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I use it for enhanced productivity, simply due to being awake for a normal amount of time. Without Modafinil I would wake up after 12-16+ hours of sleep and make it no longer than 8 hours before sleeping again. If I actually did something during that time such as wash clothes, I could barely get everything into the washer without needing to lie down. A great inconvenience for sure, but not the source of my misery. Every time I did lie down, I would fall asleep for hours. After every shower I would sleep on the bathroom floor for about 2 hours. When cleaning a room the priority would always be something I could lie down on, because I would be there in about 10 minutes, and fast asleep. This shortens each day considerably. Even in the best case scenario of having no “chores” to do, a shower and dinner cuts off another 4 hours, leaving me with just 4 hours before I had to sleep again.
Try to imagine being awake for only 4 hours every day. What could you do in that time? If something involves standing for more than 10 minutes, subtract 2 hours. If it involves moderate exercise, that’s all you’re doing today.
I could function like that on a basic level. I tried to limit myself to one room to reduce cleaning needs. With careful planning I spaced out my use of cookware and dishes to reduce the time lost. The rest of the time was spent getting groceries and then recovering from that. But life is never that simple.
People expect you to be as you appear. Normal. Someone in his early twenties is supposed to go out and party all the time, spend time with friends and family, and still be ready to do something at a moment’s notice. All while working full-time or going to school. They look at you and see that you don’t look sick. Maybe a little tired, but not sick. Your family mistakes your exhaustion for boredom, happily suggesting to do something exciting and then feeling distanced and unloved when you turn them down. Your friends think at best you’re boring, at worst you think you’re better than them. So it comes to a simple decision. One that can result in significant regret, hardship and stress. Do you push everyone around you away so that you can keep functioning the way you have been, or do you try to hold those relationships together at your own expense? I chose the latter. I did just enough to keep contact. I went to special events and celebrated birthdays, had weekly lunch with my grandparents, left the instant messenger on all day and kept the phone next to me to stay in contact with everyone else. And every time I did something, it set me back. Everything in my life suffered to keep these relationships afloat. I couldn’t think clearly enough to remember what I did 5 minutes prior. Priorities shifted considerably and I only did what I deemed to be absolutely necessary. I didn’t clean for months at a time, and I didn’t shower or change clothes unless I had to go out. Often I wouldn’t eat because I didn’t have time nor energy to make anything, and when I did, the dishes were never clean. Sanitation held a lower priority than sustenance. I was exhausted nearly every waking moment of my life. But I looked fine.
It was obvious this was a problem to me. So what did the many doctors have to say? Lead a less stressful life. Eat Better. Nothing’s wrong. You have an anxiety disorder. Take a B-Complex. You’re already taking a B-Complex? Take it for another month. You’re depressed. And finally, perhaps ironically the most helpful answer of all, “I don’t know.”
At the next doctor, I convinced him to give me a 2-week supply of Modafinil. They allowed to me function, but that wasn’t long enough to get a true feel for the drug. He refused providing any more after that, telling me I’m depressed and I just need to accept it. Those words were nothing new by this point.
After a few months and hundreds of dollars in shipments lost to customs, I finally amassed enough to take the drug regularly. So what did it do? Without mincing words, it saved my life. It kept me awake. I was still completely exhausted all the time. I still had to lie down after doing anything. But instead of immediately falling asleep, I stayed awake. Within 10 minutes I could get up again and carry on. I could decide my next task while lying down, and then do it. I still remember the first day I was able to do 2 loads of laundry on the same day. That may seem like nothing, but it meant the difference between eating and not eating the next day. I had about 8 hours each day, but that no longer meant 4 tasks. I could have a shower, lay down for 10 minutes, and then carry on. 20 minutes, instead of 2 hours. I didn’t let that time go to waste, and immediately started improving my situation. It felt like it took a month to finish cleaning, but it was actually a week. Within about 2 weeks from starting the drug, my main block of sleep slowly began to decrease from ~14 hours. I regularly checked the date on my computer, often shocked that it was still the same day and yet I had completed a week’s worth of housework. Every time, it was a great boost to my willpower. I felt incredible. Every day I was catching up. Every day I had less stress.
Eventually, not only had I caught up, I actually had free time. I began to improve my life. I started exercising, and even took up Yoga for something different; something I once thought I would never have time to do. When I had to lay down, I used the time to research as much as I could about sleep. For so long my doctors focused on the sleep component of my situation, and then so did I. The efficacy of these pills seemed to confirm a sleep disorder. It took quite some time for me to finally step back, look at my life, and once again see fatigue as the cause of the sleep. On to studying fatigue-related illnesses.
Modafinil is not a miracle drug. All it does is provide you with more time in a day. The miracle is in what you choose to do with that time.