A Dose Of My Own Medicine

Did I mention that my medications were adjusted in the hospital?

I haven’t talked about meds in quite a while, other than to whine about still being on Zyprexa after eight months. They continue to be the mainstay of my treatment, and I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that I am going to be on a cocktail of psychiatric medications for the rest of my days. I can’t imagine a life without them now. I don’t want to imagine a life without them…..God only knows what a train wreck I’d be if I didn’t have my meds. Perish the thought!

But yeah, they got tweaked when I was inpatient, though it wasn’t as extensive an adjustment as I’d feared. The Zyprexa was bumped up to 7.5 mg and Lamictal up to 400 mg, which is pretty much maxed out. I still have hopes of going back down on the Vitamin ‘Z’ someday, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it. And I don’t know what will happen if the Lamictal stops working…..then it’s lithium, I guess. That’s the drug I dreaded so much that I avoided seeing a doctor for over a decade after realizing that I was probably bipolar. I didn’t know much about BP in those days except that lithium was the primary treatment for it, and since I knew what the side effects were, I wanted no part of it.

Lithium is scary because it can kill your thyroid and cause kidney problems. It also can be poisonous in certain circumstances and ineffective in the case that the dosage is too low. You also have to have blood tests periodically to see if the level of lithium in your blood is what they call therapeutic. If you catch a stomach virus and get dehydrated, you can become toxic and even die. On the other hand, it’s saved thousands of lives since it became the gold standard of bipolar treatment in the mid-20th century, so it still has its uses despite the hassle.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, but I’m not as firmly opposed to lithium as I once was. For one thing, it might make anti-psychotics unnecessary, and for another, this disease has caused me enough misery that I’ll do just about anything to tame it. I am so over this I could scream. I know it’s illogical, but sometimes I wish I could go back in time to the way things were before I was first diagnosed. I wish I could be blissfully ignorant of this illness like I was back then. But then, I would probably have kept getting worse and not understanding why, and I wouldn’t have learned that there were remedies for it that weren’t as intimidating as lithium.

Even so, I sometimes toy with the idea that medications might have made things worse instead of better. I existed for 53 years without anything but Ativan and an anti-depressant; I don’t remember having to fight so hard for my sanity, nor experiencing this many ups and downs. Then I remember that I was getting worse for several years before I finally saw a psychiatrist, and that I no longer throw screaming fits, go after people with garden implements, or spend every dime I have on worthless crap. Who knows what might have happened if I’d never gone on meds—for all I know, I could have wound up in the state hospital, or even prison.

So I’ll continue as I have for the past 33 months, taking my medicine faithfully (well, I forget every so often, but those times are few and far between), getting enough sleep, and doing my therapy with the great Dr. Awesomesauce. None of those things is negotiable—they are almost as essential to life as breathing. And I want to live.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

9 thoughts on “A Dose Of My Own Medicine

  1. There is a peace in just going w/ what works (the ole if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) – but of course the random thought occurs that maybe I could function better (read: WORK like a normal person) – if I just had my meds tweaked a little, if I just could have a little hypomania which gives me energy + confidence (= cojones) – if only if only … well, holidays can kick off a little wishful thinking + dysfunction so best not to even consider it til well after new years. I will think about/talk about it more if need be then. Meanwhile – just enjoy being out of the hospital and having relative dis-ease for at least a month … xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I know on an intellectual basis that I can’t work, at least not full time and/or at a job where I’m exposed to too much “busy-ness”. But I also don’t know how long Will and I can live on what he gets from Social Security. I just don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

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