After a 10 year hiatus, I’m going back on lithium. It’s one of those things – kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. The anxiety just continues to eat away at me, kind of like being pecked each day. I have difficulty with social situations and I’m sure it’s clear that my job is a rough existence. I spoke to my regular doctor last month and she referred me to this psychiatrist to do the med monitoring because there are a lot of heavy-duty side effects to contend with. Ok, it’s also good to have the person who is most knowledgeable dealing with your mental welfare.
Prior to having my kids, I had unreal mood swings. Now that I understand my social anxiety and control issues better, I have a fairly good understanding about why I drank and generally didn’t take care of myself back then. Then I got pregnant with Brennan and the mood swings disappeared, at least during the pregnancy. I experience mild post-partum depression with Bren and more intense post-partum depression after Aidan.
Now here I am. It has been years and I’ve been under excessive stress since about 2006. It really got amped up in spring of 2009, when I left the university and went to the software company… until I hit the financial aid office and now I’m seeing truly unreal levels of stress, particularly in combination with graduate school, Todd being a full-time student, and having small children.
I read the side-effects list for lithium (which is always horrifying, regardless of the medication you are taking) and felt that moment of “HOLY CRAP – what am I doing to myself?” Well. I’m doing what I need to do, I guess. I’m heading for a reduction in mental cognition and (I’m already there) GI issues. The trade-off? Perhaps hanging on to my job. Perhaps finishing my degree. Perhaps not having the feeling that I don’t want to leave the house because I feel so incredibly ill being around groups of people.
Past side-effects? Hypothyroidism, which I’m fairly certain is the reason I had a miscarriage in 2001. Blurred vision? Hell, I couldn’t tell anyway… I’m blind as a bat to begin with.
What do I NOT care about with regards to this stuff? Flat affect or a sense that I’ve lost anything emotionally. In my instance, the control freak in me is truly counting down until the crap I am exposed to on a psychological basis doesn’t trigger much response in me. That would be sheer heaven. I know it won’t impact my love or interactions with my kids and likely will help me to deal with their intensities, so I’m good there.
Todd and I are in “room mate” land right now anyway. Maybe I’ll stop being such a freaking nit-picker with him. Poor guy.
Yeah, well… one thing at a time.
I know this isn’t a cure for my situation and I’ll have to coordinate my fitness/weight loss activities carefully so I don’t go toxic – particularly with the crappy heat we get here. I’m drinking tons of fluids and I’m trying not to focus on the negative, especially the toxic thing. Mostly I’m just hoping that I get the benefits sooner, rather than later because the closer August gets, the more I want to cry at the thought of dealing with it in our office.
One final thought and then it’s time for dinner: I don’t want to tell my boss about it. I don’t want to have to tell them about having to take this damned medication. I am praying that I don’t get into a problem at work (thinking side effects again) and have to tell them why. I’ve seen the diagnosis of Bipolar affect my medical care, my friendships, and my sense of my place in the world. I would like this one thing to go well and to NOT be a problem in my office.
That’s it. I’ve been on the lithium (ER) for two days. 7-10 for the effects to start working. Please cross your fingers that I tolerate it, that it makes my world better, and that it doesn’t kill my body.