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Taking Lithium

  • Mania
  • Personality disorder
  • Lithium
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Listen to the interview: Taking Litium

It’s like living in a goldfish bowl, and you have no idea you’re there until it gets taken away.

You can see everything, you can hear everything and everyone can see and hear you, but there’s a difference. You suddenly don’t feel as much. The highs and lows seem to even out, the world isn’t quite so scary. You have protection, a barrier.

I never wanted to rely on medication. There was a certain pride in the idea that I could ‘do it myself’, but as my mood began to swing more rapidly and my life crumbled a bit more and a bit more I began to realise I needed a little extra support. That actually ‘stubborn mindedness’ may not really be the solution right now.

Several types and combinations led me to being placed on lithium. An interesting drug and one that I never really appreciated until after I stopped it. Looking back I can’t deny that over a period of time, the most stable I became was when taking that particular medication. My mood, which was swinging rather violently at the time, became more manageable, and the scarily fast pace of life I seemed to be living, did appear to slow down. As far as I was aware I felt ‘normal’ it was only when I stopped it did I realise I beginning to ‘feel’ again, and the emotions swept back with the familiar intensity.

Medication, or lithium mainly, certainly didn’t cure me. It gave me stability. It gave me the experience of not feeling the intense pain, or the exuberant joy. At the time I was grateful, it can be exhausting living life on the edge, but in the long term and having had time off it, I realised that I missed the feelings.

I wasn’t bothered by the monthly blood test, or the repeated health risks that I found when googling it, that was part of the drug merry-go round I was becoming familiar with. Just for me I realised I didn’t crave protection through a screen; I needed to, at some point, build my own protection. A fact I would probably not have realised if I hadn’t had to stop taking it.

I’ve used medication since, as opportunity to rest and have a break, but my long-term solution came from learning to manage my feelings, and deal with my reactions to situations and emotions. On a journey out of a very black hole medication, including and particularly lithium, has provided some much needed foot holes, it’s just other stuff has, longer term, helped me not to slip back down.

Listen to the interview: Taking Litium