Who would have thought that for five years I have been in a haze and presently I believe it was my prescription for Lithium. I have been religiously taking it morning and night along with my other medicines (Effexor and Seroquel) and having much faith in my community mental health department and one of the many Psychiatrists I have seen.
I have struggled far too long; I have put my family and what friends I have left through dealing and learning to surive being ME. I have been proactive in my treatments and getting on the right path for a good 4 years, but I had been smothered by a haze of lithium.
I lost focus on everything. For years I haven’t understood why my loss of ambition took over me especially after I landed and awesome job. I like structure but the bipolar me is a free spirit. After a year and a half of phenomenal drive, focus and promise my bipolar self doubt crept in and I began to discount how good I was at my job. My focus changed from controlling my work environment to mini manic episodes where I couldn’t separate the work me and the home me. I ended up resigning, I regret it some days and the some days I realise that there will be something awesome around the corner I just have find the bipolar me that works.
I have been disgustingly exhausted, flat out no energy. I can nap at any time of the day and still wake up like I have been hit by a train. Since stopping the lithium and after the week of withdrawals I have napped only once. I am still working through having no energy but I am not exhausted on a daily basis.
After my most recent batch of ECT (this was my third batch of 9 sessions). MC and I have been concerned that they didn’t work well. After the last two batches of ECT my mood became elevated straight away. We saw instant change in my everyday demeanour but not this time. My Dr upped my lithium and asked for a blood test which is common on lithium. I really want to be well and I applied the increase straight away. But I still had NO change. I began to have crazy side effects. I asked MC to take over all driving as I had double vision and little concentration. I began to get horrible twitches and muscle spasms. I would have failing arms and legs at night. When sitting down I had highly visible shaking that I could not stop. MC and I were worried. I contacted mental health to see the doctor but he only had appointments for four weeks time. I booked. The case work said my lithium level was a little high but I should be ok until the appointment.
The side effects were becoming so severe that I couldn’t leave the house. So not only was I still so very depressed,I was suffering the side effects of the lithium which made me house bound. Not a good bipolar situation. My breathing was erratic some days and I would wake in the middle of the night to myself gasping like I had stopped breathing. At this point I recalled mental health and forced my situation, I needed an emergency appointment with the Dr or MC was taking me to the hospital. I got the appointment and saw the Dr the next morning. He told me to stop all lithium, really is it just that easy? He said the withdrawals will not be nice but if I think (not him) that it is the lithium giving me all the side effects I should stop it.
Withdrawals were horrible, I was clammy, I had headaches and I had an insatiable thirst that no matter how hard I tried I was still thirsty. My face flared up and my skin was so angry. I’m still suffering from angry skin. It took about four to five days to get through the worst of the withdrawals.
It has been three weeks since I stopped the lithium. The haze has lifted somewhat. I haven’t had any muscle spasms, and I’m not so exhausted. MC said my daily stability has been good and I’m not having massive spack attacks, I’m not getting frustrated as frequently and that I have been easier to get along with.
I feel better. It has been such a long time since I have said that. I have been able to filter my reactions to the kid’s instead of blowing my top I am getting the chance to refocus and react better. I feel motivation to get up and get dressed and I have been driving again which gives me the freedom to escape. I even felt strong enough to take on study for a year. Just enough study to build up my confidence I hope. I just sent off my first assignment.
This week I am meeting my new psychologist it’s a big step having to dig up the pain again but having the lithium out of my system should give me a better chance at managing my emotions. I have to continue in baby steps but I’m thinking maybe I need to rethink the rest of my medication and consider coming off them and seeing how I am drug free, but that will be another days thought.