If deep depression is a closet, I’m on my way to coming out of it. It’s amazing how being bipolar means everything is potentially hazardous to your mental health and well being. I started a birth control almost two months ago and stopped it shortly after. It derailed my mental state like a train off the tracks. All too frustrating considering the havoc caused by monthly hormonal fluctuations, and the fact that I have endometriosis. Something that has always been very difficult for me is the medication side of treating my bipolar. Up until after I graduated high school, I had been on every antidepressant under the sun. You name it, I tried it. It wasn’t until my hospital stay that I was put on a mood stabilizer, Abilify. Weighing the pros and cons of medication is near impossible at times. Last October, I stopped the Abilify. I am EXTREMELY sensitive to medication and I always have been. Medication changes, even by a few milligrams, are enough to turn my world completely upside down. Lowering the dose and coming down off of the Abilify was hellish at best. By the time I was off of it I had worked up to 200mlg of Lamictal, in addition to the 100mlg of Zoloft that I have been on for almost 4 years. The reasons I stopped the Abilify were 1) I had almost doubled my weight since starting it 2) I experienced a somewhat uncommon side effect of weakening of the immune system 3) my hair was falling out and 4) the positive side effects were waning. In this situation, for me, the cons clearly outweighed the pros. Within the last 2 months, I have began 300mlg of Lithium. I started the Lithium to counteract and more aggressively combat the intense depressive episode triggered by the birth control. I was in such a dark place that my psychiatrist called a colleague at one of the large hospitals in the area to give him a heads up that I may come in for a suicide watch and that I am his patient.
Slowly but surely the storm is passing. I am just now picking back up from the birth control. It’s hard to keep taking steps forward when you feel like you are thrown back every few steps. When the dust finally settles after something like this, be it from a new addition to my meds or the change of dosage, it’s hard to decide whether to keep trying for improvement or settle for where I am. For me, when I feel “level” it always seems that there is a lot of room for improvement. But the question is, will the next change actually have a happy ending. Most of the time the answer is no, but I seem to keep finding that pesky hope thing. Hope is what gives me strength and the fuel to keep trying. However, for now I am sticking with where I’m at. I don’t think I am to the plateau yet, so we will have to see where things go. Sometimes it’s important to give your mind and body a break, even if you are not quite where you want to be or think you could be.
A piece of advice from an unintentional psych med connoisseur: stay off of the psych forums. While it is important to educate yourself on what you are putting into your body to alter your brain chemistry, no two bodies are the same. No one has the same brain chemistry. We all have varying levels of symptoms as well as a hierarchy of importance when it comes to suppressing symptoms. I’m very active outdoors, so not gaining weight that I can’t keep off with exercise is important to me. My rapid cycling and depression are the most important to me when it comes to treatment. Those things may not be true for you. It may sound silly, but I strongly believe in the placebo effect that negative reviews can have on your ability to do well on a medication. Having experienced it myself, I stay off of the forums.
On a final note, now that I feel I’m thinking clearly and normally, I realized that I need to learn to better combat the lack of interest that depression brings on. For almost two months now, nothing has felt worth doing. I have not wanted to get out of bed. The things I enjoy most have sounded and felt like a hassle or work. It’s very easy to give into those feelings. I think that if I had kept myself busy and tried to express myself a little on here, I may have started feeling better a bit sooner. So, if you’re going through a bout of depression or on a depressive cycle of your own, force yourself to get up and do something to engage your mind in something positive.