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Life with a side of Lithium

Because money spent while manic doesn't fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense – K. Jamison

Tag Archives: bipolar 2

So you’ve been diagnosed as Bipolar II. My first instinct was to go research meds and make sure I wasn’t going to get anything that caused me to gain weight. I was already overweight and I refused to add more pounds. This was also a symptom of my Bipolar: “Well, I’ll only get help so long as I don’t gain an extra pound”.

This is what is “hilarious” about bipolar. Most of the time it’s tough for me to even get out of bed let alone exercise but I am unwilling to take a medication that may cause me to gain weight? But research I did and I found exactly what I wanted to take, Lamictal.

When it was time for my psychiatrist to prescribe me, I was tense. I didn’t want all those other evil drugs that were hell bent on making me a fatty. The drug I feared the most was Lithium. When she said “I think we should start you out on Lamictal” I was relieved.

The target dose she set me at was 200mg. We started low (25mg) and worked our way up. Note: for those of you wanting to take Lamictal they start you off low to make sure you aren’t allergic. If you are you could potentially develop a fatal rash.

When I made it to 100mg I was feeling the best I ever have in my entire life. I was able to let small things go, was more pleasant to be around, drank immensely less and could finally release the healthy person inside of me. I wasn’t emotionally eating anymore and could stop eating when I was full. Lamictal was making me a better person and it was also making me a thinner person. I was elated.

From what I read I knew this wasn’t going to last forever. The effects of Lamictal do start to dissipate and I had to cope with the fact that I would eventually need to supplement it, most likely with Lithium. I just didn’t anticipate that it would happen so quickly.

My next post will cover Lithium but I want to talk about Lamictal for a minute. This is a great drug to start with if you are Bipolar II (I don’t want to speak for BP I’s…maybe you all could add some insight?). It endlessly keeps my depression at bay. Whenever I am low I never get to that dark, suicidal place. But, for me, it has lost its effects rather quickly. I am back up to 200mg and I do need to supplement.

It would be great to hear from all of you about your medication and how it has helped/effected you.

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When I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, I had moments of clarity mixed with moments of anger followed by relief that I finally had an answer as to why I was… kinda nuts sometimes.

My psychiatrist first gave me some literature on Bipolar II. She told me to go home, get informed, and come back in a week to tell her if I agreed with the diagnosis or not.

When I read some of the symptoms of (hypo)mania I was at first skeptical. I really didn’t think the majority of the symptoms fit me. However, there were a few symptoms that resonated with me and after I completed my research I knew that the diagnosis was correct. Note that I didn’t focus too much on the depressive symptoms. I knew that I struggled with extreme depression for as long as I could remember and that it had a debilitating effect on my life.

The interesting thing about getting help is realizing that the symptoms of (hypo)mania that you thought didn’t fit actually do. When we are caught up in that phase we don’t see it as an issue. We just think we have more energy and zeal for life; which is refreshing since you have so many periods of crippling depression. After those meds start to do their job though, you are able to look back to past behavior more clearly and understand that you were that way.

Looking back is also a despairing event. When I start to think about the things I have said, the things I have done or the things I didn’t do I feel regret, embarrassment, shame, and loathing. I know I can’t go back and change anything about it. I know that those events are part of how people view me. I know that because of those things I have hurt people, I have alienated people, and I have ultimately had a much more difficult life because of it. This realization is tough to get over and, to tell you the truth, I still haven’t.

We will all go through a different order of emotions after we are diagnosed. What I take comfort in knowing is that even though the order is different, we all still go through the same emotions.

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When I got diagnosed with Bipolar II there were many questions I wanted answered. They were simple enough to find but I still found that I was missing something. I realized that what I needed was someone to talk to. Someone who knew what having Bipolar was like; someone who knew was like to finally have the “answer” to our life’s ailments.

Maybe I didn’t search hard enough or maybe I had something else in mind. Either way I wanted a community where people came together and could openly talk about Bipolar. To talk about how Bipolar affected their lives and find comfort in knowing that others were going through the same thing.

I know this is not a forum, yet. But my hope is that by blogging about my experiences with Bipolar someone out there can know that they are not alone.

I am not going to presume that Bipolar is different in each of us; I know it is. Part of the reason I am doing this is so I can learn from all of you! I hope you enjoy this blog and when you come here know that you are part of a community, part of something special. Because although Bipolar makes us all feel not so great sometimes, that doesn’t mean we are anything less than amazing individuals.

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