Bipolar When It Counts











{November 27, 2011}   Meds 1

Ok, so meds.  A big part of life when you have a mental illness.  I can’t share a lot of the technical stuff, as I don’t know any of it, but I can share my experiences with each med I have taken.  So without further ado, here we go.

Lithium

I have been taking this since May 2005.  Every day.  I take 1050mg, which seems to work for me.   The first few months I had problems controlling my bowels, but after I adjusted, it went away.  Also, water is VERY important.  In the beginning, I drank 3 liters of water, every single day.  This on top of all the coffee I was drinking at the time.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the washroom!  lol  Now, though, I drink when I am thirsty, and my serum lithium levels stay at about 8.4, which is really good.

I did have one problem with my lithium.  I ended up with a goiter.  A growth  on my thyroid.  I went off my lithium for about 3 weeks (please don’t try this at home, it was hell) and it seems to have gone away, at least enough that I no longer feel as though I am choking.  Most of the time! lol

Would I recommend lithium?  Yes, if your body can handle it.  Lithium is highly toxic and not everyone can take it.  But it’s definitely worth giving it a chance.

Lithium is the best-known of mood stabilizers, however, it is not the only one.  There are other options for those who find that either Lithium doesn’t work for them, or they have health problems that would prevent them from taking it.  For example, those with kidney problems.

The most important thing you can do while taking Lithium is have regular blood tests.  The effective levels of Lithium can vary widely between patients, and it is very easy for it to rise to toxic levels.  To demonstrate this, one summer we had here was very hot and I didn’t have air conditioning.  I got very sick, vomiting, and was very shaky.  I went to the hospital, where they told me that my serum lithium was 1.0.  This was significantly higher than what I was accustomed to.  It took several days to get things back to normal, lots of fluids to flush it out, and stay as cool as possible.

One more thing.  Lithium cannot flush out of your system on its own.  It actually bonds to the sodium already in your body, and then it can be flushed out.  So, while on lithium, you cannot go on a low sodium diet.  You really do need the salt.  This is the reason I got so sick.  When you sweat, you lose sodium.  The less sodium in your body, the less Lithium your body can eliminate.

All this can be kinda scary, especially when you first start taking it, and you don’t know how you are going to react.  but, trust me, if it works for you, it is well worth the attention you will have to pay.  And it does even out and get easier.

Always, if you have any questions, ask.  Ask your health care professionals.  That’s what they are there for.

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