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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lithium, Part 2

Am now at the start of my third week on lithium carbonate, better known in the common vernacular as plain old "lithium".

Lithium has been a funny drug for me.  On one hand it has worked wonders with the depression: something which I've had to endure a particularly excruciating bout with during the past month.  The thoughts of wanting to be dead - really the thoughts of not wanting to "be here" anymore as opposed to seriously wanting to be dead - are no longer actively present.  Not "gone", but not impacting my daily life right now.  I don't want those thoughts to ever be truly gone.  If they were, I wouldn't remember what that depth of depression is like.  If I don't remember, there is nothing of the pain from which to learn and to grow from.

On the other hand lithium has accelerated my awareness of the world around me, and in some ways to almost as debilitating a degree as I was without it.  I'm unclear as to whether it's because I'm still getting used to the medication or because it's been longer than I can remember since I had this clear a perception of the world absent either the mania or the depression.  (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Do NOT go off lithium cold-turkey if you have the same experience with this drug.  Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your drug schedule.)

I want to believe that one of the reasons God has made me have bipolar and especially the depression part of it is so I can help those who are also suffering from this.  Perhaps that's not really for me to ascribe purpose to, but it's one of the things which I cling to.  I have to believe that there is some meaning behind this.  That God doesn't let things happen for no reason, and this especially.

Anyway, I'm now well into my regimen of lithium.  I'm due for bloodwork soon, because lithium is something which needs consistent monitoring: making sure that it's being absorbed in the proper amount, both for its effects and also so that its more deleterious effects are avoided (namely with the liver).  As for how it's been working...

Like I said, the suicidal thoughts are being readily suppressed.  The depression isn't gone completely but neither am I curled up on the sofa with numbed thoughts racing through my head and making me unable to work... and I do need my work.  But to work I have to overcome the paralyzing thoughts of nullility (I made that word up).  Some might think it's ridiculous to hear that one is unable to compel his own mind to think.  For me it's not ridiculous, it's only too real.  I'm regaining an ability to think and to write.

It's time which I'm putting to good use, because I am writing a book about my life with bipolar disorder.  Lord only knows if it will ever be published.  If nothing else I'll be able to honestly say that I've written a book.  It's going to be about everything pertaining to being bipolar: the manic phases and what they drove me to do, the depression, the costs of bipolar in terms of friendships and marriage and career opportunities, the drugs, and also some surprisingly positive aspects of bipolar.  Along with a few other... well, things not normally associated with mental illness.  I think it will all make sense though.  It will also be as brutally honest as anything posted on this blog.  More so, even.

To write that we've had to adjust my medication slightly, including the lithium, because it's worked well.  It's worked too well!  My awareness has been drastically heightened.  So much so that even going outside to walk Tammy (my miniature dachshund) became overwhelming in terms of sight and sound.  The "easy" choices are to either be manic and have my creativity run rampant, or to be in depression and then my thoughts be empty, vacuous, numb to all stimuli.  It hearkens back to the hell curve which I wrote about a few years ago.

Other effects of my personal usage of lithium have included a change in taste perception and a lessened appetite.  My taste buds seem to have adjusted in recent days: at least the pizza from Papa John's seemed perfectly normal.  In regard to appetite, I've lost a number of pounds already.  Maybe that's compensation for the craziness I went through with Seroquel.  Friends and family have told me in the past few weeks that I'm already looking the best I have in a number of years.  Maybe it'll keep up... but not too much!

So, lithium has me closer to that mark of perfect equilibrium.  I doubt I will ever hit the mark right on target, and if I do I know it won't be long staying there.  And it will always be a struggle to some degree to hover around that sweet spot between mania and depression.  But for now, I'm enjoying a measure of peace.  Like an island in the eye of a hurricane.

That's all for now.  Back to writing this book.