Citation: Holden Hahn. "Just Say NoVigil: An Experience with Armodafinil (Nuvigil) (exp84030)". Erowid.org. May 5, 2010. erowid.org/exp/84030
A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy. I must note that I was diagnosed with narcolepsy but do not actually have narcolepsy. The condition is pretty easy to fake, and the results of the sleep analysis are pretty easy to manipulate even with the most basic understanding of circadian rhythms.
I picked modafinil, not unlike someone who goes to a store and picks out a pint of ice cream. I knew what what medication I wanted, I did the necessary research, I went through qualifying trials, and was handed a prescription. Within 24 hours, my health insurance provider contact me with an offer:
Originally I would have to pay $35 copay, and my insurance would have to pay an alarming price for the drug (hundreds of dollars a month). But, the pharmaceutical company had worked out deal with my provider. We'd get one year of their new product, armodafanil (Nuvigil®), at no cost if I sent them a weekly report and completed questionnaire.
This is an overview of my long term (388 days) experience with armodafanil:
I am a male, 185cm tall, about 168 pounds. I am a non-smoker, non-drinker, and I have very little experience with psychoactives aside from caffeine and 2 month prescription of hydrocodone a couple years back. I have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. I'm in decent shape, though I rarely exercise. Blood pressure 132/76, heart rate 64 bpm at my last check up. I was prescribed 150 mg of armodafinil to be taken daily, and told to take a second dose of 150mg no later than 1:00p only when necessary.
The first 2 days I took it, I did not notice a great deal of difference in concentration or energy. I was able to fall asleep at my usual hour, and I noticed no variation in sleep patterns. On day 3 the first noticeable effects manifested. There was an improvement in my work output, however, I did begin to notice a decrease in patience. I've heard people refer to it as “caffeine without the nervousness”, which I feel is categorically poor characterization. Caffeine has a definite kinetic effect, whereas armodafinil shifted my mental state only. I didn't have more energy, I just had more drive... as far as my work was concerned.
Over the next 45-60 days many things, including my sexual drive, changed; most of which were not temporary. Overall perception was simplified, in a way, but that created bigger problems. For example, my libido became an obligation and a distraction and I also felt as if it the resulting process somehow had gotten reversed. Prior to being on the medication I would see an object of desire and become aroused. Now, on the rare occasion I feel any sort of urge, I may then see something that piques my interest, but ultimately, I am satisfied going somewhere private to unload the offending seed. In short, I have less a sexual drive and more a testicular responsibility. This does not go over well with the wife.
This wasn't the only thing that changed in the long term. My thinking became far more structured. My desk was organized, my kitchen was neat, and e-mails were scoured for grammatical inconsistencies before being sent. One would think this would have helped me get my life in order, but it seems I gained little ground. The reason for that is simple, my attention to detail was turned up, and nothing I did could turn it down. If I was sending a correspondence, I ensured I had provided as much information as would hypothetically be needed; though, in most circumstances, very little of it actually was. I was commissioned to work on a website, and the process took far longer than it should have. Before, the delay would have been caused by procrastination. Now, it was because I was checking every bit of syntax for any ambiguities, rather than just performing black box and fixing issues as they arose.
My creative writing output improved in quantity, but exponentially decreased in quality. Everything had to have an order and everything had to fit nicely into the work. I would write a dozen pages in an evening, none of which was remotely entertaining to read. Once, I tried to intentionally put a non sequitur in a piece as a challenge to myself. Didn't work out so well.
On the other hand, my reading comprehension felt as if it had been enhanced. Gilles Deleuze is not nearly as opaque as I remember, and I was able to understand most of “Difference and Repetition” (as far as I know).
One particular effect I would like to know more about is the spontaneous “lost memory” recall I began experiencing on or immediately after day 94. I would be working on an unrelated task when I would suddenly have a vivid recollection of an event that happened in the past (sometimes distant, sometimes recent). Some of these memories can be verified, but some I worry may just be vivid reconstructions or combinations of tangential memories. This experience, particularly, has been difficult to endure. Though some of the “memories” seem innocuous enough, it is the secondary effect the analysis thereof that has been the most damaging. It is one thing to consider one's memories may be mere fabrication and approximation, but when you have the acute attention necessary to fully comprehend the implications of such a proposition, a “long drive in the garage” doesn't seem out of the question.
Yes, paranoia and suicidal thoughts do swim in and out from time to time. No more so than they did before taking armodafinil, but now they are a bit more arbitrary. A bad day, an argument, or an impending disaster don't necessarily cause me to have these thoughts; they sometimes just happen without any apparent cause. I'm brewing a cup of coffee, bagel pops out of the toaster, I look for a knife, glance at a really sharp one and the thought catches e for a moment... And, as quickly as it comes, its gone.
Overall, armodafinil is not nearly as beneficial as I would have hoped. It does improve some of my cognitive functioning, and it weakens the rest. My golf game has improved, my professional work is more consistent, and I've been less prone to social gaffes. At the same time, my wife thinks I'm distant, I've lost interest in cooking, and I find myself acting out of habituation rather than conscious thought. The other thing I cannot stress enough is the mental shift that convinces me I'm at “baseline”. Taking the pill each morning alongside my vitamins and fish-oil supplement causes me to forget that I am under the influence of drugs. If not for my weekly reports and thorough documentation, I would probably be under the destructive impression all is as it ever was.
As far as its classification as a “smart drug”, I offer the following analogy: A car dealership that only offers fast, high performance vehicles. That's Nuvigil. My brain is always operating at a faster speed and this is not good thing. Life is full of many different circumstances that require one to adjust their given mindset. On armodafinil I cannot do this, because I'm always going faster. High performance vehicles don't get very good gas mileage.
Which brings me to the last thing I'm going to mention about the experience. Every few weeks, I have a “crash” day. My brain's severely discombobulated, I can't concentrate, and sometimes I start talking to myself. I found all I can do on these days is stay home and sleep. Sometimes I sleep for an entire day. It's almost as if I was using some sort of energy or mental clarity reserve that would leak gradually until I take a day to replenish it. Sometimes, I'll quit for a few days. I haven't noticed any withdrawal, but I have noticed on days I don't take it, I have a wicked sweet tooth. Once, I ate a bunch of hot cocoa mix packets because it was all I could find in the house and, apparently, I couldn't wait for the water to boil.
I'm going to stop taking it (the armodafinil). I may do it gradually, and I may do it cold turkey, I haven't decided yet. The biggest reason I want to stop is best exemplified by the situation I find myself in right now, as I write this portion of the report. I really can't stop writing it, and I don't know how to close. There's always something more to write, something else to add, something that needs to be edited further. Its a Ferris Wheel without a brake: either wait until it runs out of gas, or jump off where it'll hurt the least. Here goes...
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