side effects

Sorta stable

I saw my psychiatrist today. It’s been 8 weeks since I started Lamotrigine, with its slow increase to the therapeutic level. Its gone well. I’ve levelled out, my sleeping pattern has stabilized (sort of) and my recent hypomanic episode didn’t end in disaster.

He asked if I was having any side effects and I had my list at the ready:

1. Memory has deteriorated – hence the written list. He thought that was funny. I told him he’s lucky I have a damaged memory ‘cos I’ll soon forget that he laughed at me. Then we both had a good chuckle. Sometimes all you really can do is laugh at yourself.

2. My sense of balance is seriously questionable. I told him about my back injury. He didn’t laugh at that.

3. My vision has deteriorated. I can no longer drive at night. But then who can see in the dark anyway, right?

4. I have a tick in my right eye. If you think I’m winking at you, you’re mistaken. There is no attraction between the grocery clerk and I, its only a side effect presenting in the most awkward of circumstances.

5. An increased thirst. My horrible thirst has increased to a desperate thirst. When I talk my top lip gets stuck to my upper teeth. Lemme tell you, at this point, I do not look pretty…..

I kinda look like this when talking with my dry mouth.  Embarrassing

I kinda look like this when talking with my dry mouth. Embarrassing

He started making some noises about changing my meds. I stopped him and told him I could live with all of the above. If things get worse he’ll be the first to know. Then I told him about my home sweet home and we enthusiastically swapped decorating ideas for the next half an hour (decor ideas brainstorming session generously sponsored by my medical aid)

A good time was had by all.



A pain in the ass

You may have noticed I’ve been absent for a bit. Well I did myself an injury.

I was being all proactive and self caring ‘n shit. I was, ohmygod yes I was indeed…… exercising. Doing yoga to be precise. And, courtesy of a lamotribine side effect (balance loss), I fell over. I’ve compressed 3 discs in my lower back and have pinched the sciatic nerve so my entire right leg is just useless. I’m in quite a bit of pain. Oh holy hell!!! I’m in a lot of pain. It particularly hurts to sit and to walk or stand. So I’ve been unable to blog. I am having physio. I was taking anti-inflammatories ‘cos that’s what you have to do. But I’m not supposed to take anti-inflammatories with lithium. But I’ve been throwing caution to the wind because of the pain and immobility. But lithium will have the last say and I’m now paying the price. Everytime I swallow diclofinac I get an immediate bladder infection. Oh joy, it just keeps getting better and better.

So the moral of the story is… NEVER. EVER. EXERCISE!!! Don’t do it! Just say NO! Anyway, that’s the reason for my absence. I am missing you all and will be around again as soon as I can sit on my ass. And don’t forget children, stay away from exercise!

Another pill

the slow incline of another pill that makes me ill
in all sorts of ways it misbehaves
but the end goal is relief
at least that’s the belief
so every night I swallow and by morning still feel hollow
and wallow in nausea and pain
there’s not yet been any gain from this magical pharmaceutical
my symptoms remain unmoveable
to have hope seems delusional
but still I drink that pill that makes me ill
and chase hope like an unending rope
to at last be free from this misery
that is me

Me: 1 Voltaren: 0

A round of applause please. I’ve successfully given myself a Voltaren injection. In my bum cheek. With pronounced hand tremor. Youtube showed me how to divide up my derriere for the sweet spot. I used my eyeliner to draw X-marks-the-bullseye. Youtube then said I must throw the injection similar to the force of throwing a dart. Now throwing a dart at your own bum backwards is relatively awkward. I think I was overzealous as I sunk the entire needle into my ass cheek. But my intention was to do a good job of it. And a good job was indeed done.

I'm doing my own injections because its cheaper. I'm sure you're becoming familiar with the developing theme - I like cheap, I need cheap 'cos.... poor 'n shit

I’m doing my own injections because its cheaper. I’m sure you’re becoming familiar with the developing theme – I like cheap, I need cheap ‘cos…. poor ‘n shit


Wait. Let me start at the beginning. I saw my doc today for my suicide-crisis follow-up. He was surprised by the espiride side effects I have been experiencing and declared “You are most definitely highly sensitive to anti-psychotics”. Oh yay. Just when I’m developing symptoms of psychosis. I do not feel a long term happy ending here. By the way, is sarcasm a side effect of psychosis? I’ve become decidedly snarkly of late.


My doc’s drug of choice today is Clozapine. While its a drug used for schizophrenia, in lower doses it has an anti-suicidal effect and could bring me out of this depression which he termed a ‘situational depression’ brought on by grieving ‘n stuff. He gave me three choices, but bear in mind I was hospitalized and booked off work a total of a month and a half at the end of last year. I’m worried more days off would be asking for trouble.

1. HOSPITAL [booked off work 5 days]
I haven’t been sleeping. So knock me out for a few days. Then bring on the clozapine and the inhouse psychologist to deal with all my shit
MY RATING: very, very, very, very last resort

2. AT HOME [booked off 3 days]
Same as above, minus in the inhouse psychologist which he seems extremely insistant upon
MY RATING: maybe a possibility

3. AT HOME + WORK [booked off ZERO days]
No knocking me out. So to get me sleeping at night, but relatively awake enough to go to work the next day is a cocktail of voltaren injection + rivotril + clozapine + trepiline + dormonoct. Phone in on Monday to give an update + see the psychologist he referred me to in my own time.
MY RATING: green light, go

Judging from the Voltaren introduction, you don’t need a medal to guess which option I chose.

Pretender playing charades

I have consistently been wearing full make-up for the first time in my life. Its a drag and I hate it but it hides the black rings under my eyes. It obscures the shadows and imperfections. Adds colour to my cheeks and makes my eyes bright. So they pop. I am an imposter with a flawless mask.

Oh yes I’m the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
too real is this feeling of make believe

People tell me how good I’m looking. How great I’m looking. So fine, so well, so marvelous, so healthy. I never knew depression looked so good on me. Now off venlafaxine, the feedback is I look lucid, present, in the moment. And I’ve slimmed down. As opposed to bloated, blank, slow, drugged and slurring my words. Oh wait, whats that’s I hear? Nothing. Just the demise of my dignity.

Currently undermedicated, I will soon be reinstated to slow, slurring zombie status. And, too tired to explain, I reinforce the deception with my own lies:

I’m fine thanks…. well thanks…. good…. great… fabulous… fucking aaaaaaaaaawesome!!!


How many Bipolars does it take to change a light bulb?

Firstly, in my defence I did not have a high enough ladder. But bipolar girl-minus-man will make a plan to do it by herself in the name of independence.

Brushing aside my propensity for losing my balance, I climbed to the very top of my two-step ladder. That in itself was already far too high for my liking. I mean, phlease, I get nervous in high heels! I soon learnt that downlighting is not a simple bulb switcheroo.

I know I didn’t look pretty doing it, but in the end, I got it done. I pried that bloody contraption from the ceiling despite my lack of balance. I fitted those little pins of the light bulb into their teeny-tiny slots despite my shaking hands. And I did all this standing on my ladder on tip toes.

It may sound simple to ordinary folk. But it was a challenge for me. I was all stiff, wobbly legs, shaking hands and sweating all over. But it was a success. Old light bulb out. New light bulb in. No help required. For a while there, I felt like a superhero. Until reality set in and I realised I have another 14 downlights in this place.

What a great big pain in my asshole to have to repeat this process when the time comes. But I am no damsel in distress. Okay, I concede, I’ve hurt my back just a little bit, but I refuse to ask for help for something as trivial as changing a light bulb.

Side effect of a side effect

Woke up this morning with another sore throat.  It happened to me 2 weeks ago and what I thought was just the flu, the doctor told me was an oral thrush infection in my mouth and throat.  It is caused by the lithium dry mouth.  Yes, can you believe.  A side effect has its own side effect.  I hate bipolar.

A side effect of  lithium is a dry mouth.  A dry mouth means little to no saliva.  Since saliva protects our teeth, gums and soft tissue from bacterial infections, the mouth becomes a breeding ground (ughh!) for infections.  A simple thrush infection in your mouth can move on to your entire respiratory system.  It also fills my nose and mouth with ulcers that make it painful to eat.  So some cortisone, gels, sprays, pills, mouthwash and drops, two days off work, and I was right as rain.  Until this morning that is.

To prevent the oral thrush, drink lots of water and keep your mouth hydrated.  Uhh, right doc, I do that already.  I drink about 3 liters of water daily.  She tells me there’s nothing else really, as long as I take lithium I’m going to be prone to getting oral thrush and will just have to treat the symptoms.  There’s no question of coming off lithium.  It’s been my magic kinda-cure for bipolar.

All I can say is thank god it’s Friday.  I feel like a misery and I HATE BIPOLAR.

Bipolar plays me for a fool

I had an unusal start to my day.

I was more than slightly bewildered by the lack of traffic on the road. And I got a fright as I pulled in to work to discover the parking area almost full. I was late. A quick glance at the clock in my car revealed I was very, very late indeed. An hour late. But my alarm on my phone had gone off at the right time this morning?

Confused, I parked and scratched around in my handbag, hauling my cell phone out. Hmmm…. That time was an hour earlier than the clock in my car. I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I had some missed calls and text messages from my father and my boss. They were concerned about me – is everything okay? That type of thing. They were probably worried I was hanging in my closet. I was touched by their concern but I needed to haul ass. It was a busy day. And I’d just lost an hour.

I came barrelling into the office talking about lost time and twilight zones amidst much laughter from everyone. Once I had calmed down, and scrolled through my phone, I discovered where I’d gone wrong. Miss Bipolar-can’t remember-anything-gets-all-confused-and-possibly-dyslexic (me) had set my phone to the wrong time zone. I live in Durban, South Africa. I’d set my phone to Dublin, Ireland. Durban, Dublin. Yes, similar. But really? Honestly? Dublin?

The joke was on me for the rest of the day. I played along to keep things light and funny. But the disturbing thing for me is, this time zone debacle is one of many, many confusions, errors and memory losses that befall me on a daily basis. And in a way, I can’t help but feel guilty that my ‘airhead’ behaviour today, although entirely unintentional, does reinforce some of the aspects of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Well, what’s done is done. Bipolar kicked my ass today. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.

Creativity doesn’t live here anymore

Words are my art. But I have become illiterate. A mind infused with sudden dyslexia and forgotten words. I can’t talk properly….’cos forgotten words. Rhyme escapes me. When I write, I need google for “what is it called when someone loses their mind”….. and google may answer “forgetful”. Sod you google.

I have hardly any mood swings. And when they do emerge, they’re not extreme. Great! Good stuff! Mission accomplished! Hmmmpf, I guess.

Oooooooh my god, I’m just never happy am I?

I guess. Everything in life has a give, and a take. And as much as Lithium and Venlour have given me with regard to a marked improvement in my mental health, they have also robbed me of the best elements of myself – my intelligence, my creativity and my sense of humour. Not forgetting the physical side effects which just make me look straight up weird. I’m not even gonna go there.

Help! I feel vacant. The hamster’s in the cage but the wheel’s not turning! I’m one egg-salad-sandwich short of a picnic basket! I feel flat. Passion has abandoned me. And I have serious abandonment issues, dude, so I’m not taking this well. I don’t feel whole. I don’t feel ‘me’.

Whatever. I’m so over my life at the moment.