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Lithium

So, there it is. The word I’ve always dreaded.

My psychiatrist went ahead and prescribed it a little more than a week ago. I guess it seems like the Lamictal is not really stabilizing my moods anymore. I am ashamed of how I have become this aggressive beast whom I don’t recognize. I hate the way I lash out. I can’t stand how angry I stay. And then I want to cry…I think. Yet no tears come. I feel numb. And I want to do something (ANYthing) to make myself feel like I have a pulse. I feel like a walking dead person.

And then there are the feelings that are the non-negotiables as far as any psychiatrist worth his salt is concerned. The feelings that “one would be better off dead.” Ugh. Do I have a plan to harm myself or kill myself, well heck no!! It’s just that feeling of wishing I didn’t have to wake up for quite a number of days. Doesn’t anyone understand that??

I function. I go to work daily. I take care of my physical appearance. I still have a decent filter that keeps me from saying all the horrible stuff that comes to my mind. But I admit that I seem to hate people more. Not REAL hate, you know. Just the feeling of being fed up with most human beings. I mostly don’t want to be bothered. I mostly want to go home after work and wrap myself up in a blanket like a fajita or a big, fat burrito and read a book or watch some Netflix. I wouldn’t mind talking on the phone…but my husband does not approve of my best friend, so that’s out. And I no longer need a phone to talk to my sister since, thankfully, our families now live together.

The good news is that I no longer succumb to the insane shopping sprees that I used to years ago when I was first diagnosed. Whew! Or, at least I mostly don’t. Or, even if I splurge, I don’t spend what I can’t somehow recover. Or, like even if I spend 2 or 3 hundred dollars, it’s not like I spend money that is needed for a bill or something.

The other good news is that I don’t have those voices compelling me to do ridiculous stuff. Or at least even if I DO think crazy stuff, I KNOW it’s crazy and I don’t follow through on it. That should count for something. I guess I’m saying that I don’t have any extra diagnoses like paranoid schizophrenia. So, that’s good.

So why am I writing about this? Because even though this lithium stuff is going to help me with the depression and with the panic attacks and all…it’s not helping yet. I know it’s only been a little more than a week and I am still in the building up phase. I haven’t even been prescribed a full dosage, which I’m glad about since even with such a small amount in my system, I’m going around like a walking zombie. It’s crazy how you can still (almost) function normally, just at a very sloooooowwwww pace. I just feel sleepy and agitated that I can’t spend the day sleeping.

So, no it’s not really helping some of the impulsiveness. I know that I just finished saying that I don’t follow through on the crazy stuff. Yet twice on last week I did something unthinkable and I remember the moment in each situation where the “snap” occurred. It was like I knew both times that I had unexpectedly found myself in an enviable (yet integrity-compromising) situation. I was going to do the right thing, I think. Or at least I was telling myself that I w
ould. I want to think that I would have followed through on the right path, if it hadn’t been for that break. That MOMENT, you know. Sometimes you don’t even recognize the split second that it happens. BUT I DID. I specifically remember making a conscious decision to do what I should not.

And I did. I did what should have remained in the land of ugly possibility. And now it cannot be undone. And I don’t feel very confident that I will do better the next time. Not very confident at all.

In what ways will Lithium help me with things like this?

 

 

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Up and Down (Part 2)

It was difficult to accept the diagnosis of Bipolar from the psychiatrist because of the way I had been raised. We come from a very fundamentalist religious background that pretty much “demonizes” every sort of illness and ESPECIALLY mental illness. I am not pointing fingers at anyone; I’m simply explaining why it was so difficult to accept. What made it worse was the way people would preach a doctrine of physical and spiritual perfection that made those of us who were still struggling in any way do the most hypocritical thing possible: hide our ailments and pretend that everything was okay. Admitting any sort of sickness or disease or disorder or habit after having professed salvation was the same as saying that Christ had died in vain or that despite Christ’s great sacrifice you are lacking in the faith required to receive the benefits. Either way, you’re a loser.

I can’t tell you how many prayer lines I stood in, each time believing that THIS was the night that I would be set free FOREVER. But as the months rolled on, each black pit of depression was blacker than the previous one. I lived in secret misery for years, still proclaiming Jesus as the healing miracle worker who has no respect of persons. I simply attributed my own lack of change to my inability to continually exhibit the faith that was sufficient to move Him. It was like being at the grocery store with .50 cents and the cashier telling you that you need $50. No matter how much you believe in her grace and mercy, and no matter how much you beg and plead, and no matter how much you seek to flatter her with praises you’re not leaving that store until you pay up. That’s the way I saw my own faith deficiency. And with each passing year, I felt more hopeless.

I took the meds. First, Lamictal at the lowest possible dosage. Three months later the psych increase the dosage. Later he added another med and then later increased that dosage as well. At the end of a year, I was on 3 different meds including stuff like Welbutrin and Abilify, all at the highest dosages. Eventually I was not myself in ANY way. I was in a distracted, agitated, sleepy CLOUD which did block out the crazy-impulse voices, but unfortunately also blocked out my own voice. I don’t remember being able to think ANY thoughts or feel any feelings except aggravation and lethargy. I remember wondering what was the point if one way or the other I was still going to feel like a miserable wretch.

Knowing that I had been advised not to ever come off all those meds without doctor approval or supervision, I still did it. My psychiatrist had told me that I would be on medication for the rest of my life, period and that we would just keep switching up and changing things until we found what “worked.” After a year, we had not found that magic combination. So I prayed that God would help me and sustain me when I threw the remaining meds in the trash. I committed to trying to live in a way that would not welcome anymore drama into my life and in return I just wanted Him to help me not to kill myself.

Seven years later, I am still alive. I try to live in a balanced way. I am thankful to have loving, supporting friendships as well as a loving husband. I work a full-time job and am working on a Master’s Degree. Until recently, I had been committed to eating well and getting lots of physical activity; things that I know have an impact on one’s ability to cope with life. Above all, I have embraced a spiritual path of meditation and have been blessed by the teachings of my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. I give glory to God for having stabilized and sustained me thus far.

THAT’s why I was so upset about the recent Psych Eval in which he said he would not recommend me as a candidate for weight loss surgery unless I got back on medication. It’s like a slap in the face and a total disregard for my growth over these seven years.