So I guess it is time for an update on my progress since starting a new medication.
Some information to help with understanding my new medication:
Treating certain types of seizures. It may be used alone or with other medicines. It may also be used to delay the occurrence of mood problems in certain patients with bipolar disorder. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor. Lamotrigine is an anticonvulsant. Exactly how it works is not known.1
Lamotrigine is used alone or with other medications to prevent and control seizures. It may also be used to help prevent the extreme mood swings of bipolar disorder in adults.
Lamotrigine is known as an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug. It is thought to work by restoring the balance of certain natural substances in the brain.2
We’ll just go into a little bit of detail about some of the specific choices that we have. So let’s look at the mood stabilisers that are effective in the acute treatment of bipolar depression. Those for which there’s the best evidence are Lithium and Lamotrigine. Lithium appears to be most effective if you have blood levels of at least 0.8 mmol per litre and for this medication doctors will be normally regularly looking at Lithium levels. The second is Lamotrigine, brand name Lamictal. This is a newer anti-epileptic medication that’s been found to be very effective for bipolar depression and most people will need doses of at least 200mg a day to gain benefit from this.3
I have been slowly edging up my dosage and have hit the 200mg ‘therapeutic’ dosage. If it is needed we can go higher but for now we will be relying on its benefits and ride this wave.
When tapering any medications there have been mostly manageable side effects and with this in mind when starting Lamotrigine I had to be aware of allergic reaction such as a rash which is quite common. Luckily for me there was no rash but I did get painful headaches in the front part of my head and as we upped the dose I was getting them quite frequently. I’m not really a headache type person so this was new to me. I have noticed an increase in my back pain but this could be due to the steroid injections I had in April wearing off. The headaches have subsided now that I have been consistently at 200mg for two weeks let’s just hope it stays this way as being medication resistant it is in the back of my mind I may possibly be wasting my time.
With most of the other medications I have been on there was always a dire need to eat. And eat all the wrong types of food. I have noticed that in the beginning of the increase of Lamotrigine there was some munching going on but since being on the 200mg dosage for over two weeks now my appetite for all the wrong foods has changed and I am choosing the better options over the easier ones. In fact, I lost a kilo without any exercise just with the small changes in my diet. * Definitely winning with this one.
I have also been feeling a bit more perky and social. Working in retail I have had to put on the façade that I love people, I love my job and I am just a happy person (this is very difficult to do when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and disappear from the world) and for such a long time I haven’t been that person. Often the medication I have been on dulled my drive for everything, I lost the Veronica that I was long ago, that fun, fiery, helpful, carefree, resourceful person. I became a drug induced zombie, my suicidal thoughts reigned havoc on my life and the daily struggle to be present for MC and my children. They have suffered the most through my illness they have put up with my hatred for myself and my mental illness. I have had a general disregard for life, for living and for people, for sex, for friendship, for family, for myself. I am not saying that I don’t have these struggles going through my head as they are always bouncing around in here. I still can’t focus on my drive to and from work because I pass the five different spots where I had planned driving the car off the bend at 140k’s into the tree or power pole. I don’t have a big circle of friends and often the acquaintances that I do have fear the Bipolar self that they imagine me to be, or in all honesty I fear they will not like the me that I am.
I am looking forward to going to work, yet I am still trying to like people. In these last two weeks I am getting up before my alarm. I am doing chores that I have been putting off forever like a huge clean out of the fridge and pantry, something that I find desperately mundane but actually enjoyed doing. If I can get out of the dishes I will, but I haven’t looked at it as an act of sheer adulthood, I just felt that it has to be done so just get on with it. I have been putting in effort into being present for the kids and actually listening to their stories and being able to respond with a genuine interest. I have more energy and surprisingly I have a genuine smile on my face, one that is not pretend.
I did have a huge sexual appetite when I was younger. I used sex as a way to get attention, to feel important, to get the affection that I needed and often to get what I wanted. In all the years of medication I have been on it dulled the desire. It would only be when I was manic that I would interested and experimental not so vanilla and consider it a chore that has to be done in married couple life. Whether it is because of the perky mood or from the medication I have been feeling a need for the connection I once had with MC. Much to his surprise he has even made comment as to what it is that is different or am I feeling well or going off the rails and into a manic phase again. (It is hard for people to imaging a viable sex life between MC and I given his weight but we have managed to make it work for us for sixteen years, three children later and were are still learning new tricks….hahahahah) I guess we both won’t be complaining about this possible side effect in the near future.
I have even been thinking about doing some more study and looking at more career options and bless that I am wanting to write more.
If this is my last resort medication and all I have left for a medication resistant bipolar person, so far I am feeling many more benefits than I had expected in such a short period of time. I will push forward in the hopes that this is the right way to go and that with more time I will be a functioning person with brighter things in my future; like friends, and stronger family connections and the Las Vegas Elopement I have been wanting to happen for a few years now.