When I was 17 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I didn't like the diagnosis so I chose a different shrink. Then I spent a few years travelling the world, writing a book, going back and forth from being on top of the world to not being able to get out of bed. I am now 26 and after many life-long mental, physical and emotional scars from my mania, which have added PTSD to my list of problems, I have finally begun the process of accepting my disease and that i will have to take medication every day in order to hold a job, repair my relationships, and maintain any healthy relationships or activities. My depressions were getting too long and too hard on my partner and my highs were getting too high and dangerous and also very hard on my partner, family, and general well being. Kaiser put me on 1.5mg of Ativan for 14 months and offered no therapy, just an addiction. When I finally decided to get better help I started weekly therapy and was put on 200mg of Lamictal a day and can take 2-4mg of Xanax as needed (for the PTSD, depressions, paranoia, flashbacks, etc), also I take Saphris at night to help with the sleep. The Saphris has been extremely helpful in allowing me to get a good nights rest, which allows me to function the next day. The slow ascension of the Lamictal allowed me to not feel the bad side effects as much as I built up to the full dose.
Yesterday Doc started me on Lithium 400mg. On top of the Lamictal 200mg, Xanax 2-4mg, and Saphris. I took it last night and I now feel a little... well, dumb. Literally. I am having problems connecting sentences in my head and my stomach hurts. I woke up extremely sluggish and have never been a coffee drinker... I am now. I am also a writer, and am terrified that my stories, the ones I write and the stories of my life will be duller, more boring, more "traditional," more of all the things I didn't want my life to be. But I don't want to put my family or myself through anymore than I already have, and I have decided on continuing the medications. I am terrified that I will lose "myself," not be as funny or creative as I once was, not be the life of the party ever again, never be able to feel like I was on top of the world again... the highs of mania are extremely, extremely, seductive.
I am also very considered about the stigma surrounding Lithium, not just what people (and I) assume about it, but also the long long list of side effects that come with. Also, as an avid traveller, I am afraid of losing or having the medications stolen and then being with out them, especially if I am out of the country. I am just... afraid. And still accepting this life-long disease, and the long list of medications that come with it, and the side effects. It is obviously a very, very steep mountain to climb, and I am afraid.