Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Fever: Revving Up

"I want to stop taking Lithium."

"Okay. Let's give it a try."

"What!? Really. Ok, great!..."

I was sitting in my psychiatrist's office last week, giving her the speech I had prepared in the car on the way over to my appointment. I was ready to tell her how I don't think Lithium is working for me, how I've pretty much been depressed in the two and a half months I've been on it, and how I am suffering from it's side effects (weight gain, thirst, and other odd side effects due to consumption of an ancient salt that coats your brain).

"Yeah, I think it is worth a try. And you still have the Lamictal, which used to be all you took, but with the Wellbutrin..."

(When I entered the hospital in December, the very first thing my psychiatrist there did was take me off of Wellbutrin, a well-known antidepressant. I had been taking it for eight years, to level out the flattening effects of Depakote, a mood stabilizer I used to take. "No. I do not like Wellburtrin in Bipolar patients. It can cause anxiety." Welllllll, THAT would have been nice to know for the past several years of borderline panic attacks, but, whatever. Point is, I no longer take the antidepressant Wellbutrin.) 

For the remainder of my psychiatrist appointment, my doctor and I agreed upon a titration plan that would involve decreasing Lithium by 300mg every two weeks, making me Lithium-free by April 25th. For all intents and purposes, this is an experiment. I am reaching the edges of possibility with meds and med combos for Bipolar Disorder, and I am ready to take out the big guns, even if that means going off some of my medicine.

One of the many things you hear about a mental illness like Bipolar, especially when something violent occurs in society, is something like, "He/she has Bipolar Disorder and went off his/her meds." 

It's like the over-arching excuse for any bizarre or inappropriate behavior. And I hate this "excuse" because it's not indicative of the majority of people who manage a mood disorder. 

On the contrary, most people who struggle with mental illness are keen observers of their own behavior. It's like any other kind of physical challenge. If you have Diabetes, you know more about Diabetes than someone who doesn't have Diabetes. 

However, there is one small exception. One caveat with this statement when it comes to Bipolar Disorder. The caveat is that, when people with mood disorders start to turn hypomanic (manic-lite) or full blown manic, they are often the last to know. It's interesting because, on the other end of the spectrum, a depressed person is the first to know he/she is depressed, often weeks, months, even years in some cases before anyone else knows. But, again, with mania or hypomania, unless someone is highly versed in Bipolar symptoms (I consider myself in this category, still learning though, of course), she can be the last to know that she's "revving up" - a term used to describe the escalating behavior patterns of a manic episode. 

And an interesting phenomenon about revving up is that it typically takes place in the spring. 

"Not everyone with bipolar is vulnerable to mood episodes that coincide with the seasons (known as seasonality). For those who are, the typical pattern is depression that recurs in the winder and hypomania or mania in springtime or summer." - BP Hope Magazine 
So, is this my coming out post about going hypomanic just in time for the new Spring fashions? No.
It's more about the hope and excitement of trying a new strategy with my doctor in the quest for normalcy makes me feel...excited? (or, dare I say it)... Happy??

I admit. It's kind of a hail Mary. I've read that some people who go off Lithium become even more depressed, like so depressed they cannot even get out of bed for weeks (I have yet to experience a depression that severe). And other people, of course, go manic, high as a kite. But then, there is a third possibility. There is a possibility that through sleep, exercise, DBT, interpersonal social rhythm therapy, and more techniques that I could, can, will eventually be in remission of my Bipolar symptoms. If I get there one day, you are all invited to a big, fabulous Bipolar party with a big ass cake.

Fingers crossed,


  1. Waiting for big ass cake!!!

  2. I am baking the big ass cake franky as we speak. I love you.