Bipolar Disorder

Double Whammy

Stock-Boxing-Gloves.jpgAt times, we must deal with several changes all at once.  In my case I was due for a “recharge” of hormones and had a change to my medication within a few days of one another.

The debilitating anxiety that I was experiencing, triggered my Psychiatrist to eliminate the Wellbutrin that I was taking every morning.  In addition, we increased the Lithium dose that I take in the evening.  This change took place the end of last week.  On Monday, I received a renewal of my hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  This “recharge” as I like to call it, we injected two estrogen pellets and one testosterone pellet.  It was a higher dosage than we have done in the past, as it was made very clear that I suffer when my levels are too low.  I suffer from depression and major anxiety if my estrogen is too low, and other less than desirable side effects when the testosterone drops.

So far, I have noticed that an increase in Lithium has seemed to cause an increase in dry skin, especially on my hands.  It’s as if my hands are made of crocodile skin, they are dry and flaky, course enough that they could sand a course surface.

The most notable side effects that I have been experiencing is dull, pounding headaches that last much of the day.  Taking over the counter pain killers are doing nothing to combat the symptoms.  I also have been dealing with nausea that is wrecking my world.  I’ve never been pregnant, but I believe, from the research I have done, that I am experiencing symptoms that are similar to morning sickness.  An increase in my appetite, is driving me to feel like I am eating non-stop and therefore triggering eating disorder thoughts.  The related weight gain, is not helping with the anorexia demons that have come and gone in my life over the last some fifteen years.

I find it to be quite frustrating not knowing what change is causing which side effect.  Is it the Lithium that is causing the headaches and nausea, or is that from the hormones?  Is the weight gain and appetite increase from the Lithium, or the hormones?  I have spent an immense amount time trying to pin point what is going on and I am just lost.

I uttered the words that should never come out of my mouth last night… I said, “I think I will stop taking my meds!”  I know that this is not a rational thought, and it is not something I acted on, but I am so incredibly tired of feeling like crap every day.  Mind you, I don’t feel horrible everyday all day, yesterday I have a few hours of relief and I was able to spend quality time with my son and we had a blast.  But, more time than naught is spent with me feeling like a nail is being drilled into my skull and the fear that I may heave my supper.

I see my Psychiatrist again in a week and plan to report all that I have been experiencing.  I will maintain the mindset that this too shall pass and that I will persevere and overcome this obstacle.  As this is the way I have always approached my mental health issues.

For the others that may be going through a challenging time right now, don’t give up.  Focus on the positives in each moment of your day, every day.  Know that what you are experiencing will pass, in time.  And always remember to keep your doctor advised of all the things that you are encountering so they have all the information and are better able to assist you.

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Bipolar Disorder

Salt in my Shaker: Lithium

salt-shaker-on-tableLithium is derived from the Greek word lithos which stands for stone.  We pronounce it as LITH-ee-em.  It is part of the group Alkali Metal on the periodic table of elements and holds the the atomic number three while bearing the symbol of “Li”.  Drugs.com defines Lithium as being a “component that affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body.”   It started to be used in the field of psychiatry in 1949.  Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, by preventing or lessening the intensity of manic episodes.

When I saw my doctor on Friday, we determined that increasing my Lithium would provide benefits to the anxiety that I was experiencing.  I was to start with an additional 150 mg that night, and remove the Wellbutrin that I usually take in the morning.  I was fine with the prescribed change, but worried about how it would affect me.  My body can be quite sensitive to medication and I usually experience numerous effects as my body is getting used to the change.

Per www.drugs.com, the following are common lithium side effects:

  • drowsiness;
  • tremors in your hands;
  • dry mouth, increased thirst or urination;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain;
  • changes in your skin or hair;
  • cold feeling or discoloration in your fingers or toes;
  • feeling uneasy; or
  • impotence, loss of interest in sex.

Less Common Side effects include:

  • Confusion, poor memory, or lack of awareness
  • fainting
  • fast or slow heartbeat
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • irregular pulse
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • troubled breathing (especially during hard work or exercise)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain

 

It is day three/four (third night, fourth day) and the nausea that I have had since Saturday is still lingering and getting worse after each time that I eat.  I am exhausted, regardless of the amount of sleep that I had the night prior.  Sunday afternoon after lunch I slept for three hours and still managed to sleep all night that evening.  The shaking in my right arm has increased, but thankfully it is only present when I am tired.  My head is pounding and I can’t think.  It took me 30 minutes this morning to remember a password for a site that I log into every few days.

I already have a problem with excessive hair loss from the last time we increased my Lithium, so I am hoping that does not get worse, or I may need to go all Britney Spears circa 2007 and shave my head.  It’s too early to tell if I will suffer from weight gain, but that seems to be something that I am more prone too as my past has shown me.

Driving this morning was not as bad, I left a little bit later so there would be less traffic on the road.  My heart did not speed up each time I saw a red brake light and I did not freak out when a car pulled up beside me.  I was listening to the newest Taylor Swift album, Revolution, so perhaps that was the key to my success, but most likely it was the effects of the Lithium increase.

Time will tell how this change in medication, the increase in Lithium and decrease in Wellbutrin, will affect me.  I am optimistically hoping that good changes will come.  That I will not sink into a depression from the lack of the Wellbutrin like I did the last time that we removed it, and that I will not gain weight as I did when we first started the treatment two years ago.

I trust that my doctor is making the best decisions for my health and overall well-being.  I will be patient and will persevere through the less than appealing side effects as my body becomes used to the changes in my body.  I will produce nurture and love to myself through words of affirmation and focusing on the positives in each and everyday while allowing myself to be slow to any emotion when it comes to dealing with others, as who knows what battle they are fighting at this time (as they do not know the battles that I am enduring myself).  I will succumb to my stubbornness and make some much needed changes to my diet and focus on the long term benefits and not the struggle that I am enduring to eliminate certain foods from my diet.

This too shall pass…

Bipolar Disorder

Girls Night Out

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Due to the busyness of the everyday lives that we live, we don’t often take the time to socialize with our friends.  When you have children, most of your focus is spent on your offspring and we tend to neglect our own personal needs.  I believe it is incredibly healthy to set time aside to spend quality time with those that are within our support system.

Girls Night Out often holds a negative stereotype of women dressed up in seductive outfits, letting their hair down physically and metaphorically, and engaging in risky behavior due to being “kept” for an extended period.  However, this is not always the case, at least in my own personal experience.

I planned a Girls Night Out for Saturday night as my partner would be out of town and I wanted to spend time with my friends.  Yes, we did put extra effort into what we wore, and there was elaborate planning that went into the event.  However, it was not a drunken, flirting, over the top event.

The night started out with bowling and I was in heaven.  The alley blasted great tunage from the 90’s and was a clean facility with amazing and attentive staff.  Following bowling was hopping between a couple of dance clubish bars.

I am not writing to tell you about my night out, there is a catch.  I was sick most of the night which put a major damper on things.  I was nauseous and sick to my stomach.  This was not the flu that has been going around or because I had too much to drink.  This was the result of an increase in medication following my psychiatry appointment on Friday.  To combat the nearly debilitating anxiety that I have been suffering while driving, we chose to increase my Lithium.  The new dose started Friday night and I began feeling the effects of the increase on Saturday.

Being on medication effects my everyday life.  Last night it was glaringly obvious that my life is affected due to my medication and the mental illness of Bipolar Disorder.  I have had to make changes to my life as result of the diagnosis and the medication that I am on.  I have been stubborn with making some suggested changes due to my refusal to give up all the things that I love.  However, there are times when my body makes it incredibly clear that it does and doesn’t want certain things.

I must remind myself that I need to listen to my body and when necessary make changes based on what my body says.  Being a hard-headed person in general, I have lived with the mentality of I will do what I want when I want and how I want, with no regard to whether this is good for my overall wellbeing.  It is a new year and I am in a different place than I was this time last year, or even a month ago.  I can not change the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder and that I need to be on medication to maintain stability.  I do have the control over the choices that I make.  I was disappointed that I was not feeling well last night and did not have the over the top time that I was expecting to have.  But, I still had a good time, enjoyed getting dressed up and socializing with my friends.

There is room for a socially fulfilling life with Bipolar Disorder, but it may have to be adjusted and slightly massaged to meet the new “normal” of my life.  Today, I start the process of accepting this and to relent in my fighting against it.