Even though my personal life is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, breaking the stigma, and erasing shame, I still feed into a lot of the misconceptions and stereotypes around mental illness. Today’s blog post attempt to explore one of my problematic views, which is my unease around taking the bipolar medication called lithium.
I’m so happy because today
I’ve found my friends
They’re in my head
I’m so ugly, but that’s okay, ’cause so are you
“Lithium” is so common that there is even a Nirvana song named after it. The song’s writer, the late Kurt Cobain, was never confirmed to have bipolar disorder, but his depression was well-documented.
Lithium is still one of the first lines of treatment for bipolar disorder, but ever since my diagnosis, I have lived in fear of being prescribed the drug. Why? I don’t know exactly except that I feel like it would confirm that I am truly crazy. I worry that people will be scared of me if they know that I am taking it. (Yet I still feel it is important to tell the world through this blog in order to do my part to raise awareness). I’ve also heard that it can be dangerous and that there are huge potential side effects, from everything like weight gain, memory problems, hallucinations and more. It has also been said that lithium dulls the senses and can affect your personality.
I don’t know why I am so scared of lithium. It’s just a natural salt. In fact, some studies have shown that small traces of lithium naturally found in water can possibly lead to less suicides in a given area. However, lithium does require frequent blood tests in order to ensure the levels in your blood are not toxic. I also need to be sure to stay hydrated, something I am certainly not great at. However, I need to embrace H2O quickly if I want to stay healthy.
This all sounds a little negative – but most people who take the medication, if they follow their doctor’s instructions, are just fine. In fact, it works really well to stabilize moods. Lithium can lessen the severity and frequency of mania and depression, and as I said earlier, significantly diminish the risk of suicide.
This is going to be a short and sweet blog post because today I am just all out of spoons. (What does that mean? Visit this link to find out.) I told myself that I would publish something on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays no matter what, so here we are.
Why do I have no energy? I spent the entire day lying in bed, not asleep, just lying there. Depression does that to you. I really hope that I can reduce the frequency of these bad days with the lithium. I will update you guys in a month or two on my progress.
I’m going to end this post with a question, as I usually do. Do you take medication for your mental illness? Tell me about it in the comments below! And if you take lithium specifically, I would definitely love to hear your thoughts.