Going on two weeks of lithium

It’s definitely better than it was. The pills aren’t hitting me as hard, though I’m still having a hard time taking even 600 a day. I have slowly been able to do a little bit more. Nothing academic, nothing that requires my brain, but I’m not as paralyzed as I was.

The one thing I am really afraid of is that I will never write again.

The last thing I wrote was this, 4 AM the day I started lithium. Since then, I think I have been mildly depressed. The shrink thinks I have not slowed down enough and that “Lithium doesn’t slow down thinking anyway.”

It is totally different than the antidepressant experience. Within a few days it slowed my thinking down. Has done wonders for my jitteriness, my ability to endlessly torture myself. Has made me feel what I think normal people feel.

But…I tried to write a few days ago, something that was required of me, and it was horrible. I couldn’t do it, and it ended up looking like a bad 8th grade essay. This broke my heart.

Oddly, I do sort of feel like I felt when I was 10, 12. Before I got this…whatever. (I hate the word disease.) Slow, mildly depressed, not really wanting to live, nothing to look forward to. No sparkle. Even my boyfriend says, “You got so…mild.” I am feelingless, expressionless.

In the weirdness that is modern psychiatry, I guess this would be called improvement. The symptoms are gone; I’m at normal human speed. Maybe if I had been treated right at 16, I wouldn’t hate it so much. The moods wouldn’t be such a part of who I am, of the years that formed my adult identity.

I have only read one medical article (or a couple by the same guy) in which the author admits, “Because dilute expressions of the illness may persist between major episodes, aggressive treatment with mood stabilizers can comprise adaptive functioning and what is unique to the patient as a person. Except in the acute phases of the illness, the emphasis in treatment should be more on functioning than complete mood stabilization.” (Akiskal KK, Akiskal HS. The theoretical underpinnings of affective temperaments: implications for evolutionary foundations of bipolar disorder and human nature. Journal of Affective Disorders 85 (2005) 231–239.)

This normal, quiet, “mild” me sucks. I hate her more than crazy me. At least crazy me is me. I want to cry when I think about all the choices I’ve made, going into such a serious profession, being so boring, trying to shove back and quash the real me. If I had been less afraid, known what was coming, I could have gone to art school after all.

Oddly enough, the suicidal thoughts are back. This is strange because I am not really unhappy. And this is supposed to be the drug par excellence  for stopping suicide. I can see why. You couldn’t possibly care enough on it to do much.

And why can doctors only see symptoms to eliminate? Great, now Sara is just like everyone else. They’re happy.

And I am…not.



  1. It will pass. I sent you an email. Hugs.

  2. Can’t say I can relate much. I’m just a garden variety depressive (I think), nothing so exotic as you bipolar folks.

    I can relate to the suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, when at rock-bottom, I can’t think of anything, much less say a good suicide plan. About all I can do is pace, pray, and cuss. When my meds get tweaked and I start feeling better, sometimes, strangely, then I start thinking about suicide. Anyway …


  3. Thanks BLC and Rob. Rob – do you have times between episodes when you are ok? That makes me jealous – depressives can be ok in between…can get better. I guess we can too, but you still don’t get to go off meds.

  4. Sara – After I guess six or seven years on meds, I quit taking them. I didn’t feel like I was getting any better, just fatter and number. Against medical advice I went cold turkey. After some serious withdrawl symptoms that went on for a month or so, I felt alright for about a year. Then about six months ago I started slipping again. Finally I had to choose between being absolutely miserable, returning to active addiction full-time, killing myself, or trying to get established with a new doc and all that that entails. It wasn’t easy, but I chose the later, at least up to this point.

    Something I’m noticing as I work on my memoirs is that I don’t really know how I was feeling or what I was thinking a lot of the time I was medicated, either with prescribed meds or the things I found on the street. So anything I say or write is somewhat suspect. I’m just not really sure what was going on with me much of the time, especially in the last several years.

    When I was medicated before, I’d often raised the question of coming off the meds, or at least some of them, with my docs and therapist. The docs were evasive but usually ended up prescribing more and different combinations. My therapist was more forthcoming. She told me I’d probably wind up in a straight jacket if I quit. She wasn’t too far off. It just took about a year to work out like she thought it would.

    Peace and good luck. Luck is everything.

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