New to lithium and scared

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Art life
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/2/2016 1:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi

I have recently been started on lithium as the lamictogrine I was on no longer controlled the mood swings and I'm terrified. I have not been on it long enough to start noticing side effects and have been started on 400mg to be built up to 800mg over the next 2 weeks.

I have a huge issue with my weight which I have been working on with a dietician for the past few months and I am finally making some headway. I am scared that the lithium side effect of weight gain is going to put me back to square one and undo all of the hard work I have been putting in with regards to losing the weight.

I am also a paramedic and artist so am also worried about the tremors as this could severely impact both my career no one of my coping mechanisms.

My question essentially boils down to how bad are these side effects and can I relax a bit? And does anyone have any advice in dealing with them?

Tim Tam
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 798
   Posted 11/2/2016 4:32 PM (GMT -6)   
Art Life:

Welcome to the website.

It's good that you reached out for help.

I'm manic-depressive also and also take Lithium (700mg.). They tell me, and it seems to be true, it brings down mania and lifts to a certain degree depression.

Again, I find that it works very well. I've been on it about 25 years.

As an artist myself, I do some photography, I was worried that it would affect the creative process, but I don't find that to be true.

Actually, it helps the creative process because it keeps one functioning for a long time. Without the Lithium, we might be manic or depressed and couldn't create anything.

Van Gogh was a manic-depressive and one of the greatest painters who ever lived. But they didn't have Lithium back then, and so, while his creative process was very great, he was sick a lot of the time, which shortened his life span.

Sometimes, we don't have a whole lot of choice. We don't want to be all over the place because we don't want to gain a few pounds. We have to be practical.

I also take an anti-depressant for my depression (Mirtazapine 7.5 mg). Are you taking anything for depression?

What was your state before they put on Lithium? How long had you been like that? How had you been doing for the last several years or more? Do you have ancestors with that condition?

I didn't even know about the weight gain side effect. I did go up to just over 200 pounds, this was over 20 years ago, but I was housebound, and my brain told me to eat to make up for the lack of social stimulation.

I had been weighing about 160, and I was on Lithium all during that time, but most of the weight gain was couldn't get out of the house and no social stimulation.

When I saw I was just over 200 pounds, I was shocked, and set out to lose weight by not eating as much. Some days I'm now about 165. I try to walk everyday with my dog for exercise.

When I took my first Lithium, I felt like the air had been let out of an over-inflated balloon. I didn't know I had been that tense that long. I wish I had been diagnosed correctly and taken the medicine sooner.

I've had no tremors with Lithium.

Did you notice when you first took the Lithium that you got calmer? Did the previous medicine calm you down?

How long did it take you to get diagnosed bi-polar? Weight gain would be my least worry. I went from about 205 to 165 while I was on Lithium just by eating less.

Also I increased my exercise. That helps with weight, diabetes and sleep at night.

As overweight, do you have diabetes? That came with the weight gain. You don't want to get diabetes, one thing, you don't get rid of it. There may be a few cases, and I've heard of a few, but generally speaking, once you break through that barrier of too much food which can give diabetes, that's it. You don't get back.

The best thing is to avoid it.

What kind of artwork do you do?

And, hey, you're right: relax. Van Gough would have loved it.

Art life
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/2/2016 10:53 PM (GMT -6)   
They started treating me for depression 11 years ago. I was rediagnised 2 years ago as bipolar with PTSD. I was on anti depressants as well but they started to make the manic phases worse.

There is history of mental illness in my family. And none of the previous medication calmed me down. I was having terrible mood swings.

I don't have diabetes, other than the bipolar and PTSD I only have asthma, psoriasis and GERD.

I do most types of art but specialise in drawing painting and sculpting.
Art Life
BipolarI, PTSD, GERD, Asthma, Psoriasis, Chronic Fatigue.

"The point of art is to touch the hearts of strangers without the trouble of ever having to meet them" - Robert Montgommery

theHTreturns...
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 19308
   Posted 11/3/2016 12:38 AM (GMT -6)   
hi, it's all trial and error, lithium is hit or miss. albeit other medication can be incorporated to assist it. it is alike lamictal as it is a foundation med, more in the background. I would discuss your options, lithium levels can be checked for efficacy, keep a watch on lft. kind regards...
THE HAPPY TURTLE.

A QUOTE FROM THE HAPPY TURTLE THAT REFLECTS ME.

"COMPLEXITY IS MY WAY OF EXPRESSING MY NEEDS IN A MANNER THAT IS NEITHER DESTRUCTIVE, NOR NEGATIVE"
'

UserANONYMOUS
Forum Moderator


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 4315
   Posted 11/3/2016 6:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Art life,

Everyone has different experiences with meds. Not everyone experiences the same side effect. However, I would suggest you pay close attention to yourself while using the Lithium. Be sure to liaise with your doc if you start not feeling well or start experiencing any bad side effects.

I hope it will work for you.

UA
Moderator - Bipolar

Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder.
Chronic Pain - Cervical Kyphosis, Cervical Spondylosis, Thoracic Scoliosis.

jb365
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/22/2016 2:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been taking 300 mg of lithium for about 12 years. It immediately started to make me feel better. A stronger dose gives me tremors so I had to back off on that. I recently added Topamax (50 mg) and am hoping that that will give me some relief. I am bi-polar. The Topamax is to be increased over a period of time. I'm having some side effects but have read that they usually subside after 3 months or so and that most people have had good experiences and lost weight with Topamax. I'm hoping this is the case. I have experienced an incredible last two years, the lowest point I have ever been, trying and changing medications in the hope that some will give me relief. I pray to God every day to get me out of this hole. I have been bi-polar all of my life and led a good active life and then my meds quit working. I can't tell you how many meds I have tried. I'm not giving up, there's got to be the right one out there.

Tim Tam
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 798
   Posted 11/22/2016 4:10 PM (GMT -6)   
Art life:

How is the Lithium going?

You had just started with that and were going to build up to 800 mg. Have you built up to that?

You were worried about the weight gain with the Lithium. Is that going OK?

Tim Tam
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 798
   Posted 11/22/2016 4:21 PM (GMT -6)   
jb 365:

You said your Lithium quit working after 12 years.

And that without it you have been in a rough situation as a manic-depressive.

I imagine that would be kinda tough.

I was without medicine for a few months, I'll guess, because of a mix up with a new doctor, so I have an idea of what that is.

I guess you're looking for something to replace the Lithium for the manic-depression, and then maybe something extra for the depression?

How is that going? You haven't mentioned sleep problems, but I take a health food store supplement for that. Are you sleeping OK?

Post Edited (Tim Tam) : 11/22/2016 3:24:19 PM (GMT-7)


UserANONYMOUS
Forum Moderator


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 4315
   Posted 11/23/2016 7:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi jb365,

Welcome to the forum :-)

Thanks for sharing. It's good that you were able to identify how the increase made you feel. We ahve to carefully monitor ourselves when using meds as they work differently for everyone.

I am glad to hear that you are not giving up. Hang in there. Things will get better in the right timing.

UA
Moderator - Bipolar

Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder.
Chronic Pain - Cervical Kyphosis, Cervical Spondylosis, Thoracic Scoliosis.

jb365
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/23/2016 2:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Actually, I am still taking the lithium 300 mg. She has added the Topamax to it. I have only been on the Topamax a week and have had no relief. I know the dose is still low 50 mg and the time has been short but I called my doctor this morning and asked her to call in a prescription of cymbolta. I was on that many years ago and it worked wonders for me for many years. Then it just pooped out. I'm hoping the combination will work. I read on some of these forums that several people had success with this combination. These forums are worth their weight in gold and you people are amazing...God bless you. By the way...in the one week on Topamax I have lost 6 lbs. I will increase to 100 mg next week. Keeping my fingers crossed. Happy Holidays my friends.

Tim Tam
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 798
   Posted 11/25/2016 7:01 PM (GMT -6)   
jb365:

Yu said, "Actually, I am still taking the lithium 300 mg"

That's a relief right there.

You said,

"These forums are worth their weight in gold and you people are amazing...God bless you. By the way...in the one week on Topamax I have lost 6 lbs. I will increase to 100 mg next week. Keeping my fingers crossed. Happy Holidays my friends."

I can tell you right there, your Lithium is working. Oh, happy day, my friend.

So now we're worried about the Topamax. Now at 50 mg., going to 100 mg. next week. Sounds like we're on the glide path to that one working.

Thank you! And, oh, Happy Holidays.

Let us know how the Topamax is working.

jb365
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/27/2016 12:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Increased to 100 mg the last two days of Topamax. Extremely tired. Sleeping over 12 hours. Feeling sad. Have a prescription of cymbolta at the drug store to pick up and will add to see how that will work. I'm new to all this other than the lithium so I realize I have to give it time. I did take Cymbolta by itself many years ago by itself and it worked for years and then just quit working. Maybe with the Topamax it will help again. I've heard up to three months. It's just never ending. I've been on so many meds over the years. They work and then they quit, or they don't work at all. For the last two years I can't find one to work. With some of the reviews I've read this one sounds encouraging. I'm going to try and keep upbeat over the next three months and just go with the flow. Thanks for your kind words Tim.

Tim Tam
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 798
   Posted 11/27/2016 6:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry to hear about the Topamax causing you to be tired. Maybe it will lessen in the next few days.

So you're going to pick up the Cymbolta? Let's hope it keeps working this time. Is that an anti-depressant?

What's the one you can't find to work, an anti-depressant?

I take Mirtazapine (Remeron) anti-depressant, and it seems to work OK. Have you ever taken that one? I took Serequell anti-depressant for a week or two, but it speeded me up so much I couldn't stand still.

Trying to stay positive is a big help.

I was going to suggest you do volunteer work, but then I saw where you're a paramedic, so I think you help enough people as it is.

What do you as a paramedic? Do you ride in an ambulance?

What kind of painting do you do? And what about the sculpting? And the drawing?

As I mentioned, I like photography. I enjoy taking informal outdoor portraits. I use a 135mm telephoto lens and it works great. It lets me stand back from the subject, crop out unwanted things, and blurs the background, making the subject stand out.

With a 135m telephoto lens, I could fall down and get a good picture, it's that good. It does all the work.
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