A few years ago a psychologist suggested that I might be bipolar and referred me to a psychiatrist but I was in the process of moving across country so I never followed up and have "just dealt with it".
Recently, I went through the worst episode of depression ever. It lasted several months and the thoughts I was having are too scary to even put into words. Because I don't have insurance, it took two months for me to get into a sliding scale clinic to see a shrink. By the time I got in there, I guess I would classify myself as hypomanic or mixed state...still having suicidal thoughts and bouts of crying but extremely hyper, racing thoughts, hadn't slept for days. Based on one meeting, the shrink said it's classic bipolar and prescribed celexa, tegretol, and lamictol. I'm supposed to follow up in 4 weeks.
I started the celexa and tegretol but even the generic form of lamictol is over $300 and I don't have insurance so I've got to go back to the clinic next week to see if I qualify for financial assistance for that.
I know I've only been on the celexa and tegretol for a few days so I don't expect to see any results but I feel HORRIBLE!! I have a "hangover headache", I've got cotton-mouth, I'm nauseous, I can barely stay awake, I feel like my heart is pounding (not racing...just beating really hard...I can feel it in my chest and neck and head). Mentally, I feel like I'm stoned...like my brain is in a fog. The racing thoughts are slowing down a bit but everything's slowing down. That's a good way to describe it..I feel like my brain is in slow motion. I can't live like this.
I've looked up the meds and these side effects seem to apply to all three. Will this taper off as my body gets used to the meds or is this what the rest of my life will be like? Because honestly, I think this is worse than anything the mania or depression ever did. I'm a single mother with two small children. I had to call my parents today and BEG them to watch my boys for tonight. The whole drive to their house, I was scared to death I was going to get pulled over because I really felt stoned. How long do I wait before I say this just won't work for me and stop taking them? I mean, I want to give it a chance but I have to know that my children are safe and that I can function enough to work and right now, I'm not confident in either of those things.
I hate taking medication for anything so maybe I'm not quite as open-minded about the meds as I'd like to think. Still, is it possible for someone with bipolar to live a "normal" life or will it always be a choice between the illness or the "fog"?
YES YOUR LIFE CAN BE NORMAL. It takes a lot of work just to understand what bipolar is. I am bipolar with ADHD. I have thought many times which is the least desired to have, bipolar or ADHD. They are both challenge in life. The symptoms vary from patient to patient. Just find out what works for you. Don't quit until you find it. A second opinion from a shrink might be good.
I understand how you feel. I have been diagnosed w/bipolar II. I am currently taking 2 of the meds that you are. (I have also taken tegretol in the past). The side effects you are experiencing may get better as your body adjusts. It helps if you take the meds w/meals. The side effects are much worse on an empty stomach. Also drink plenty of water. If these suggestions don't help then you need to call your doctor and report how you are feeling. He/she may want to adjust the dose amounts or meds all together. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Good luck.
Thank you! It's only been a few days so I want to give it a chance but I'm alone with two small children. My parents live 30 miles away and are not all that helpful anyway. They took the boys for me Saturday night and I hope they'll bring them home ready for bed tonight (because there's no way I can drive to pick them up right now!) but tomorrow it's back to school and work. Today is the worst day yet...I really feel like I'm drunk. My head is spinning and I actually had to look up my password to check my work e-mail. I've been using the same password for more than 2 years and I couldn't remember it! I work from home doing e-mail tech support but I'm typing so slow and still my messages are full of errors. I slept for 12 hours last night and woke up still feeling tired and drunk this morning. I've got two people out at work this week so I really need to be at the top of my game to cover for them so this isn't good. I'm supposed to see the nurse when I go to the clinic to apply for financial aid for the lamictol on Monday so hopefully she'll have some insight. As far as i know, the doc is only in the clinic one or two days a month (it's a sliding scale clinic for people with no money and he travels around to different ones and has his own private practice that actually pays him) but I'm sure they have a way to get in touch with him between appointments. At this point, I'm scared to keep taking the meds and scared to stop, you know?
It is good that you are aware of all of these things, especially driving. I have a therapist and a shrink. My therapist knows that I have no fear of speed when I am on a spinner. I have driven 170/mph on a spinner. The shrink will adjust your meds if you are able to keep track of ALL of your mood behaviors. Normally the patient gets more time with the shrink than the councilor. You are so concerned about your children and you will do the right thing for them. What a special thing. It is so important that you keep track of your behaviors. How else will the shrink be able to figure out what's going on.
Yes they can get ahold of your Doc. Normally It doesn't take too long for them to respond. (a few minutes to a few hours). That is what they do for a living. Yes they get payed well for their services normally. I do know of situations where they volunteer. When that occurs, they all volunteer.
Hi I want to reach out to you and tell you YES there is hope for living with bi-polar disease. I have been living with major depression,post traumatic stress diorder (ptsd since my mom died when I was only 26) and being bi-polar since 1992. Ask your dr about depakoteER,it is a mood stabilizer and I have been on it for years to treat my bi-polar and it has really been my saving grace. Also since it is a drug that has been out for awhile(i have been on it since 1992) it shouldn't be expensive. I am sorry I can't tell you the price because my insurance covers it. It doesn't have any bad side effects with me other than the occassional dry mouth,but it is SO worth it because I know now that I could NOT live my life on an even keel without it. Please try to hang in there and feel free to write me back anytime I will be more than happy to answer you back. Until next time TAKE CARE!!!
Thanks everybody! I'm getting really fed up with this clinic. I wish I knew who to call to just raise h*ll but right now I just don't have it in me. I guess that's an improvement...maybe.
I had called a suicide hotline a couple of months ago and the nurse who answered the phone scheduled me an appt at this clinic but the earliest appt was 4 weeks out. She said if I was a danger to myself or others, she could get me in sooner but otherwise, that was the best she could do. Well, the week of the appt, my 4-year-old was in the hospital so I called to reschedule. This time they told me the first appt was 5 weeks out. I was just about hysterical on the phone and kept telling the nurse that I was afraid if I told her the truth about how bad it was, they'd take away my kids and they were the only thing stopping me from killing myself...but that I was really scared and needed to be seen right away. She agreed, that if I was a danger to myself or my kids, they'd take the kids away, but if I wasn't a danger to anyone, then I'd have to wait for an appointment. I told her that I had been to the clinic's website and it said that they took walk-ins. She said she didn't think that was up to date but I should call the clinic during business hours to ask. I called, and called, and called, and called, but I never got an answer so I just gave up and resigned myself to waiting for the appointment date. Well, when the big day finally rolled around, I made sure I was there an hour early to do paperwork but guess what? They had no record of me. I didn't have an appointment and they took walk-ins yesterday. They told me I could go to a different location across town where they were taking walk-ins that day or I could come back in two weeks when they took walk-ins there again. Problem was, by the time I got across town, even if they got me right in without a wait, I wouldn't have been able to make it back in time to pick my kids up from school. And of course, there would have been a wait. I wound up pitching a temper tantrum right there in the lobby, crying, threatening to kill myself, all kinds of stuff. It really wasn't trying to be manipulative...I had just had enough. One of the counselors agreed to see me in between scheduled patients so I waited three hours to be "worked in". The crazy thing was, everybody there acted like I was in the wrong and they couldn't figure out why I was upset.
Last week, when I went back to see the doctor, it was pretty uneventful. Except that they still haven't processed my financial paperwork so I've now been seen twice and have absolutely no idea how much it's going to cost me.
When I went to the pharmacy and found out how much the lamictol is, I called the clinic and asked them to get in touch with the doc and have him switch it for something else. They told me to come in today to meet with the nurse and apply for financial assistance. Great...I showed up 5 minutes early today and waited for over an hour. When the nurse came out, she said that lamictol is not eligible for financial assistance so I need to come back tomorrow when the doc is in the office. That's better anyway because I can talk to him about how I'm feeling but is anyone running this circus? It's a strange feeling though...knowing that I have every right to be mad about taking time away from work and driving all the way down there (the clinic is about 30 miles from me), waiting, only to be told to come back tomorrow...but I'm just too stoned to care. My kids are loving it though...last night, I spent most of the evening laying on the couch saying "Whatever"..."Mommy can we have some more candy?"...."I don't care"...."Can we watch this movie that you never let us watch?"..."Whatever"...
I do e-mail tech support for work. I usually average about 35 'tickets' per hour. Since I started these meds, I'm averaging 11 per hour. And you don't want to know how long it took me to figure that out.
Several years ago, I was close friends with a woman who was bipolar. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why she quit taking her meds when she knew it made her "crazy"...it ruined her marriage (and I'm pretty sure it contributed to the downfall of her two previous marriages)...it was a huge strain on her sons...when she finally crashed, she tried to kill herself. I just couldn't understand why she didn't just take the meds...now I do. I was on my way into a manic spell when I started this stuff and I feel like I've been poisoned. I know, I know, it's only been a few days and there are lots of different meds to try but I went from high to zombie overnight. I just want to feel "normal". I think I'm ok with giving up the highs if I can lose the crashes too....but not like this. I can't even get angry when it's fully justified?
Back to the doc today to talk to him about the lamictol. When I walked in, he had this big grin on his face and asked me how I'm doing. I told him (in my best angry voice) I'm freaking stoned out of my mind. He just laughed and said "thanks to me!" I told him it's not "thanks"...I hate feeling like this. This isn't 'sitting around at a party giggling with your friends stoned'....it's 'which one will DFACS think is worse - keeping the kids home from school because I'm too stoned to drive them or getting busted driving them to school?' He said he can't believe how much better I look than last week (last time he saw me I was pushing 60 hours without sleep...now I've done little else but sleep for the last 5 days!) and he's proud of me for sticking with it through the side effects because a lot of people would have quit after the first couple of days. He said if it's really that bad, to cut the dose of Celexa and Tegretol in half until I feel like I've adjusted to that and then start back with the full dose again. He also said that the nurse yesterday was wrong about Lamictol not being eligible for financial assistance (imagine that!) so he's going to put me in touch with a nurse from another clinic who can hook me up with that.
I'm actually feeling better today. I'm still crazy sleepy and my head feels foggy, but I don't feel as "drunk" as I have the last several days so I guess I'm settling in. Many years ago, in a past life it seems, I was hooked on pain killers. There's a fine line between using them for chronic pain and abusing them and you can become addicted either way so we won't go there...but the bottom line is I worked so hard to break free of that and get clean. When I did get clean, I was shocked at how clear everything was because I really hadn't realized that I'd been living in that fog for years. I think that's what's scaring me the most right now. This all feels very familiar. I don't want to get sucked back into that fog. I want to get the mood swings and the mania and especially the depression under control, but at what price? I really am trying to give it an honest chance though. I haven't set a time limit because I know there are a lot of factors to consider. I'm just afraid at some point I'll have to decide which is the greater evil...living at the mercy of my moods and chemicals that are seemingly out of control, or living my life medicated.
It sounds like your Dr. is on top of things. To fine tune the drugs is sort of an art. Patients act differently to different meds, dosages or what ever. As an example I began on a manic spinner last Thursday. There was a definate trigger and I recognized the symptoms by Friday morning. The shrink increased my Depakote dosage from 500mg to 750mg. and reduced my Lexipro from 15mg to 10mg. The whole mania thing was over in 36 hours, and I slept 16 hours and got up. I can't be doing that because I have a business to run. So I took 10mg of Ritalin for my ADHD and slept for another 3 hours.
The last spinner I went on lasted 3 days. I asked them if I was becoming cyclic. The shrink and the theripist both told me that the diagnosis was the same, but I just caught it in time. Probably 3 days lost. Oh well.
Please give them time to tweak the meds. It sounds like your Dr. is on the right track. --et--
Last edited by etsnyder; 05-07-2011 at 12:50 AM.
Reason: 3 days not 3 months. BAD MISTAKE!!!
I see that one of your meds is Ambien. Have you read the reactions list? I got every one of them. Going out and getting in the Jeep and going for a ride totally asleep (like sleep walking) was not out of the picture. The reactions list will tell the rest. Enough said. --et--
Since the PsyDoc realized I was BP2 and not just depressed after 6 years. I went though 3 docs and 4 or 5 mood stabilizers. My experience follows (note that this applies to me and your mileage may vary). Depacote 2 years added 28 lbs. and vomiting every time I ate any food with marinara sauce.; Topamax 1 year, California drug, makes you thin and stupid, had constant mental confusion (lost my job because I could not learn new tasks); Lithium 2 years, worked well except for the tremors, gained 24lbs and dry mouth which destroyed my teeth, also in hot climates dehydration is a worry. Lamotrigine, for me it works well. Down to 4 lbs. from my ideal weight in 3 months, I have energy again (not mania) and most of all, my wife asked me if I was on something different and said Lactamil made me the guy she married. The atypical anti-psychotics made me feel as if I am under 6" of water and don't have the energy to swim to the top.
Yes , there is help and it is not a quick process and expect to try several meds to find what works for you. Do not give up. We, humanity need you.
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The carbamazepine will help only if you do not drink any alcohol. I mean non, zero zilch. This will allow it to get in your system in a few years and you will then start to feel better. It is the reason why you are feeling bad on them.