulant and affected neither heart rate nor blood pressure nor temperature. With me these all increased. Again, this was fine by me, as was everything else. I felt utterly engaged with my work, was not constantly distracted by niggling anxieties as was normally the case at this time, and knew what I was writing was logical and articulate. I was extremely focused and could not stand to stop for a break. I chain smoked as I typed, craving another cigarette the second I stubbed one out.
A called a friend from my course, who I was also sleeping with at the time. I took another 200mg then, a little after 7pm, as I felt the drug's effects lessening. It didn't feel like a comedown as such, I was just a little bit tired and didn't want the feeling to wear off yet. We read one another's essays, as was our tradition, making minor suggestions here and there for improvements. I was captivated by his work, which really was excellent (we both received 1sts for our efforts), but for the first time that day I was ever so slightly distracted while I was reading.
Generally when I want to have sex with someone it's triggered in quite a psychological manner. In this case I wasn't even looking up at him, and I kept having to push the urge to the back of my mind to just tear his clothes off. It was a very physical, instinctive desire rather than one fundamentally fueled by emotion. Since I was, by now, quite analytical of my own experiences on drugs, I had not only made note of significant times, effects, doses etc. I had also told him about my day on this 'fantastic' drug and how it had made me feel. He is similarly intrigued by psychoactives and took a similar approach, so he was interested and asked me plenty of questions. Instead of doing perhaps the natural thing, once I'd hastily got academic talk out of the way, since my attention was now elsewhere, I told him about the sensation, in a similar way to the way I have described it here, as if analysing another person. He asked if it felt good or bad, and I replied that I felt like I might lose control at any second, but found the sense of anticipation quite enjoyable. He told me that was what it was like being a guy.
After absolutely amazing sex (not to be crude, merely accurate) and a bit more chat, he left and I got everything ready for the following morning, with attention to detail I hadn't displayed in a long time. I realised I'd eaten nothing since breakfast, so made myself a bit of dinner which, although I wasn't especially hungry, I managed to eat relatively easily. I slept lightly that night, waking often and desperate for morning to come so I could get up and hand in my work.
I got up, wildly excited and full of energy, and went to hand my work in. I had University all day so brought the blister packet of Modafinil with me in case I began to crash. At the first sign of drowsiness, real or imagined, I saw a chance to take another, and took it very openly in front of my fellow students and Professor mid-seminar. I have found that my own lack of worry or guilt in situations like these prevents people from becoming suspicious - nobody batted an eyelid.
I have used Modafinil most days since then, so almost 2 years now, with the exception of a few weeks off here and there, when I decide not to order any more in order to rebuild my tolerance. After a few weeks I started to get a definite come-down feeling when the drug was wearing off. Symptoms included anxiety, a massive need to be alone, jumpiness at the slightest sound and very rapid heart rate, 124bpm is the highest I've measured, but I can't be sure it hasn't been higher. When this began to happen I just thought, no problem, a dose of diazepam will sort this out. So I have been in the notorious up-down routine for a long while. I don't always use diazepam and my dose of Modafinil varies dependant on my days. Sometimes I take 1 200mg tablet, sometimes five. I find that re-dosing does not make me any more high, it just makes me stay awake longer.
I have used speed, my wish fulfilled, several times in the last year, and really did find it pleasurable. However, I did not find it to be worth the comedown and I felt less in control of myself on street speed than on Modafinil, my work on it was very over the top and, to me at least, clearly written on uppers.
In retrospect it is hard to make an evaluation of a drug that I have used for so long and still use. I would say I probably am addicted, but not in the feverish and desperate way I felt during my spells of Ritalin and street speed use. If I realise I've run out I'm a bit disappointed, but I don't go mad, turning my room upside down in a futile attempt to find more. When I'm not on them for a while I am pretty low in energy and far less productive, but I get no physical withdrawal symptoms besides oversleeping a little, around 10 hours a night it general. I have also lost quite a lot of weight. My exact weight is an estimate as I have not weighed myself for a long time, but I am a US size 0 at 5'10' which is, in terms of health if not fashion, too thin, and 2 sizes smaller than 2 years ago.
My reasons for drug use are, and have always been, related to productivity and energy. I don't do drugs at parties, but before I set off to the library. I am not recommending this drug or the use of benzodiazepines without prescription - I know that I am doing this at my own risk. I would say that in my case, Modafinil does have addictive qualities and side effects, but this may be due to my simultaneous use of prescribed SSRIs. I can't predict how long I will continue to take it for or whether or not there is a disaster awaiting me just around the corner. At this stage I will admit that I do not regret using this drug, but that in the future my feelings regarding it may turn out to be very different indeed.
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