BP Meds vs. Creativity. I'm scared!

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Armandless
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/8/2005 10:30 AM (GMT -7)   
(Note: I'll get to my question at the end of this, but I sorta wanted to describe how I got here to this diagnosis first)

I just got diagnosed with BP1. I'm not happy about it. I'll be relieved and happy if the meds work, but the stigma of being BP is not one I am even remotely interested in living with and having to "disclose" to future relationship prospects, etc. I had previously been diagnosed ADHD and was on Ritalin and actually had some good results from it. I sure got a LOT more accomplished on Ritalin than I have ever gotten accomplished before. But in the past few years, I've also had these paralyzing lows coupled with the jumps way back up. During the upswings I was motivated and creative and doing well, but then as I'd peak, I'd start to fall back down again and all productivity would stop and I'd find myself back into those paralyzing lows again. Life (sometimes days, even HOURS) would be a roller coaster ride.

I sought out therapy, and then got referred for a psychiatric evaluation. She said she couldn't get a proper "read" on me on the ritalin so asked that I come back off of it for a follow up. After that appt, she diagnosed BP1. She said there also might be ADHD there, but that some schools of thought say that ADHD and BP might actually be the same diagnosis and not two separate things.

She put me on Lamictal, which I started 4 days ago. After reading the last couple of hours about side effects and seeing pictures of the rashes that it can cause and something with some name I can't remember that causes these massive sores (Yuck!), I'm a little worried about these side effects showing up. Although to be honest, I'm incredibly tolerant to meds, and usually don't get the side effects a lot of people say you'll get. I had ZERO side effects with Ritalin. Although I did have the sexual side effects from Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft when I took them about 10 years ago (and were SO annoying that I gave up on anti-depressants). So I guess it's a wait and see with the Lamictal.

Ok - so the question. My career is DEPENDENT upon my creativity. My privacy is incredibly important to me, so I won't go into details, but I'm sort of well known in the entertainment industry and I'm SO afraid of medications and that this BP diagnosis (and treatment) will KILL my creativity and my passion for my craft. I am finding that as time goes by, the ups and downs are making it more and more difficult to accomplish anything and especially to FINISH anything I start, which is why I sought out help and treatment. But after reading about this BP thing and historically the figures in art, music and writing that researchers have now diagnosed with BP, my question is - would we have HAD a Van Gogh if he were medicated? Would we have had a Mozart, a Beethoven, a Hemingway?? Am I killing my future, my career and my legacy by going onto medication?

I mean, I KNOW I need to be stablized and that I have got to get onto a consistently even keel, but at what cost? I pray that in the end, I find myself able to explore all of my creative outlets in a far more balanced way and that it allows me to accomplish even more than I have already accomplished. I'm about the most ambitious person that I know, and that's saying a lot in Hollywood - but these paralyzing lows in the past few years have turned me into this freaking lazy bum, which I cannot tolerate.

I'd love some feedback and input. Thanks everyone. Sorry for writing so much. Guess that's part of this "mania" side that they talk about.

psychnurse
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 11/8/2005 11:30 AM (GMT -7)   

That's the eternal question.  Although there have been no studies to link BP and creativity, we all know that it is.  Mania gives you "flight of ideas", well, that is creativity of some sort, not always artistic, sometimes business, whatever, but yes they're linked IMO.

You're talking about leaden paralysis, otherwise known as bipolar depression.  Nice isn't it.  Talk about no creativity!

I am NOT endorsing mania.   While it can enhance your career in the industry in some ways,  it can ruin your life in the process.  I'm type I, too, and it's the worst!  It gets worse with age, you may or may not have noticed that yet, I don't know how hold you are. I'm 41 and have seen it progress to horrifying depths over the last 5 years.  (only been medicating seriously for 1.5 yrs). 

I'll give you my example of the creativity thing.  I was always artistic, a painter, a musician and a cook.  I went for a period starting meds that made me crash, but I was psychotic and had to be brought down, fast.  I lost my interest in everything for about 2 months, but it gradually returned.  I find now that I'm stable the work that I do artistically is much better, I'm actually funnier, everything is much much better.  I have more patience to get it just perfect.   If you've never been stable, you don't know what you're missing!  Normal people do not  feel slow, although you may feel like you're in slow motion while you get adjusted to your meds, you will lose the irritability and the anger, the constant mood swings all day long, the split personality.  You will find out who you really are, because the ugly person will be gone.  

One thing:  You may feel like **** while adjusting to meds.  That is the sole reason most BPs don't like to medicate.  It's becuase of the temporary feeling that isn't so pleasant before you get stable.  You don't just take some pills and it's all better.  I wish it were that easy!!!!!!!  Just perservere.  Get through it and don't give up.  It's temporary!

After you're stable you will still have mood swings.  They won't be devastating and/or debilitating, tho.   They are tolerable and usually only bothersome in spring and fall. 

If you're truly type I, Lamictal by itself isn't going to do it for you more than likely.   It has not been approved to stop mania, only to control it after it has been stabilized.  The average number of meds BPs are on is 4.5, a cocktail is a must.  There are too many facets to BP than just mania.  Depression, anxiety, psychosis (in type I only) all require different medications, it's a trial and error thing, you add as necessary and change if a particular one doesn't work for you.  They don't always affect or work the same in different people, some work, some don't; some meds have side effects you can tolerate, some you can't.  It can take some time, but I imagine you have a wonderful doctor there who will work with you to get it done quickly. 

It is best to medicate, you WILL feel better and your work will be better once you get stabilized (no mania AND no depression).  If this isn't the case, then you aren't on the right med combination, but it will take some time.   Lamictal is an excellent choice for BP depression, it's a stabilizer, yes, but it works mainly on preventing the lows, the other stabilizers do a better job of preventing highs in type I usually.  Lam saved my life last year.  It takes a while because you have to accumulate slowly.  Don't worry about the rash, it's extremely rare so just call the doc if you start getting a rash, it's called Stevens Johnson's Syndrome and IF it happens it will happen when you begin it.

I hope this helps and if there is anything else I can do or answer for you, please ask.

 


Bipolar disorder in one word:  Intensity


psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 11/8/2005 11:38 AM (GMT -7)   

Oh, and about having to tell future relationship prospects about it - well, most people either don't know what it is, or think it's just BAD depression, haha!   If there is someone you're interested in that you need to tell, ask them to do a little reading up or ask you to describe it (although that would take the whole night! eyes ).  If they dont stick around, then think about it:  they either judge or can't handle it, or dont' believe in it.  There are PLENTY of people who think it's BS.  Better you know before things get serious, right?  You need someone who wants to be with YOU, regardless of your shortcomings, it's not your fault, you're trying to do something about it, and IMO people who judge me because of it are only trying to make themselves feel superior.  They're ignorant instead.

OH, and about rambling?  I am the queen of rambling!!!!!!  We all do it!

Shannon :-)


Bipolar disorder in one word:  Intensity


Armandless
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/8/2005 9:37 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you SO much! Your words are very comforting to me and very eye opening as well. I've been fighting this diagnosis tooth and nail, denying it at every turn. But now that the doctor has finalized her opinion and said "yes, this is what you have" and I've been giving the meds, I've been reading a bit about it all and it's pretty clear this is why I've been suffering and struggling. It's going to take me some time to get myself wrapped around the whole BP world and cocktail med's and all of the idenfiers that everyone with BP seems to have for themselves and others. I just want to be me - not a named diagnosis and I don't want it to define my life. But hopefully I'm on the road to defining my life the way I WANT to and not that way the pendulum swings.

Glad you mentioned the leaden paralysis. Everyone has been telling me to just pull up the boot straps and push myself and it's like I WANT to, but I just can't. It's been perplexing to me and confusing and I've started isolating myself a lot in the past year or so because I didn't want people's advice about how to "get going" and didn't want to admit how badly I was feeling. And yes, as you get older, I see how it gets worse. My mother's first comment after the diagnosis was "but you were always the most HAPPY child". And I WAS. But there were periods of darkness that maybe nobody knew about because I was pretty functional. Then the ADHD diagnosis came along and everyone said "Oh THAT explains a LOT!" and it explained a lot to me as well. And I was ok for the most part on the Ritalin. But these peaks and valleys kept coming on and getting worse and worse....and the last year has been probably the worst yet. No matter where I live, it becomes like a dungeon to me (during the lows) or a den of anxiety (during the highs) because I can't get as much accomplished as I want to.

But the weirdest part of all of this is that I'm now "one of them". Those people who tell their stories on Oprah and on the news shows and in articles about how BP almost destroyed their lives. Suddenly, I've been forced to join a club I didn't want to be a part of. But every day gets a little easier and I hope to one day hold that "club membership" with honor and pride.

I'm on Day 4 of the meds. So far, so good. A few mild headaches and moments here and there where I feel those flu-like symptoms the doctor warned me about. I pray the rashes don't come - but I'll deal with it if they do. Barrel through is my motto.

Thanks again for your input!

psychnurse
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 11/8/2005 9:45 PM (GMT -7)   

I'm glad I could help - I went through all what you're talking about myself, we all do it's like an initiation into the "club" lol.

You should read the thread a few down called "if i had the choice would i.... would you?"  It's about would you change being bipolar if you could.  You would probably be surprised some of us say we would rather be BP, including me.  That's after you get better and understand the GOOD things, it's not all bad!  There are a lot of points that a couple of us bring up there that will make you even feel better, and much has to do with feeling and creating. 

I'm glad so far so good with the Lamictal, it's a very good medicine, I love it!


Bipolar disorder in one word:  Intensity


Armandless
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/10/2005 11:17 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm actually already feeling better - a LOT more stabilized and it's only Day 6 of the meds. I met with my therapist and he said it's quite possible to start feeling better early on, even though I'm not even at full dosage yet. I don't know if it's just my wanting to feel better or the fact that I'm stabilizing. There's still some moments of melancholy and anxiety, but I've at least gotten things done the past few days that I hadn't been good about before the meds.

As far as side effects - the flu like symptoms have been fairly minimal - here and there, but nothing to slow me down. As a matter of fact, it was kind of cool to feel the flu-ish symptoms and NOT have to slow down and rest because I knew it WASN'T the flu and just the expected side effects. BUT, and I don't know if it's related at all - I started suffering today from a painful constipation. That's VERY rare for me, so I'm guessing it's maybe meds. I can't think of anything in particular that I'm eating differently. My previous eating patterns have been SO eratic, I'm lucky to be healthy! But constipation is not something I've really dealt with much. it got so bad today that I couldn't exercise and spent a good portion of the day on the couch. I went and bought Citrucel hoping that would help. Took two doses of it so far today. I hope it helps - I don't want to feel great emotionally just to be stuck on the couch with painful constipation. Anyone have this problem?

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 11/11/2005 5:51 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Armandless,

Glad to see you back and I'm soooo glad you're feeling better!  And no rash, lol.    I had the flu symptoms, too on Abilify, fever and everything; they went away after a day.

The constipation is a part of many anticonvulsant meds, (epilepsy meds) which are used as mood stabilizers for us.  I have a pretty bad problem with it that Citrucel and high fiber diet didn't  touch, so my Internist gave me Sorbitol, its a syrup you take daily and it works in about 2 hours, great stuff and really really cheap lol!  Not a stimulant laxative, don't worry; you should ask your doc about it. 

 


Bipolar disorder in one word:  Intensity


Arenace
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 249
   Posted 11/11/2005 6:50 AM (GMT -7)   
Oh Armandless, believe me, most of us have constipation. It just comes with the meds!! LOL

As far as your creativity goes, believe me, you will be sharper, funnier, and more creative the more stable you get. It's like a dream come true.

I'm sorry, I seem to be the queen of short posts!!

Good Luck,

Sandra

BP brings new meaning to Life's Little Ups and Downs


*Sarah
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 11/12/2005 10:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Just wanted to respond to your post.  I want you to read my post which will be up shortly because I am new to this site, and maybe it will help with your worries about changes in your lifestyle.  But don't worry, it IS for the best, even though it takes time.   I wanted to respond quickly to you however, because I completely understand and can relate with your worries about creativity.  Everyone who I know or have spoken with about bipolar understands that the manic episodes can be/feel very rewarding.  And when they are gone, yes, it is like a piece of what you had been is missing.  However, without noticing, one day, you will begin to feel stronger.  You will not have to RELY on the mania to accomplish tasks, finish all of your errands, or stay creative.  Your own personality, knowledge, gifts, and talents will ALWAYS be available to you.  It can be frustrating on the way while you find the appropriate medication that fits you.  I have found that Trileptal 300 mg- twice daily is perfect for me.  It is a beautiful thing to come to know the part of you which was always there.  It will no longer be hidden.  Love yourself and the life that you are about to find.  Good luck!  *Sarah     

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 11/12/2005 11:27 AM (GMT -7)   
What a beautiful post, Sarah and how very true.  It IS like losing the self you've always been (not a bad thing!!!) and finding the person who was always there but you didn't know. 
 
I think it IS important that all BPs know there is a time of possible unpleasantness and uncertainty about yourself on the way, you don't just take meds and become stable.  I am glad you are another testament to the fact that being stable does not mean less creative.  
 
Thanks for your post!
Bipolar disorder in one word:  Intensity


ClaudiusI
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 6/29/2010 1:01 AM (GMT -7)   
This was a while ago but I am wondering if you still check the site.
I am really curious to hear how this whole thing went for you with the Lamictal and if you still take it and if you managed to find your creativity on it or not. I'm going through the exact same thing after 1.5 years on Lamictal / Wellbutrin Combo and haven't been able to write a thing. My career and life depends on it. Hopefully you get this. Thanks.

tortoise11
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2896
   Posted 6/29/2010 5:47 AM (GMT -7)   

Claudius,

Perhaps this is something to discuss with your Dr.  I was on Lamictal and my creativity was a little down.  (Porbably a good thing!  lol).  If you check out my "stupid experiment" thread, you'll see that I reduced and then discontinued lamictal, using diet and self-care to keep myself stable.  (It works as long as I can stick to the diet!)

When I began reducing the dose of Lamictal, my creativity started back.  What I would talk to your Dr. about is finding a lower dose that keeps you stable (with self-care) and still allows some creativity so that you can work.

Best of luck to you.


Bipolar 2
Borderline Personality Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Panic Disorder


ClaudiusI
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 6/30/2010 3:01 AM (GMT -7)   
Doctor has agreed to let me lower the dose. So I am doing 25 mg less every two weeks ... is that too soon?
I spoke to a Dr yesterday who seemed to think that the chance of me having a seixure ( even though I have never had one and am not epileptic) is almost a given when coming off of this drug. Is this true?

tortoise11
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2896
   Posted 6/30/2010 5:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Having a seizure coming off of Lamictal is a real concern, but not a given. I came down a little faster than that, but cautiously. Some people have very strong reactions to reducing a dose of Lamictal and some people apparently are never able to ger completely off of it.

I did have discomfort, dizziness, bad orthostatic hypotension on the days I lowered my dose by 25 mg. It cleared up withint the day, so it wasn't nearly as severe as I had worried.

I'm glad you have your Dr.'s support on this. Take care of yourself!
Bipolar 2
Borderline Personality Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Panic Disorder


Voix
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 218
   Posted 6/30/2010 11:18 AM (GMT -7)   
I haven't read any of the other replies so I hope I am not repeating something anyone else has said (also this is an old old post so i'm answering the question for anyone who still needs an answer) but the goal of medication is to keep you stable AND keep you more like yourself than you are when your moods are getting in the way of the real you. They should never dull your creativity and you should consider your diagnosis of bipolar as a way of telling you how creative and special you really are. There have been many famous, highly intelligent and creative persons with bipolar and they all lived with it just like you do and it helped make them shine.

As for the ritalin part, I was put on ADHD meds in high school as well (vyvanse) because my depression left me so unmotivated that I couldn't get anything done. While they treated the unmotivation and helped me do my school work, they didn't cure any of my real bipolar symptoms.

Lamictal is prescribed to be increased in very small doses to protect you against the risk of a rash so you should worry more about getting well than about getting a rash. if you do have signs of the rash you should get yourself to a doctor immediately but until that happens worrying about it is not your main priority!

Of course you can choose who you tell about your bipolar. you don't need to disclose it immediately on a first date, it isn't contagious like herpes or anything and unless the relationship goes somewhere you don't need to put it out on the table right away.

sorry, this is an unorganized mouthful. i hope it helps anyways!
"crazy" french girl with bipolar II

Post Edited (voix) : 6/30/2010 12:40:44 PM (GMT-6)


havana
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 127
   Posted 6/30/2010 3:28 PM (GMT -7)   
I think you write about something that's near and dear to a lot of us. I'm a creative person, and currently, I'm not feeling a tad of creativity. I simply can't do my art. I've been in a very bad depression for about two months now. My psychiatrist is trying a new (at least, new to me) med on me, and I'm hoping it will help. What I'm thinking is that meds do not rob us of our creativity. It is our depression that does. The meds are the good thing; the illness is the lousy thing. So, don't be afraid of the meds. I think they'll put you on the right path, once you find the right ones.
 
Best of luck to you. I only hope I get my creativity back soon!
 
Best wishes to you,
Havana, a newbie to this list

spiritsong
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/26/2011 5:20 PM (GMT -7)   
The music has faded...

I'm new to this thread and am just wondering if the girl, Armandless, who posted the original thread is still on this site? I found this thread through a google search I did about losing my creativity by going on Bipolar meds and when I read her post, I felt as though it was a God send. To be honest, when I was first diagnosed, the more I read these Bipolar chats, the more discouraged I became. It just didn't feel like a place to come for solutions and hope. I, too, am in the entertainment world, relying on my creativity for my existence. Even before being diagnosed, I knew what I was. I have known I was different since I was a child but had learned coping skills to deal with and mask my secret. Those who knew me well soaked up my magic while it was there knowing that I would at some point go into, as I called it, hibernation. Phones would go unanswered, I would sleep in my closet, bills go unpaid, life would shut down. Until... I'm not sure until... I guess life just turned back on. And I would hear the music again. The good thing now? I am stable. I have found a medication cocktail that seems to work and I have not had a debilitating crash for sometime now. The bad news? I no longer hear the music. I used to write at least a song a week. I would just hear the melodies, lyric ideas would stop me in my tracks and I would be compelled to write. I carried my voice recorder, pad and pen wherever I went so as never to lose the inspiration when it came... and it never stopped coming. But it has stopped. I haven't written a single song for over a year and a half. I don't play the piano anymore, I don't pick up my guitar, and I rarely journal. And as far as the psyche nurse who said there has been no research linking bipolar and creativity... are you kidding me? There's a ton of research on it! In fact, one of the biggest controversies in the field of science and psychology is that in the near future through prenatal genetic testing, we are able to detect and eliminate the gene that predisposes children to bipolar, as a society, we may lose the associated gifts that people with bipolar have historically enriched us with.
Check out this article for starters...
http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/the-link-between-bipolar-disorder-and-creativity/

Anyway,
I'm just curious if any of you creatives out there have had the same experience, have any solutions, or suggestions. I love the stability but miss the music in my soul.
Thanks,
Spiritsong

forgottensong
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/22/2011 9:58 AM (GMT -7)   
I stumbled across this thread though a Google search, as well. I completely understand the previous post. It's almost describing me to a "T".

I have been stable for 6+ years on Lamictal, but I feel like my creativity is just gone. I do like the stability (and so does my family), but I'm really missing those moments when I just had to stop everything and write down the song. It's like I've forgotten how. I hate that. I've been back to playing music again for almost 4 years, but the original songs are just not there anymore.

For the most part the hibernation is gone for me (except in times of great stress) and I have as normal a life as is possible with BP1. I've got to admit that like most of us "club members" I don't fit into the "normal" mold very well or even willingly. That said, I'm afraid to mess with the balance by asking for a med change.

Tough choice, stability or creativity.

I keep trying to dig down deep and find that piece of me that's hiding behind the meds. Still grasping...

red lightening
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 620
   Posted 3/22/2011 10:51 AM (GMT -7)   
I have been through the exact same thing as the rest of you. If bipolar doesn't exist how can we all experience the same thing? I am an artist and did very well for awhile. I was stable on meds and not drinking any beer. Then we moved across the country and I decided to disbelieve in bipolar at all. I tried all the natural remedies such as Reiki, yoga, meditation, foods, vitamins, exercise, nature, spirituality...and they didn't work. I ended up self-medicating and wound up in the hospital.

I have had a tremendously hard time accepting I had bipolar. I was raised in a family where you never quit but you pushed on no matter how hard it got. I have always felt like I didnt measure up.

I too was diagnosed as ADD and put on adderall dr. Said if adderall speeded you up you weren't add but bipolar. I was so speeded up I had to get drunk to come down...again I was a mess and off my meds.

I have finally come to accept that bp is real and dawgonnit I have it. My creativity will come back after I get through this fowl mood change. It has before.

Post Edited (red lightening) : 3/22/2011 11:54:55 AM (GMT-6)

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