Why am I unmedicated?

At first, it was because I was switching from Depakote to Lithium.

Then, in the mild mania presumably triggered by going off the mood stabilizer, I started a blog and began to question my diagnosis and my treatment.  I thought that treating my anxiety might be the way to go, since it’s the only diagnosis I felt confident in.

Then the mania turned into a few terrible days of mixed state — an activated, jittery, but negative place.  I was very irritable, and flew into several rages at my partner, after which I felt consumed by self-loathing and the desire to hurt myself.  I took some Seroquel during these days, because it was just too unbearable, and I was worried I would do serious damage to myself or my partner.

My horrible mixed state helped me accept that I have an illness — my partner pointed out, as he often does, that I would never choose to feel or behave like *that*.  It’s hard to distinguish the illness from myself — this mostly genetic, maybe environmental, uncurable, somewhat treatable disorder sometimes seems like all of me and other times seems so alien.

Having accepted that I need medicine to treat my illness, I called my psychiatrist.  I proposed staying off meds for another few weeks and documenting my moods, to give both him and me a better sense of my symptoms. He seemed to like the idea, and we made an appointment for November 13th.

Since then, I’ve been in a mild depression.  Showering is hard.  Going to work seems impossible, but I am still able to do it.  Everything seems hopeless and worrisome.  I’m tired all the time, but I can’t sleep well.

I think I might have rapid cycling, but regardless of my diagnosis, I just want some treatment. I’m going to call my pychiatrist on Monday and ask what I should take.

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These side effects made me think I should go off of Depakote (1000mg/day) and try Lithium:

  • itchy face
  • extremely sensitive scalp
  • more hair in the hairbrush than usual
  • my latest period lasted less than 2 days
  • weight gain (not that I expect it to be better with Lithium!)

The psychiatrist agreed (in his typical terse one-sentence-fragment-email), and I’ve been dialing off the Depakote and will be entirely unmedicated by the start of my work week.

I was initially excited about the manic boost I’ve been getting by going off the med….   I was able to start a blog, write over a dozen queued blog posts, clean the kitchen, and make pizza.  Then it escalated, and my thoughts were racing and I was panicking, and I couldn’t get to sleep last night. I had to take a third of a Seroquel today in order to function.

A long talk with my partner made me reassess everything, including starting Lithium.  My serious manic & depressive episodes are in the fairly distant past now, and I’ve only had hypomania and minor depression this year.

The serious stuff has been the anxiety and the mixed states (rages, dysphoria, etc), and I really want to primarily treat that.  If I can do so without going on a hardcore bipolar drug, that would be awesome.

Stay tuned for manic fun or manic horror!

Who knows what medications lurk in the pockets of co-workers?