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Bipolar Disorder And My Experience With The Mood Stabilizer Lithium

Updated on January 11, 2017
Who Am I?
Who Am I?

Lithium, Bipolar, And A Whole Lot Of Madness

I wrote this little narrative sometime back when I was giving the wonderful mood stabilizer Lithium a second try. I wanted it to work so desperately this time. Lithium is the drug of all drugs for manic depression, what they so aptly now call bipolar disorder.

Why mess with perfection? Manic depression, the name alone says it all. Bipolar is so mediocre, a little more bewildering. There have been many people who have asked me what bipolar is. Like is it a vegetable or the name of a new candy bar or a new TV show? Try explaining it. " No it is a brain disease, a chemical in the brain that went horribly haywire, so I have these little mood episodes that go from one pole to the next, hence the bipolar."

Really not a bright idea if you ask me. But then they didn't ask me, so shut my mouth. Bipolar just sounds so scientific. "Oh what a neat analytical label." At least manic depression was more like a state of being instead of a bumper sticker. All of that is beside the point.

Lithium continues to be the most popular choice for treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It has the potentiality to work as a mood stabilizer, lithium is more effective in preventing mania than depression, and may reduce the risk of suicide. The only thing is the side affects can be less than serene. And wreck much havoc on your body. My body anyway. I only can speak for myself.

Than there is the less then pleasurable blood work every week, month or whenever your psychiatrist decides he/she needs to test your lithium levels. You have to make sure you have enough lithium in your body. And you do not want too much or you may have a toxic reaction, and that my friend blows the big one. It feels like you're being poisoned inside out, your whole body erupts into weakness, you become so sick, you wish you were dead. Seriously it is not a something I want to repeat.

Signs of lithium toxicity are:

Diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, muscular weakness, sweating,tremors,and a complete lack of coordination are the main symptoms of lithium toxicity. This of course is a very serious condition because I had too much lithium in my system. You can recover from lithium toxicity without any problems. Those that have had severe poisoning may have long-term problems, which are most likely in cases of acute on chronic lithium intoxication. I was hospitalized, given fluids, medication for nausea, and monitored. I presently have no long term complications.

Moods Changed So Often

Periods of darkness overwhelmed me
Periods of darkness overwhelmed me | Source
I always felt exhausted, dragging myself out of bed, just to get back in
I always felt exhausted, dragging myself out of bed, just to get back in | Source
This is what I want to feel like, but never actually got there
This is what I want to feel like, but never actually got there | Source

Eighteen Days On Lithium was Not Working

Okay I was 18 days in with the mood stabilizer lithium. I was not thrilled with the affect it was having on me. I had to go off Geodon because it made me so manic my thinking was "I think I shall panhandle so I can get enough money to go to Spain". Yes I really said that out loud! It would have been okay but my merriness was very troublesome to rebuff. It was to the point I thought I could ride my bicycle to Spain. Uh-huh! I am not kidding. So instead of adding Lithium to the Geodon my psychiatrist Miss Get Wellington advised just the lithium along with my Seroquel and Ativan. Dazzling combination !

So now my beloved mania had been purged away, and was left trying to conclude where the hell my personality went. I was lacking any kind of enthusiasm for all things. I had a casual lack of emotion, a distant attachment from everything around and about me. Imagine that, a crazy little zombie trying to pretend underneath the apathy there might be a passionate, vibrant, creative, absolutely sane human being.

I had to force myself to the computer, the words not pouring forth, I had not taken a picture in weeks, the camera stares at me, nor had drawing ideas confronted my limp wasted mind. Was I a vegetable or just a shell? A lithium zombie waiting for a...a...I don't know. I was just waiting. In a trance, hoping that was not my life.

Since there was no manic madness or insanity, and there was no bleak depression, they evidently call that maintaining. Hip-hip hurrah, munching on cow patties sounds delightful too. The equilibrating idea just was not sitting well with me. I was afraid I had to acknowledge that indifferent personality if I was to stay clear of the vicious mood cycles I had been having. How does a person live like that? I questioned who I was without the craziness of mood swings. I would rather have a crumb of a personality than that passive sludge I felt like.

Why are the trade-offs so screamingly displeasing? The big question that matters most is how am I going to live with this? The goal being ABLE to manage the side affects, structure out a half-way decent routine so the crazy train doesn't derail. So that is what I am doing, discovering a way to live with this so called vegetable state called stability.

Because the alternative just was not working. Miss Get Wellington psychiatrist and I were at our wit's end as what was going to happen next. "Well this is it, neither manic, nor depressed, no mixed episodes, no rapid cycling, but simply an indifferent uncaring go ahead and make my day slap me if you want nicely medicated compliant living a normal productive lifestyle ward of my own being." Simply happy, joyous, and energetic would have been just as peachy.

So lithium gets into your blood stream and renders you a witless oaf without a clue. Yes I can. I can live, but can I live like that? Is that what they call normal? Well lucky you, you are normal and I am as normal as it's going to get. Is that the productive lifestyle they were talking about when they said "you" can lead a normal productive lifestyle.

Well excuse me if I don't think my normal productive lifestyle matches someone who doesn't have that pesty little thing called bipolar, or manic depression or whatever name they are calling it these days.

Lithium the wonderful mood stabilizer can be a life saver, I will admit. But it also can take away any resemblance of a personality you might have had before you started taking it. There is no such thing as happy or sad on the wonder drug. You are in the kingdom of indifference. If you can tolerate the side affects your batting average is better than mine.

The dry mouth, hand tremors, diarrhea, and severe cramps, and believe it or not your friendly supportive medical staff will EXPECT you to get used to these nagging side affects. As if it is supposed to be a normal part of your productive lifestyle. I was scared and remember I was only 18 days in. When does the productive part start? Because I really want to know.It never showed up.

I eat right, I exercise, I don't drink. I take my medications as directed, and I still feel like eating cow patties might be a better trade off. Seriously. I put these psychotropic medications into my body not knowing what they do to my organs, now a cow patty is just gonna taste like, well you know crap. And come out the other end.

Can't say that for lithium now can I? Don't know. Either way I won't be chomping on cow patties anytime soon, and I have decided on discontinuing lithium for now. Perhaps I will find myself somewhere between the damn cow patty, the lithium, or safely hidden behind that chemical imbalance.


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