Coming to University was the most exciting moment of my life. But, my actual experience was far from my hopes. Intense study, isolation and a course I didn’t like, led me to taking Modafinil to try and improve my academic performance.  Initially, I loved the feeling it gave me – but, this resulted in dependence, my grades slipping and my relationship with my girlfriend falling apart. In the end, I left Modafinil behind and found some new solutions that supported me through Uni.

Arriving, I couldn’t wait to meet new people, try new things and to throw myself into studies – after all these years of a love-hate relationship with school, I could finally study just what I wanted. But, things were harder and more stressful than I thought. I didn’t meet the people I thought I would. I tried a few societies, but never committed to anything (I still get the emails from Salsa Soc every week after signing up at the Freshers Fair). After starting proper, I decided I didn’t like my course, and the work began getting to me. I struggled to balance Uni work with part time work and socialising.

When I went home for Christmas after my first semester, I was talking to my older brother about these problems. He, along with some friends, used Modafinil when they were at Uni, and he suggested I should try it too. He gave me a couple of tablets, and told me to use them next time I am writing an essay.drug-2410469_1920I kept these tablets for ages – I was too scared to use them, and didn’t want to ‘cheat’ unfairly.  Plus, I was unsure about pharmaceuticals, since I had heard bad things. My perception started to change when chatting with a postgrad student in my building who did her undergrad at the University of Oxford.  She mentioned Modafinil, saying everybody takes it there – which normalised study drugs even more for me.

I still held off using them, until I realised that I had left my last essay of the year until too late – if I remember, it was about the Cause of Revolutions. I only had 4 days to complete 2500 words – and I hadn’t really studied Revolutions before, so I would have to do all my research from scratch. I was scared, had already gotten lower grades than expected so far, and remembered about the tablets my brother gave to me – I decided to take one.

Within an hour, I could feel my eyes open wider than they did before, I could feel the beat of my heart banging against my chest as small beads of sweat started to appear on my forehead. The little voice I usually heard in my head that says things like “You should go on Facebook” and “You’ve done enough work for the day, you deserve to rest” suddenly went quiet for the first time in years, and it was like the only things that mattered were the keyboard and open books in front of me – I got into such a state of flow, I swear that you could see smoke coming from the keyboard. That was it: From that moment on I was convinced this was a miracle drug.kalea-jerielle-1164116-unsplashA few weeks later, I got the results back – A solid score of 68%, a high 2.1. My highest grade of University so far. I was thrilled, ecstatic, and felt like I had a secret weapon against procrastination, boredom and rubbish lecturers who just read paragraphs from a slide.  The tablets I got from my brother – subsidised by extra ones that Oxford grad gave to me – gave me a supply that lasted me from that final essay, to my exams (I only had two so didn’t need that much).

When I ran out, I ordered some online from UKMeds. It was easy – I just had to lie about having narcolepsy to an “online ‘Doctor” and within 4 days I had three boxes, totalling 120 200mg tablets.  It was quite expensive though, costing around £210. I thought, “Great! I have a supply that’ll last me for ages.”

My first essay of second year went the same as my last of year one – supercharged by Modafinil. I started thinking that I had beat the University system.

This is where the dependence started.  It happened slowly, creeping up like a hungry tiger stalks its prey through tall grass. At first, I only took it for big events – such as essays and exams. However, after my first bit of initial success, I started taking them almost daily. I’d take one tablet when I woke up, and another around 3pm. At first, this had the effect of making me productive all day. However, like a power plant fueled by diamonds, this was unsustainable.

I started to feel side-effects – I had started getting distracted whilst taking them – not unfocused, but just focused on the wrong thing. I once missed a seminar because I got too focused on the walk there and ended up walking around Edinburgh for 3 hours. I also would get too focused on video games – meaning I started falling behind on my work again.  I became intensely fascinated by the life-cycle of mushrooms, and other bizarrely obscure topics.

I started to be irritable, unsociable, and have terrible stomach problems. I only noticed the latter one by myself at first, it was my friends who had to sit down with me and tell me their concerns – they noticed that I had become irritable, stopped hanging out with them, and didn’t seem my usual self. I thought they were speaking nonsense, and unfortunately didn’t listen.  If only I listened…

My grades throughout second year had started to slip. I’m sure my constant irritation and tiredness contributed to this. In my dependent state, I thought the answer was more Modafinil. I started taking 300mg doses, and the same problems persisted.  Going into exams, I had barely slept for weeks – daily use of Modafinil meant I was too wired to sleep, only getting 3-4 hours per night. The negative impact of this built up over time, and I was more irritable and anxious than ever. This led to me failing all my exams but one, that I got a very low score on.

My girlfriend had been expressing concern for months before this – but during exam period she found it too much. She told me that I was unrecognisable compared with the person she met early in first year – who was so happy, optimistic and patient. Nowadays, I was easily annoyed and would flare up if she said something I felt was “stupid”.  It seemed like my mind worked faster than hers and I would jump to conclusions and feel she couldn’t keep up. We broke up, and it broke my heart.

To make it worse, the three boys who I was supposed to be living with in third year told me that they didn’t want me to, as I was “too intense” – I would snap at them easily, and would be constantly tapping or fidgeting due to the Modafinil.anger-angry-annoyed-987585I knew I had to stop.  My essays had been terrible, I’m sure my exams had been, I had lost my girlfriend, all my friends, my flat for next year and was hanging on at Uni by a thread. I knew something must be done, and this was confirmed when we got our exam results in July.  I had failed all but one. I can still remember the guilt and the shame washing over me – I was too scared to tell my parents, but made a decision that day. That I would sort myself out once and for all.

I’ll admit, a bit of experimenting was needed to figure this out. When I went home for the summer holidays, I naturally stopped taking Modafinil. I started meditating, exercising and eating well, and I found that I became less irritable, less anxious and started to become like myself again.

However, when I got back to Uni in September I found that, whilst I felt better than the majority of my first two years, I started to procrastinate and couldn’t concentrate. I started to fall behind on my work again, stopped exercising and started eating really badly. I knew I needed something, yet didn’t want to slip back into dependence.   My mind felt wooly, foggy and slow.

I went to Google, as I often do when stuck. I found out about ‘natural nootropics’. First I tried Lucid (which arrived from Hong Kong, which surprised me as it was advertised as a US company) – however, using it made me a bit restless like I used to be on Modafinil – turns out the racetams inside the product can do that.

Then I then tried again, this time sticking with a British company. Based on Amazon recommendations, I found BrainZyme and thought it looked good – it didn’t use drugs, and yet was apparently as effective as smart drugs. Plus, it cost less than Lucid and Modafinil.  I ordered a pack of Original. Whilst it did work, I certainly felt more focused, was able to sit down and study for several hours and felt able to absorb everything better, I found Original was not strong enough in comparison to Modafinil and Lucid.  I searched their website, and found they had a policy of guaranteed returns – so I got in contact with Robert, someone who works for them. He apologised and suggested trying Professional as it was stronger – they sent me out a pack free of charge – best customer service I have received hands down.

Professional was a lot more effective – it gave a similar feeling of alertness, awakeness and feeling ‘on it’ as with Modafinil, but it didn’t make me restless, or give me stomach problems, didn’t stop me sleeping, and was overall better for my health.  According to a review I saw for it in Health and Fitness, it boosts dopamine, the same brain chemical that Modafinil works on.  No wonder it made me feel the same focus and flow. It was cheaper too (£16 for 30 capsules, rather than the £60 for 30 Modafinil tablets).

Having done worse in first two years than I wanted or expected, I had to really pull my finger out in third year in order to salvage my grades. I wasn’t tempted to go back to Modafinil as I got a constant supply of Brainzyme Pro – no more waiting for dodgy packages from overseas to arrive.  Three capsules in the morning and three capsules in the afternoon got me through my studies. And, my productivity was better: I wrote better essays, was better focused in the library, and I felt calmer yet more motivated – if that makes sense. I made up with my friends (although I still don’t live with them), and apologised to my ex girlfriend, who had got herself a new boyfriend.  Whilst we did not get back together, we are on good terms. I even convinced some of my friends who used Modafinil to make the switch to BrainZyme, helping them get off smart drugs.

And that’s where my struggles, at least with smart drugs, came to an end – thanks to BrainZyme. I learnt a lot whilst at University that I didn’t think I would: how dependence on drugs can suck you in, how to deal with heartbreak and isolation, the importance of having a group of good friends around you to advise and support you.  But, most importantly, I learnt the importance of looking after your physical, mental and spiritual self. Exercise, nourish your brain properly and look after yourself. Give your mind the building blocks it needs and it will surprise you with what it can achieve.

Have a read of more facts on drugs for more information.