Coming off Lithium?

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GMoss
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/23/2007 5:43 PM (GMT -6)   
I am 51 years of age and have been diagnosed as manic depressive. I have been on lithium for the past 20 years. I have been taking 1000mg of lithium during this time. As a teacher of 12 years and without any absence from work.  I am renowned for my forgetfullness. I am certainly not as sharp as I should be. In the past year I have reduced the nightly dose to 800mg hoping to increase my mental abilities. What are the alternatives to lithium and are they successful?
 
Regards KD

olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 6/24/2007 5:25 PM (GMT -6)   
GMoss,

First I would like to welcome you to the HealingWell family. I am sure you will find others who are going through what you are going through and that you can relate to you.

I on the other hand am taking Lithium, for a little over a year now. I wish I could be more help, but I can't.

Best wishes on your journey, and please keep up updated.

~~~ Olivia  ~~~
Moderator, Bipolar

"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"
"The moon if always full, think about it."
Dx:  Bipolar I (mixed-episodes), PTSD, Anxiety/Panic Disorder 
Current Meds:  Lithium 900mg, Geodon 60mg 2x/day, Ativan 1mg

Support HealingWellhttp://www.healingwell.com/donate


White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 6/24/2007 8:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Dear GMoss,
 
I certainly support any decisions you make regarding your care.  What I can tell you is  . . .  I have been on Lithium since 1984 (age 19) and take 675 mg per day.  I just finished my second Master's degree and don't feel I am any less "sharp" than I was 23 years ago.  Lithium has allowed me to live a stable and healthy life.  Without it, my quality of life would have been much different.  I'm not sure I would be alive.
 
I am sorry that you are feeling less "sharp."  I hope that whatever you decide to do works for you.  I have always been fearful of varying off of my prescribed medications.  I have a significant history of mental illness in my family (e.g. bi-polar, schizophrenia and schizoaffective) and saw what happened to my relatives when they stopped taking medications.  That's just how I operate . . . doesn't mean it's the only way.  I am supportive of whatever works for people.  One of my concerns in taking prophylactic medications is the potential for side effects over time.  I worry about that a lot.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

I'll send you good vibes and hope that your thoughts feel clearer.  Sounds like you cope very well.  Teaching is a stressful job.
 
Let us know how things are going.

White Tulip.

GMoss
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/25/2007 10:25 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you both Olivia and White Tulip. You certainly seem to be a caring lot on this forum. The profound understanding that can only come from experiencing this illness is clear. Maybe I need to get a little fitter. Teaching certainly does drain me. I have had no major episodes during the last twenty years but I do feel more moody since I've reduced the medication. However I cannot be certain that this is the reason.

My own children say that I think more of my school children than I do of them. I wish I wasn't as moody with them. Thank you for replying, you do seem a sensible bunch.

Regards GMoss

White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 6/26/2007 6:23 PM (GMT -6)   

Dear GMoss,

Like you, I've been asymptomatic for a long time . . . but sometimes it is still a challenge for me to figure out if a "mood" is normal baseline or a "mood swing."  No matter how stable and asymptomatic . . . the diagnosis is always there.  Does that make sense? 

As far as exercise, it really has become a must for me.  But like everything else in my life, I strife for balance between the two extremes.  I limit my exercise to a reasonable amount (e.g. 4-5 times a week) and don't go overboard.  I walk a lot and listen to music.  I gained a lot of weight at the onset of my illness and finally lost it a couple of years ago.  The walking helps my mental health as well as helps in keeping the weight off.

I don't know how old your children are, but I think it's pretty normal for children of teachers to feel that their parents "give more" to their students than them.  As far as feeling "moody" with your children . . . I think non-bi-polar parents probably have similar feelings.  You seem to be able to be reflective about your actions . . . that sounds like decent parenting to me.

Good luck with everything.  Sounds like you're doing well.  I just found this website this week . . . I'm thinking it will sometimes be nice to communicate with people such as yourself . . . people who have dealt with the diagnosis long-term and are stable.  Even though I am a "stable bi-polar" and have been in remission for a long time . . . I am still bi-polar.  It really doesn't go away.

White Tulip

 

 

 

 


White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/19/2007 8:22 PM (GMT -6)   

Dear GMoss,

Are you still checking the postings periodically?  Was wondering how you are doing.  Hope things are going well for you.  Let us know, if you want. 

I am doing well.  Was feeling very tired of being "chronically ill" a few weeks ago, but am dealing better now.   Onset was at age 17 and currently 42.   That's a long time to be coping.  :-) Guess it's normal to get tired -it's all a part of the process, I think.

White Tulip


Jade11
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 105
   Posted 7/25/2007 11:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been on lithium for about 4 years and have been stable. I hope it continues to work for a long time like some of you who have posted. I just got done with college and had a somewhat difficult degree. I felt like I did just as well if not better than my peers. Sometimes I do feel like I can't find a word that I am looking for or something. However, I might feel like this anyway.

Have you always been forgetful or is this a recent change? It is hard to know if this would have happened anyway, or if it is a side effect of the lithium. If it is a side effect hopefully tapering off of it will have positive effects. The alternatives to Lithium are anticonvulsant medications. Some of them are Depakote, Tegratol, and Lamictal. A lot of people find thses medications very effective.

White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/27/2007 5:02 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi Jade 11,

Congratulations on successfully completing your challenging degree program! A lot of work.

I don't mean to sound like the cheerleader for Lithium, but I've been on it for over 20 years and would be very frightened it I went off of it.  It really has been a part of what has saved my life and given me a good quality of life.  I have 3 college degrees (my last one completed last fall) and I think I am just as sharp as I was over 20 years ago.  I'm not sure what it is like for other folks, so I don't disagree with your idea that it might effect memory - it just hasn't for me. 

If I periodically forget something, I contribute it to the same behavior as a nonbipolar person would do . . . does that make sense?  Even though I've been dealing with the dx. for so many years, there are still times that I have to reflect on a behavior or feeling and contemplate whether it is "bipolar involved" or "something a nonbipolar person who do/say/think."  I think that is part of coping with a chronic illness.  Even though I have well for a long time, there is no guarantee that I will stay that way.  Nor is there a guarantee that I will not encounter side effects from taking my medication.  I am appreciative of every good day that I have and glad that I am well.

What does your doctor say about the memory issues? 

White Tulip


Jade11
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 105
   Posted 7/27/2007 6:57 AM (GMT -6)   
I geuss I don't really even consider it a memory issue. Just sometimes I notice that I can't think of the name of a place or something like that. Honestly I think that everyone does this.

Wow that is great that you have been on lithium for 20 years and have gotten your college degrees. It is so good to hear other people have success stories. I hope I can go that long and be stable. Every year that I am on meds and have had no episodes is a huge deal for me. It is so important for me to stay healthy. I think it would almost be detrimental to my career if something happened. So, I will just keep taking the meds and do everything I can to keep healthy.

White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/28/2007 8:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Jade 11,

Thanks for circling back about the memory issue . . . I misunderstood.  Glad you aren't having any out of the ordinary memory problems.
 
I am happy that you are having episode free years . . . that IS a huge deal.  Glad you have insight into the importance of compliance with a medication regime that is working well for you (with hopefully few side effects). 
 
I'm currently feeling a little sorry for myself and wishing that I didn't have the diagnosis . . . been feeling this way for a few months.  Talked to my doctor about it . . . see him every six months.  It will get better.  Sad really, not depressed.  Sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't gotten sick at age 17.  Realize that it may not have necessarily been better, but sometimes it's hard to see that.  Helps to read the postings here and be around people like me.  People like you . . . who are doing well.
 
White Tulip

olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 7/30/2007 4:28 AM (GMT -6)   
Yeah GMoss,
 
How is it going with the weening off the lithium going?
 
Olivia

White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 8/2/2007 5:31 AM (GMT -6)   

Dear GMoss,

If you sign on again, I hope all is well and I hope the best for you. 

I am signing off.  I joined the forum looking for dialogue around coping with chronic illness . . . and support around the loss that still exists after being "well" over time.  I didn't really find that.  As I sign off, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have my life and do so well . . . and much of that is due to taking my medication as prescribed.   I hope you do what is right for you and wish you the best.

 

 


Jade11
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 105
   Posted 8/2/2007 11:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi White Tulip,

I am sorry that you didn't find what you were looking for at this forum. I enjoyed your posts and your story. It was nice to hear from someone who had been doing well for some time. Maybe you will log on once more and read this, but maybe not. Best wishes.

olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 8/3/2007 4:13 PM (GMT -6)   
White Tulip,
 
I to am sorry that you were not able to find the support you are looking for here at HW.  You had very insightful things to say, and I want to say thank you for that.  Again, I am sorry that things didn't work out well for you and the forum.  Please consider us again in the future, and Best Wishes on your journey.
Olivia
Moderator, Bipolar
 
"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"
Dx:  Bipolar 1,  PTSD,  Anxiety-Panic Disorder
Support HealingWell: 
http://www.healingwell.com/donate


GMoss
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/12/2011 7:03 AM (GMT -6)   
Well over 4-years ago I opened this thread. I totally forgot about it until I searched in google for 'coming off lithium'.
I'm sorry for not following this up. I have presently finished work as a teacher and waiting for a decision on Ill-health retirement.

OllieScraps
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 7/21/2012 10:15 AM (GMT -6)   
I recently came off Lithium and have noticed immediate results in health conditions improving and have not experienced any kinds of relapse. My psychiatrist, who I trust more than many others in the field, and being in the field of human services for a long time I have met a lot of untrustworthy psych docs. My psychiarist told me that Lithium is one of the easiest drugs to come off of for not experiencing physical withdrawl symptoms. I lowered my daily dose to a half dose for four days and then came off completely. The real issues are relapse in mental health. My best piece of advice for coming off lithium is to be so ready to come off the drug that you don't even fear coming off of it anymore. The fear and or anxiety or the stigmatizing loved ones fear for your ability about coming off of lithium can effect you as much if not more than any significant amount of relapse from the physical aspects of coming off of the drug. I believe it is within many more people than we think to rid ourselves of this drug wihich causes long term physical effects and impairment, do whatever you can to get yourself so confient about living without this drug that the very idea of being on the drug scares you way more than not being on it and you will be successful. Stop listening to everyone else that is telling you it is hard or scary and know within yourself that you have the strentgh to overcome this medication on your own and everyone else will follow suit.
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