Mental illness

When it flares up, this is what it feels like to me. Imprisonment. Behind bars, unable to get out even as I use all my might to pry the bars apart and run free. I can’t. I’m powerless. Stuck inside, till it, of its own accord, abates or one of the meds I’ve been put on kicks in.

Until then I stay imprisoned. Hopeless, dejected. I forgot to draw the balls and chains around my ankles. I’m sure you can imagine them there.

Goodbye lamotragine

Let me preface this post by saying that I am so grateful that no other member of my family has this infernal disease known as bipolar 1 disorder. And I’m fine with that. I would rather have it than any of my beloved family!

And now the post begins:

Upon the insistence of my psychiatrist, about a year and a half ago, I went back on lamotragine/lamictal. A disastrous drug for me! The last time I was on it for five years, I was manic for the entire five years. The most disastrous time in my adult life. The last time I was not on Lithium either. If someone would have soaked me with gasoline and thrown a lit match at me, that would have been less catastrophic than what this damned lamotragine did to me and my life. I finally ended up in the hospital as my life had turned into communicating with wizards and witches. In the hospital, thanks be to god, I was put back on Lithium and slowly, I got my life back.

Now, a year and a half ago, my relatively new psychiatrist said I could be on lamotragine with Lithium, that if I was taking lamotragine in concert with Lithium, then it wouldn’t make me manic. But he was wrong. I started with a 25 mg dose finally upped to 200 mg. Well at 200 mg now, is when the fireworks started. I’ve slowly been slipping into mania, probably at least for the last two months. Funny thing, when I’m on Lithium, coffee doesn’t make me jittery! When I’m off Lithium or when I’m going into a manicky phase, coffee makes me so jumpy that I can crawl out of my skin. I noticed this effect of coffee on me since the dose of lamotragine was increased to 150 mg a while ago. Unfortunately I didn’t put two and two together. The AHA moment just occurred today. Along with other very erratic behavior, the worsening of my anxiety to a fever pitch, losing 25 lbs… finally I realized lamotrigine was throwing me into a once again disastrous manic phase. I have stopped taking it as of tonight. I am on Lithium, a bipolar girl’s best friend, and Seroquel, another old friend of mine! I hope the poisonous effects of lamotragine wear off soon and I can regain myself and my life.

My husband, who truly is a saint, even he couldn’t stand the level of my anxiety and yes, he was getting angry at me for being hellishly anxious. Today, I finally couldn’t take his anger and told him “I am not my illness!” I told him that my illness is not me! The me that I am gets lost, disappears when bipolar disorder rears its hideously ugly head. And of course he agreed with me and we both decided that I have to stop taking lamotrigine as otherwise I will go into a full blown manic phase and straight back into the hospital. Not at all where I want to be. Thank goodness for this realization before I’m too far gone. Before all of me is lost again.

Some and these are only some of the side effects of lamotragine are listed below. I have pretty much all of them. All psychiatric drugs have horrendous side effects. But for me, there’s nothing worse than lamotragine.

lamotrigine side effects:

Weakness, drowsiness, confusion. Stiff neck, headache. Increased sensitivity to light. Mood or behavior changes, such as depression, anxiety, agitation, hostility, restlessness, mental or physical hyperactivity, suicidal thoughts, as well as total loss of appetite. Clumsiness and unsteadiness.

Dizziness, drowsiness, headache, blurred/double vision, loss of coordination, shaking (tremor).

Always apologizing

Why is it that only people with mental illness have to apologize for their symptoms? Well almost always. No one ever says “I’m so sorry for having a high blood count, but I have leukemia” do they?

I’m sorry I’m so gloomy (and I’m having suicidal thoughts, but you can’t admit that to anyone), I’m in a depression.

I’m sorry I’m such a wreck, I have really bad anxiety.

I’m so sorry I walk too fast, talk too fast, drive too fast, have hyper sexual thoughts but I’m in a manic phase.

I’m really sorry I’m so irritable, I’m in a mixed mood phase.

And anger, don’t forget anger, it comes with all of the above! Anger deserves its very own post.

No, I’m not a drama queen, I have a mood disorder.

I can be very emotional, but that also makes me very empathetic towards other people’s suffering. To use a woowoo term, I’m an empath.

If only I just didn’t have this damn disease so I could bloody well stop apologizing and go on living my life as others without mood disorders do. If only…

And as for self isolation, well I’ve been doing that for years, quite an expert at it!

Ugh! What a joy it must be to live with me!



Also known as health anxiety, or somatic symptom disorder, Hypochondriasis is an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer worries that they have a life-threatening disorder. Often times triggered by normal bodily aches and pains, a person suffering from Hypochondriasis will perceive these normal pains as signs of impending doom, and might make multiple trips to doctors or hospitals to gain reassurance. Oftentimes, even when the sufferer is cleared by a doctor, their fears will persist and they will have to seek multiple opinions which never seem to be conclusive enough to quell the anxiety they feel. It is common for those suffering from this anxiety disorder to worry they may have AIDS, HIV, ALS, Lou Gehrigs disease, or other types of neurological or fatal conditions.


Common compulsions in Hypochondriasis

·       Excessive googling or time spent on WebMD looking at symptoms

·       Constant checking or touching of the parts of the body where the pain is perceived

·       Seeking reassurance from friends, doctors and family members

·       Ruminating on what you felt like before the pain started

·       Ruminating on what life could be like after your feared diagnosis

·       Hyper-vigilance towards any perceived change in body sensations or levels of fatigue


A difficult issue in hypochondriasis is that when we concentrate on a certain body part excessively, or touch or prod it repeatedly, we can actually create sensation there. The sufferer will see this as a sign that their symptoms are getting worse and can become quite anxious and distressed. Health anxiety can be co-morbid with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders. Hypochondriasis is highly treatable and can be addressed with a combination of Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT), Mindfulness and Acceptance practices, and Exposure and Response prevention (ERP). With the proper treatment strategy, the client will learn how to manage the intrusive thoughts (ex: “what if I have ALS?”) and will begin to slowly accept the presence of their unwanted emotions.




Depression and anxiety

I live simultaneously in the past and the future, so that is why I suffer from depression and anxiety. Always regrets about the past, always if only I hadn’t done this or I had done that. Always oh I wish I could go back there, I miss it. Contradictory thoughts, I know. But they seem to control me, not the other way around.

And fears about the future, what if this happens or that happens, what if this or that doesn’t happen? Oh my god what is going to happen? Fear in my heart, sometimes I just break down sobbing, wishing I didn’t exist.

This last year has been the worst as far as anxiety is concerned. I don’t know why. It could be hormones, my estrogen and progesterone leaves are quite low. We’re trying to get approval from my insurance company for an estrogen/progesterone patch. Let’s see if that helps.

I’m on Lamictal besides Lithium and Seroquel. In the distant past, Lamictal alone had thrown me into mania for all five years that I was on it. But this time I’m taking it with Lithium and it has not done that. In fact it’s improved my mood quite a bit! It was difficult and scary staring it again, but I’m glad I did.

So, I have a question for my readers: is it that you live in the past that you have depression, and you live in the future so you have anxiety?

Or is it your thoughts about the past that cause you to be depressed and your thoughts about the future that cause you to be anxious?

That is, what comes first? The thoughts or the depression and anxiety?

Kind of like a chicken and an egg question.

If the depression and anxiety come first then it might be an issue of medication primarily.

If the thoughts come first, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May have a big impact along with meds.

Let me know what you think.

Also why can’t I seem to live in the present moment, really that is all we have and peace is found here? Why does my mind take me to the land of regrets and fears instead of leaving me in peace on the shores of the present moment? Is that because of my illness, bipolar 1, or because of severe stress suffered in childhood? I don’t know. I just know I wish it was not the case and I could live in peace.