Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Going off Lithium - I went off and learned, to my shock, my bipolar went away

Lithium carbonate. Read about lithium here. 

Also read my post "We loved lithium until it turned on us," which features the fascinating history of lithium.

New Directions had a phone call today from a woman from Maryland.

"Amy" found us on the Internet. Her husband is on lithium and is in Stage 3 of Chronic Kidney Disease.

"Chaz" is 69 yrs old. His doctor is going to wean him off the lithium and put him on Depakote while he's being weaned off.

Amy wanted to know if Depakote was a good drug. Read more about it here.

Yes, I said. Some of our members are on Depakote. What I didn't say is that childbearing women should not take it. Read more here.

Just wanna mention, I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist.

But.... I pay attention.

In answer to Amy's question, I called some of our members to ask what drugs they took after going off lithium.

BTW, Amy thanked me for our help.

We'll start with GINNY, since she's the most complicated case.

Please note that 'antipsychotic' drugs are often used as mood stabilizers.

Click on each drug below to learn more about them. 

Antipsychotics:   Seroquel, Risperdal, Geodon, Abilify, Latuda.

Mood stabilizers:   Lithium, Depakote, Tegretol, Trileptal

Ginny, 66, takes Wellbutrin (an antidepressant), Risperdal (antipsychotic) and Provigil (a wakefulness-promoting drug or stimulant).

She is probably in Stage 3 or 4 of Chronic Kidney Disease. Her kidney doctor has her on a special diet to preserve kidney function. She maintains a diet low in protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sodium.

Here's my post on my kidney-healthy diet I was on before I had my kidney transplant in April, 2011, courtesy of my daughter Sarah.  
 Sarah and Ruth

JUDY sees Dr Don Levin in Doylestown, PA, who no longer prescribes lithium.

Read about Dr Levin in the Times here.

I just happen to have Judy's photo
She's on Lamictal and Zoloft.

HELEN, one of our group leaders, writes:

For my mood stabilizer, I use Lamictal (generic - Lamotrigine) 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg at night.  I could not stand the side effects of Lithium.  It made me feel spacey and lethargic.  I was thirsty 24-7, which means that I needed a bathroom close by.  It was tough to swim or ski, as I had to leave the activity, often, to go to the women's room.  I tried Depakote after going off the Lithium.  That too made me tired and unmotivated.  Lamictal is the mood stabilizer that makes me feel most like I'm not on something.  I am grateful that it exists.
Helen Kirschner

My dear friend DENIS is on DIALYSIS, from losing kidney function due to lithium. He had a transplant which lasted six years, but then certain conditions made his body reject the kidney.

Denis is on Lamictal.   

MRS F, who's 75, and stable after going off the lithium, takes Zoloft, Lamictal, Klonopin, and Remeron.

I should mention that my doctor did not wean me off lithium and I was suicidal for the better part of 8 months. If you've never been suicidal, you have no idea what it's like. It's as if a FORCE as great as the winds of a tornado is pulling at you urging you to kill yourself.

If you wish, you can read my Keys to Recovery with Stop-Suicide Plan, which I learned about that dreadful year. Ironically, it was the year we won our first grant from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation. But, when suicide is calling her siren song, nothing can help you unless you figure out how to outwit it. 

Checking into the hospital is often advised.

How do you like this birdhouse I painted today?

Scott will hang it up tomorrow in the front yard since hummingbirds have found our feeder.

Life is good. Life is great. I've been on NO MEDS for a dozen years. Was it all a dream that I had manic-depression for 20 years?


  1. Your getting off the meds is truly inspiring, Ruth. All meds have serious side effects. But in another matter, and please pardon my bluntness, the birdhouse is a little gaudy.