Vitamin L : Medication Adventures


Lamictal.  The one drug that I can say that we’ve all been on at one point or another in our adventures with medication.

Pardon me, my aphasia is showing with a little dash of emotional flattening.

I’m having difficultly remembering how to spell things.  You wouldn’t know it, because there is a such thing as spell check just for this purpose (but not solely).  My emotions are at such a level that I don’t actually feel.  It’s closer to a favorite pair of jeans where the dye has just completely washed out.  The jeans still look good, but they are faded and muted.  That’s me.  Faded and muted.

I can’t write intelligently like I did before.  Everything just comes pouring out like word vomit, because I can’t hang on to a thought for longer than a moment.  It’s a miracle that I can put anything coherent together.

The landscape of my technicolor world washed away into an old movie reel.  It’s so surreal.  Once, I was the flowing turquoise waters of the seas, ever changing, always in motion.  Now, I am the cracked earth, immobile and silent.  And ever so slowly, I am drying up and eroding, existing without life rooted in me.  Only the empty air whistles in my mind, catching a faint tune here and there, only to carry it away.

Moments come in flashes.  I am engrossed and deeply engaged for just a few seconds before I am distracted by something nonsensical.

Stop.  Sip of coffee.  What was I doing again?  I reread my last passage, and I am stumped, because it seems futile to even continue.  What is the point I am trying to convey with such vague and poorly worded imagery?

That was my world for the last month, prior to the last couple of weeks.  That is my life today, a translucent figure shrouded by shadows, discontent with such a shackled self.

That was not my life over the past couple of days.  That is how I narrowed down what medicine was doing this to me.  I was starting to run out of Lamictal, my Vitamin L as it’s commonly called in the mental health community (not to be confused with the Vitamin L of Lithium).  I lowered my dose from 300 mg to 200 mg in order to make it through successfully.

Except, there was no success to be had.  I went straight back into the same mixed episode I’ve been a slave to for more than nine months.  It was almost as bad as before, sans the psychosis.  I referred to it as Energetically Sad.  The story of my life.  I went into several crying fits a day, panicked and shouting the same phrase again and again,

“I can’t do this!!!  I can’t do this!!!”

Not again.  Not again.  Not again.

I can’t do this again.

Ultimately, I grabbed my precious medicine and dosed. The distress was immeasurable. I needed relief from that hell, the one I had endured for far too long.

But, I realized I’m not experiencing relief. I’m experiencing escape. My mind goes into a state of partial shutdown, leaving me no real clarity in any aspect. My consciousness is jagged, disjointed, and blurry, at best.

I experience slow motion waves of hollow, but shallow depression. Futility is found at every turn. The shadows seem deeper and more defined, like menacing sillouttes in the distance. I can’t shake them, but they can’t seem to touch me. They nip at my heels, and send ripples of darkness through me, infecting every molecule. And in a few moments, it passes, the poison having been purged.

At first, I thought it was just me. It felt like a new state altogether, like anxiety masked by a tight cloth, rustling, deperately seeking an outlet. It had the face of depression, leaving me dispondent and uninspired. But no true symptoms existed. Not in the desperate, deep dark places I’ve been. I stood in a parellel existence unlike anything I’ve ever known.

And then I thought, “Is this what it’s like to be better?” Dullness and mild discontent.

It’s not.

It’s the medication.

So, that leaves me with two very undesirable states. Perpetual distress or muted depression and anxiety. One zaps my everything, making me too medicated to function. The other disrupts my life with meltdowns, only making me partially functional.

One little pill is what makes the world of difference. My vitamin L.

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32 thoughts on “Vitamin L : Medication Adventures

  1. I’ve never been on it before.

    Thanks for writing this!

    • When I started it, I had a similar effect. But, it was a little different. Some things were better, some things were worse. My memory was worse, but the flat affect was better.

      The one difference is that I have “feelings”, but they just simmer instead of bubbling to the surface. It’s hard to make sense of them since they are so unclear.

  2. I’m about to start my own vitamin L adventure :/ I’m sure I will write about it at some point. I’d like to see what o’s on the other side, even if the grass isn’t much greener xx

    • It’s not too bad. I realized what I am going through is probably temporary. And the feeling isn’t bad as much as it’s not good. I was mixed / manic for a long, long time. This is just, well, bland. I’ve been through this before. It will go away. Probably.

  3. Your writing STILL IS beautiful and descriptive~ You have a talent…I can almost feel what you describe. You do not sound dull to me, at all.

    Sorry that you are feeling flat. =( I have felt that before and thought about the trade-off as well. Sanity? Or fun girl!?

    • You’re right. I thought about it, and I realized that this isn’t depression. It’s apathy, the opposite of every emotion out there. It just feels weird because it’s also the opposite of mania.

      I think it’s easy to get hooked on mania. Like getting hooked on a drug, a person comes to miss the euphoric rush. I miss it. I don’t miss the hysteria and crying. Now, I just cry. Maybe I’m crying for what I think I lost.

      • And a bit of an identity crisis.

        I used to be too much fun and I would hurt myself or others. Those days were super sad…regretting everything…not able to take it back.

        The trade off? Now I just hang back and observe more often…interject less, oh! and I think before I speak. Everything seems slower now, but more controlled.

        But yes, it does feel like loss of who we used to be. But I prefer this overall~

        • I don’t prefer the stinking headache it gave me. I should have had my first inkling that something was amiss when I got the infamous Lamictal headaches back again. These are headaches that ibpurofin hardly puts a dent in.

          I regret nothing. But, I’ll save that diatribe for one of my 30 Days of Truth coming up!

        • I am a 61 year old male, officially diagnosed bipolar in 2004, although now realize I have been dealing with it as long as I can remember. Started on Lamictal, then Lamictal and Lithium. Now, for past year and a half on Equetrol. Worst year of my life. Start with a new psychiatrist next month. Can’t wait.

  4. My Lamictal seems to help me at 400mg a day, but everyone’s different and I tend to need more medicine then most :(. There are many medications out there (I know I’ve been on most everyone) if the apathy keeps up and it’s that bad maybe you can ask for something else, or less. Although I also know I deal with some uncomfortable effects from some of my medicine because I need some sanity. Whatever the case hopefully you are better able to tolerate it, can change it in some way, or accept it. Best of luck!

    • Thanks. I did end up figuring some of it out. This is the same side effect I had when I started it in the first place. No doubt it helps my mood, but it felt like I was throwing a blanket over a fire. I’m still not sure if it’s going to go out or burst into flames.

      I’m having rebound depression from lowering my Wellbutrin on top of this. All the Abilify did was take the psychosis away. No effect on my mood, really.

      I build tolerances to medications rather fast. I’ve been doing okay in this cocktail, but every now and again, I take a serious dive. I’m in the midst of one right now. I’m not sure where the upswing is yet.

      At least I know there is one, right? The positives of having bipolar disorder….

  5. Lack of sleep really has a negative impact on my mood and ability to deal with the many day to day challenges made even more profound by bipolar. Is this the same with others?

  6. I had an intolerable experience with lamictil, but then I personally don’t think I should have even been put on it to begin with. It’s good that it makes such a difference in your life. The side effects can be hard to cope with sometimes. I know it feels like it to you, but from an outside perspective, you never seem unintelligent or dull or faded or muted, and whatever else.

    • I worried for a second. Is this “better”? Maybe I’m just losing a piece of myself that I identified with. A piece that was actually just disordered.

      Lamictal isn’t for everyone. I’ve heard a lot of good things and a lot of bad. There were even a few people I’ve talked to who ended up with the rash. That stuff is seriously bad news. I can thank my lucky stars that didn’t end up to be me.

      Instead, now I have this cognitive fog. Which is okay, I guess, because now that I’ve identified what it is, I can treat it with supplements. A little ginko goes a long way for me. I joked with my husband one night about how I forgot to tell him something that ended up with his foot in his mouth. And how I forgot to tell him that I needed to order more ginko. He wasn’t laughing, but I know I was!

  7. “I can’t write intelligently like I did before. Everything just comes pouring out like word vomit, because I can’t hang on to a thought for longer than a moment. It’s a miracle that I can put anything coherent together.”

    Eloquently put! I could write volumes about also experiencing this side effect…wait…what was I trying to convey? Seriously, I love your posts. Keep writing and hang in there. *HUG*

  8. *Hugs* right back at you. Thanks for the hugs and the kind words and encouragement. In times like these, I could use it, only because I feel like a talent is slipping from my grasp. If I lose my talents, then what do I have left? I’d be a husk of a woman.

    At least I figured out that this side effect should probably be temporary once I adjust to the new dosage of Lamictal. I did jump a whole 100 mg in one sitting.

  9. I really appreciate you writing this. My husband is on lamictal and this is definitely how he feels thought he doesn’t state it so eloquently. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to live through. It’s brutal to witness in someone you love. *hugs*

    • I appreciate your comment and your encouragement. It’s tough. The medication fogs just seeps in and everything becomes this blurry mess. And then I feel like I’m losing the grip on my life and my reality in a different way. I guess it’s akin to psychosis, but in a less psychotic way, if that makes any sense!

      *hugs* to you. It has to be brutal. I can’t imagine being on the other end of it.

  10. So you think that Lamictal is causing attention deficient issues? I haven’t noticed. But then I’ve been on it since 2003 and don’t remember my life before that – other than some of my manic and mixed episodes. My depression was so bad before Lamictal that I had no concentration anyway. I just never thought about it. When you are really bad off, any life-boat will do. I was suicidally depressed before Lamictal. It saved my life. That’s all I know.

    • Lamictal must have done the same for me, because I haven’t had an attempt in a long time now.

      I remembered that when I started Lamictal, I was in this brain fog really bad. My attention was so bad that I couldn’t follow a TV show. It was like being ridiculously stoned all of the time. So, it leads me to believe that this is the same effect.

      Not everyone gets it. I’ve noticed that I’m one among few that end up with cognitive problems with Lamictal. It’s starting to go away a little bit, but I lowered my dose to 250mg. I’m going to work my way up myself.

  11. Never been on your Vitamin L but am on my own adventure right now trying to come off the ‘other’ Vitamin L after 10 years. I’m very thankful for meds that help, but they have such a hold on us, and that is something I hate. The ‘other vitamin L might have saved my life but it’s also screwed up my physical health too. But hey, I’m alive. :-\

    • You are right. They have a firm grip that is awful. I had to cut my dose back to 200mg because I was running out before my appointment. I noticed the difference almost immediately. I was back to being mixed again. And now that I think about the situation, it was probably more akin to medicine withdrawal.

      That scares the hell out of me, because I realize that there will come a day where I have to get off of these medications, if I ever want to have another kid. I do, but I don’t know at what cost anymore.

  12. Thanks for this insightful blog. I went through a very long period of numbed depression that I just expected was normal. I longed for the euphoric high’s i used to get with mania but then my psycologist urged me to try Lamictal. For me, it was amazing. I finally feel like I can live with bipolar. whereas before I didnt want to live if i were to feel so numb for rest of my life. Thanks for bringing awarenss to this medicine. Like you said, for some it will help and others it wont but at least now other bipolar individuals will know about it and ask their doctor. Take care

    • Thank you for the encouraging compliment. I’m not great at taking compliments, so I’ll give one back. Thank you for stopping by for a read. I appreciate your feedback and your personal story.

      Lamictal has had some nasty effects with me, but I can’t ignore results. The only problem is that it doesn’t take away the depression. All it does is even me out, which in this case feels like depression. Maybe it’s in high contrast to the nasty manic episode that lasted months. I don’t know. But, I know that it’s what is causing my memory deficits, because it’s done that before.

      I feel like I’m emerging, kind of. The only problem is that I seem to be emerging into this jagged, on and off depressive episode. Sometimes, I’m perfectly fine. Other times, I’m hysterical. I don’t think that is Lamictal’s fault. I think my antidepressant doesn’t work like it used to.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Lamictal. It gets the job done. But, I don’t know if I can live with these effects.

      • I’m so sorry to hear that it isnt relieving your depression – I know the heartache and pain oh so well. This disorder is awful…feeling on top of the world and then crashing to pits of despair. I’m thinking of you and reading your blog/journey. I noticed that you said it caused memory deficits and that has been a HUGE issue i’ve been battling…i couldnt find any research stating this was a side effect and i have been seriously worried that its early onset dementia. thank you for reporting this.

        • No early onset dementia, unless it’s possible for a person to get it in their 20’s. I’ve read a lot of other blogs where people report it. The only reason I am sure that it relates to the Lamictal is because I’ve been through this before. Everytime my dose takes a leap, then I always always subject to some side effects like that.

          I think maybe it’s something you should talk about with your doctor. A lot of people will definitely tell you that it causes a “fuzzy head” thing sometimes.

  13. Whew. Everyone’s already said nearly everything I wanted to say….which is encouraging, because it means that I’m not the only one in a pea-soup brain fog, with terminal CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t) Syndrome, blunted emotions and perceptions, feeling distant from everyone and every thing, with the attention span of a gnat. On the other hand, it sure beats being psycho all the time, never being able to trust my perceptions, paranoia running (and ruining) my life, living in a state of perpetual crisis. At least now when something triggers me I’m back after a few days or at most a week, instead of months or years. I guess there really ain’t no free lunch.

    • Love the CRS term. I’m totally going to use that!

      I’m going to make an admission here. I stopped taking my antidepressant. I forgot to take it one day, and my head cleared up a little. I decided it wasn’t worth it. Not that I want to be ill, but I couldn’t take the soupy, brothy, thin brain and wispy emotions. It felt like this heavy, wet blanket that sat on top of everything, just dissolving and smothering the bubbling emotions that crawled frantically underneath.

      I had no means to release these things. It’s like I was just locked up inside my own brain with my own demons. It was agonizing, and I constantly went into crying fits, mourning the loss of my ability to think and write. Mostly the writing.

      Other than the crying jags and the overbearing anxiety, I’m okay. But, it didn’t matter whether I was taking the damn (pardon my French) antidepressants or not. The only thing that it did was take away my ability to be awake for more than five hours at a time. (That’s why I’m on Wellbutrin). I need a new antidepressant.

      No worries, I go to the doctor next week. In the meantime, I’ll be taking the silly placebo pill that just agitates me instead of doing it’s job every other day, to avoid the nasty withdrawal I started going through.

  14. Pingback: Abilify, Not I : Adventures in Antipsychotics | Sunny With a Chance Of Armageddon

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