I'm Bipolar. Now what?

I’m bipolar II and have been on virtually every med out there. The anti-convulsants, acting in the capacity as mood stabilizers, are the first line of treatment. Lithium is absolute last resort and is typically used for Bipolar I which differs from Bipolar II in that the up periods are manic rather than hypomanic. The majority of medicated bipolars are probably on Depakote, but Lamictal is easily the best drug. With Depakote, you’ll lose a good deal of hair, gain weight, and will have to have your blood level checked every now and then to make sure the blood levels are in a therapeutic range. Lamictal has virtually no side effects, and seems to put in a higher bottom on the downswing. It is superior in virtually every way. The only caveat is that you may be one of the .2% that develops a serious rash as a symptom of Stevens-Johnsons syndrome, which can be fatal if allowed to continue. Bottom line is you titrate the dose upwards and if a rash appears you stop.

Many doctors don’t prescribe SSRI’s for a Bipolar patient as it can trigger manic/hypomanic episodes. If the Lamictal isn’t helping the downside enough, I think it’s worth it to try an SSRI, or Wellbutrin, because in many cases, they won’t trigger such episodes. I’m on Lamictal, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin and have been doing great.

See a psychopharmacologist. If they don’t prescribe Lamictal over Depakote, ask them why. If they cite the rash as the reason, ask them about titrating the dose.
If they still disagree, it’s probably because they aren’t clinically familiar with Lamictal. Go find another P-Pharm. I’ve received many a thanks over the years telling people to switch from Depakote to Lamictal.

Any questions, let me know.

Hmm, I was on depakote for a while and didn’t experience weight gain or hair loss. I’m not saying that nobody will have those side effects. I’m just saying that not everybody will.

Slightly off-topic, but should I feel wary seeing as Paxil is recommended for adults 18+, and I was put on it at about 11 or 12?

Anyway, about meds, keep to them. Don’t let people tell you not to take them, or that you need to learn to cope without them. That is bull - you have a chemical imbalance, and it has nothing to do with your disposition and stuff.

kicks next family member who yells at her for being on so many meds

Hey duffer I just wanted to say good luck with getting it sorted out and I wish you well.

kushiel most drugs are not tested on kids because it costs too much to run the trials. Strattera was tested on kids and it’s reflected in the price. So a lot of meds are listed for people over 18 but doctors use them with kids anyway.

Most of the bad press about SSRIs (and now risperidone) has come out in the last couple of years. My kid went on zoloft 4 years ago when he was 7. I’m not sure that I would do that if I were making that choice now given all the new info on kids and SSRIs. I’m blanking on whether paxil is an SSRI – I think it’s called something else over here.

And sometimes with paediatric meds and psychiatric needs, you’re choosing between unknown crappy side effects and known living hell. Meds are tested on adults and when you use them with kids, it’s pretty much a crapshoot. It’s pretty hellish when new research comes out and you realise as a parent that the drug/s you’ve been using are riskier than you or your paed knew. My kid’s on risperidone and I’ve got to evaluate and decide whether or not to keep on with it.

I don’t know if this ramble makes any sense. Entirely too little sleep last night and waiting for the psych unit to call to see if we get a bed today for M.

kushiel, I wasn’t saying that everyone should be drug free, I’m saying that there is a choice. I was forced to take medication, by the US state of Idaho.

What I am saying is that if you choose to take medication, make sure you know what your taking, and why. There are a lot of things that drug companies won’t say.

There is no medical proof that ANYONE has a chemical imbalance. There is NO medical test, including autopsy, to prove one way or another if someone has Bi-Polar. The chemical imbalance is a theory. Of course, not too long ago it was thought to be caused by demons and witches, so watch out for theories.

I’ve been out of town since Tuesday for work, I’m sorry it’s taken so long to post back.

First. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for all the encouragement and information on this. My head is swimming with everything I’ll have to go back through in previous posts. :eek:

A few more things I left out of the OP but was reminded of in other posts.

  1. I learned years ago never to take only one doctor’s opinion on anything related to mental health.When I was about 8 or 9 my parent’s wanted me to see a Psych for therapy for my behavior during my parent’s divorce. A few years after that a social worker wanted me treated with talk therapy and possibly admitted to a psych center. (I did voluntalrily for 2 weeks until I learned I was just being a dick. Thier diagnosis) In college I sought help and was given Xanax for anxiety/panic attacks. Did nothing but get me stoned. In 1996 I was given Zoloft. I took ir for 4 months and had no change. Taken off that. After 6 years, I was again crawling out of my skin and taken in to see the doc by my sister. He gave me Paxil. The only thing it did was destroy my libido. I was married 3 months at the time and had no interest in sex for the next 6 months. And, again, it didn’t do anything for my mood swings. The next year I sought help again only to be given Lexipro. After 5 months, nothing. Taken off that. Now, keep in mind, by '01 I was suspecting M/D, but nobody would listen. They all thought it was depression or anxiety. So I gave up. Untill now.

  2. Now I’m taking this shit seriously. Something has to change or I won’t see 35. I’m working with a pHD Clinical Psychologist, a Pshyshiatrist, and my family GP. If those three can’t figure it out, I’m really screwed. Since my teens I’ve somehow formed “coping mechanisms” (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) to try to be like other people. I’m too tired to do that anymore. I just want a week where I act like other people. Get up for work, go to work, pay my bills on time, get the lawn mowed before it’s a field, etc,etc.

I’ve forgotten the other points I was going to make. Suffice it to say, I am taking this seriously, and I really appreciate the links and stories given here. To anyone offering to accept my emails on this, a heartfelt sigh of relief. I may just take you up on it. :slight_smile:

Oh, one thing I did mean to mention was that I know mental disorders can’t be fixed, and drugs aren’t always the best way to go. Trust me, I’d rather it turn out that I’m just a lazy, incompetent bastard that doesn’t take well to responsibility. It would save me the stigma of being somehow "mentally ill’.

But if there is a chemical compound that doesn’t turn me into a newt and helps get my head right so I can function like everyone else, well, sign me up. I don’t plan on taking some magic pill and leave it at that. I’ll do the therapy as well, which was already suggested by the “first line” doc. And any side effects would take a back seat to a bullet to the head anyway.

That said, I do appreciate the candid way you told me your ordeal KillerKatt.
Good luck to you and yours.