I did something I swore since the day I was diagnosed with Bipolar that I would never do…

I started taking Lithium.

It has been over four years now since I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar.  I have tried so many different meds in hopes of get this thing under control. I couldn’t name them all. (well I probably could, but I won’t bore you)… When I was diagnosed with Bipolar, my eating disorder was at its worst.  Scary bad. So the pdoc that I worked with was very sensitive to the whole weight gaining issue.  So we worked with a lot of different meds, at a lot of different doses.. avoiding some of the most notorious meds for weight gain. Through the years some have failed miserably, some have actually help. But after a time, these seemed to burn out and stop working sending me manic, or depressed… Then we would start all over again.

So why the dislike of Lithium?  I know that it is one of the best drugs in studies for long term stability… I know it got a bad rap for making people zombies, but that was decades ago when people were given higher doses.

I don’t know what it is about Lithium that makes me cringe.  Maybe it has to do with the whole Bipolar stigma, that really up until the last little while was hard for me. I still did not fully accept the limitations that I have because of it. And to be honest, I would go off my meds sometimes, just to see if I really had it… Thinking, or hoping, that this was all a big mistake. But it always came back into my life, usually with a big bang.

one-flewLithium to me has been the “crazy” drug.. When you tell someone you take Lithium, they give you this look, like they want to back away from you but can’t without offending you… It has been portray in a ton of movies as the drug of choice for when they need something for mentally insane patients…

Maybe it’s just me… it probably is…

Lithium is also is a high maintenance drug.  No other drug do you have to get your blood levels checked every three months. And the long term side-effects scare me.. they can be: kidney failure, hypothyroidism..irregular heart rhythms, lithium toxicity… Then the short term side-effects that may never go away.. the constant thirst, and therefore frequent bathroom visits..lol.. the tremors that I get once in a while because I haven’t drank enough water, the sensitivity to dehydration… not to mention the risk weight gain- although I have been promised this drug is not like Zyprexa, you can actually control it with diet and exercise. (so far so good 🙂

ok. I’ll stop.

So why did I decide now to try it? I like the odds. There is a good chance with it and my mood stabilizer, that this could actually work. And I am so ready for something to work.  I cycle pretty frequently, and I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be stable for more than a month. I am ready.. oh so very ready, to be manic/depression free for a little while, or for a long while!

I find myself “people watching” a lot lately. And I start thinking, all these people without Bipolar take for granted the stability of there emotions and their mind. They have no idea how much I envy them sometimes. Something that they probably never think about, but something I would give just about anything for…

Hence I started Lithium.

one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest-jack-nicholson-quote

(p.s. if you have never seen this movie.. it’s a classic. go watch it :))

 

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13 thoughts on “oh lithium…

  1. First of all, I don’t think it is just you… I’ sure people react with a pre-disposed stigma. I think it’s normal, people are naturally cautious of what they don’t understand. And, you indicated you have that stigma too – because you swore you’d never take it. I’m the same way, I have this apprehension about taking pills…like it somehow means I’m less than, that somehow I have been defeated, weak, or have lost the battle. It’s a tough step to take, for sure. But this goes back to the idea, that if you swapped the words “mental illness” or “bipolar” or “depression” for something like “cancer” or “diabetes”, there would be no concern about the medication, right? We would take it, right?
    …but that’s the easy answer, and easy answers are not our first choice, typically.

    1. yes, very good points. i was guilty of fearing bipolar as much any other. it took me awhile before i really came to accept it. and you are completely right about the meds. if it was anything else, i wouldn’t think twice. thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  2. Lizzy,

    I too said that I would never take Lithium. However….3 weeks ago, I ate those words along with swallowing my first Lithium. Just letting you know that you were not alone in your apprehension regarding the drug.

    1. Did you really?! Glad to know I am in good company, lol! I am on my second week of it. How is it going for you, can you tell anything yet?

      1. Yes I can, I have been able to travel. I’m in Atlanta visiting my sister right now. I also have been able to go into public places for the past few days. I had a lot of faith in Latuda because it had helped me so much in the beginning but I just metabolize it too fast per the lab work and my doc and I just didn’t want me on a huge dose so we decided to give this a shot.

  3. Ain’t no shame baby. Lithium is a trace mineral and many people suffer from deficiencies in it. I am taking a super low dose because I tested to have zero in my system and it’s related to methylation issues I have. Lithium is interesting because your nervous system needs proper amount to function. When mine was zero my GI motility just stopped. Gross and interesting it seems to be working better now with a very low dose of lithium.

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