Things lithium has stolen from me, or the drug of forgetting

My love of aviation. I am too nauseous all the time to continue.

My love of reading. I can still read poetry or essays, but I cannot read a novel because I simply don’t remember what I read the last time.
If I weren’t so drugged, this could be a like a Borges story: The Drug of Forgetting. Lithium puts one in a neutral gear; there is no thought of the future, nor of the past, only an empty present. In this lithium carbonate universe, one does not think; the brain is silent except when given an explicit direction. It can then fulfill the direction, mechanically, with neither willingness nor resentment. Love is absent, as are hate, anger, pleasure, ecstasy, and color. There is hardly sleep nor wakefulness, tired or alert. It all blends into gray. Entire days could be spent in neutral, turned off, staring at nothing and waiting for commands.

While it is a relatively older drug, I wonder if this isn’t the ideal post-modern drug, turning people from fiery madmen, poets and prophets, to industrial drones, cubicle zoos. Not even Thoreau’s quiet desparation remains under the surface, rather an all-consuming hollowness swallows even that. Perfumed, pleasant, efficient, and utterly empty – an old-new drug for the new century.

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9 Comments

  1. I struggle with my lithium too. Hang in there.

  2. I experience the same with morphine, and I was told over the long term, it would cause a dulling effect, as if I’m not dulled now.

    Kay Jamison (you know her right?) wrote in the Unquiet Mind that lithium took away her ability to read for a long time, I want to say it was years…

    Depakote just makes me nauseated.

  3. Hi Sara,
    It’s crumby that Lithium makes you feel this way. Re: the nausea if I drank my Lithium with milk it stopped happening. Is it possible some of the covered in a blanket like feeling is either transient (I’m not sure how long you have been taking Lithium) or maybe a lower dose would help? Other thoughts are augmentinging with an anti-depressant, or a stimulant…that’s what I have done now on Tegretol, and in the past with Epival, Lithium and when I tried Lamotrigine.

    My memory sucks too, as does my concentration. I find it really hard to focus and almost impossible to read a book, unless it is very simple…which sucks because before I became ill I was a six books going at the same time gal.

    I can’t tell if it’s all the medications I’m on, or the lack of sleep, or the sheer brain exhaustion of depression an mood lability. I’m pretty sure the medications are a contributing factor. It was really hard to manage when I worked, so I really feel for how you are feeling.

  4. I don’t like some of the side effects of Lithium. but without it I am a monster. I am mean, verbally abusive, and a terrible person. But if it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be taking it.

  5. Jon – me too.

  6. Sara, i cant sit still without taking my mood stabilizers. I take sodium valproate. i get snappy and really short in temper. i think it just came to a point where i WANTED to live in the society. i wanted to be able to sit and do my six hour labs coz i enjoy them, it gives me a sense of purpose. but with anti psychotics, it is just a totally different story… i have made changes in my life to be able to live without them. i live my life for my own… alot of people left… but i think i am better off without them. funny thing is, they want so much to be back in my life now that they see that the changes for the better and i did the right thing… i tell you more about this later. thanks for dropping by to my place Sara.
    love… Milo

  7. p.s. Sara, i have revealed alot about myself in the comment section of one of my posts: “me and my rights”. i didnt want to make an actual post out of it… not just yet… people might get identified and i really dont want that right now… sorry Sara.
    love Milo

  8. Much kisses. Feel much the same with my medications.

  9. No. I am just not okay with this. I have suddenly begun to forget words and I am tired, really fucking tired of bipolar stealing from me in one way or another. Leave me alone, already! And so, thank you for this, even though your post comes from a place of pain. I’m angry, but not alone. Small consolation right this moment, but still. I just found this post, but many years later, I am hoping you are doing well.


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