I forgot my lithium, again.

7 Jul

I forgot my pills the other day.

It’s simple enough to do. My schedule is out of wack, getting home at nearly 1am, falling into bed by 3am if I’m able-most nights I’m able to stick to my focus in terms of water-pills-brush teeth-bed. The other night…who knows.

My memory dilates, being perfect one moment and remembering the precise texture and smell of my mother’s beef stew, and yet in another moment, unable to remember what room I was just in or why I have 2 pencils, a book and Gatorade in my hand. It’s irritating, is only getting worse, and can cause great harm. Like when you forget your lithium and it can be out of your system in a few hours, what you had taken almost 24 hours before.

Within a day, I realized I had forgotten it. It’s like suddenly your axis is removed, and you start off with this slow wobble that starts to build momentum, slowly at first, so you think you’re just having a crap day like everyone else does.

Many people don’t believe in mental illness, or more specifically, the drugs that can treat it.

By the end of the second day, I started to become suicidal, and by the third, I was yet again irrational, completely paranoid, and nearly unable to keep intrusive thoughts at bay. I had gone from being in a good mood, from being fine, able to keep the odd nattering tucked in tightly, to screaming, yelling, crying, and expecting people to be able to read my mind about my needs. I started thinking about the ease of death, and how it would be salvation.

I worked and worked to keep that particular thought sated with it’s own existence.

It’s been a week, and only now do I feel like I’m approaching my normal again. The overwhelming sad thoughts are a few days behind, and outwardly I’ve been ok. Inward…I have moments, and it will likely be a few more days until I get my sea legs and am able to stand. The cleaning rampage I’ve been on signals that I’m on the right track, and my levels are approaching normal.

It’s scary though, fucking scary, to see that the difference between my normal, and possibly death, can lie in 4 small pills. My own persistence and effort counts for something, but without the strength lithium provides, I would be nowhere.

Because of this, because of this happening a few times, I will always believe that the right drug DOES help a person. Because there are two me’s-one who is treated, and one who isn’t. And one of them wouldn’t survive without the other.

22 Responses to “I forgot my lithium, again.”

  1. Sheri July 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Your last paragraph sums up the whole medication issue perfectly. Take care of yourself.

  2. Pamala July 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    How does your family deal with this all in general?

    I mean seriously my husband or soon to be ex-husband by his choice, gets like that within days of forgetting his medication. Now he expects me to allow him visits with my daughter, without me, when he can’t remember to take his medications. Medications that keep him sane and keep him from doing stupid stuff. How do I as a mother trust that he won’t hurt himself while in the presence of our child? I know he wouldn’t hurt her but if he can’t take care of himself, take his meds as directed, how do I trust he can take care of our own child who has a disorder as well requiring medicine?

    Then I feel bad because I can’t trust him. He wasn’t like this when we married, the disorder cropped up two years ago. And I’m supposed to trust him, but how can I trust that him when his mind is so screwed up and he does nothing to try to get better?

    Anyhoot you don’t have to answer, I was just wondering if you feel I’m out of line for being worried. I don’t think he’d hurt our child, but I worry he’ll forget something or he’ll hurt himself with her there.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:43 am #

      HOnestly Pam, not well. I backed myself into a corner with it last year but not dealing with it, and nearly destroyed my own marriage.

      You aren’t wrong to be concerned-frankly, if the tables were turned I’d be much more bothered than my significant other gets. He’s dealt with my disorder with a measure of grace I’m afraid I couldn’t replicate.

      Sometimes, when sick, when in a black mood or feeling spinny, the kids are slightly on the peripheral-they aren’t in danger or anything, but I know I’m not being the parent, the adult they need. Thankfully, I seem to be able to tell the difference still. I worry constantly that someday I won’t be able to.

      • Pamala July 8, 2009 at 1:49 am #

        Sometimes I feel bad, thinking that he should get a pass, because it’s the disorder after-all but finally someone told me that just because he’s sick, he doesn’t get to get away with some seriously bad things. And that sometimes you have to make him suffer consquences because if he never does, then he’ll never change or want to change.

        It’s just hard because I don’t like seeing him hurt and go through those emotions, but I can’t do anything for him anymore. He’s pushed me out and done some seriously hurtful things, things that I’d never expose myself to again and now I worry about him being alone.

        I think there will have to come a day that I’ll just have to recognize that I can’t help him if he doesn’t want to help himself. I just wish that he could see that our daughter does need him and that he would use that to make sure he gets better.

  3. schmutzie July 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Mental illness is absolutely real. I’m proud of anyone who takes the measures they need to be well, and I’m glad that you made it through this chemical hiccup.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:44 am #

      It’s so tiresome, hearing from others that it isn’t real, and I should just eat gluten free/take more vitamins/lick a pig/smile more. It’s insulting and condescending.

  4. Vanesa July 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm #

    It took me YEARS to allow myself to be put on “happy pills.” They’re a mild anti-depressant but it was something I needed to do. Oddly, I have forgotten for the last TWO days. Not having meds to help you remember to take meds is not good.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:45 am #

      I know I’ve likely been ill since late childhood/early adolescence, but compensated well, and had other things going on to cover for it. But then it exploded. It still took me a number of years to really consent to treatment. Sad isn’t it? We fight that which might make us well?

  5. Kay July 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    Nothing frustrates and angers me more than people who assume that you can “snap yourself out of” depression or mania. People who are so quick to say that you shouldn’t need a pill to do it…

    If they could live just a short time in my head… and see the difference between medicated and unmedicated, they’d never make those comments again.

    Of course I hate that I “need” meds. But I’ve accepted it because I want to live – I want to thrive, not just barely survive. I want my husband and kids to know the real me, not the me that’s buried under a depression so deep I can’t see the light of day anymore, or the me that’s running away in a manic rush.

    Me? Is medicated. Because without the medication, I couldn’t keep going.

  6. Hannah July 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Sounds scary. Wish I had something at all useful to say.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:47 am #

      Scary is taking care of all the peeps in your house dude. You’re a very useful engine. πŸ˜€

      • Hannah July 13, 2009 at 11:33 am #

        Ha, lately I feel like I’m causing confusion and delay!

  7. Jennifer July 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    Not trying to state the obvious here, but do you think those little pill organizers would work for you? I have one that is a 7 day holder (morning, lunch, dinner and evening compartments) and each day of the week can be removed. First thing I do in the am is pop it in my pocket. I carry it with me, and take my pills when I remember them.

    I’m not on anything prescription, but I take a ton of supplements, many affect my mood. Without them, I’d be in a coma by 1pm and depressed within a few days.

    Its a hard habit to get into.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:48 am #

      Totally gettting one. Since I obviously need one.

  8. flutter July 7, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    I am proud of you for taking care of yourself.

  9. Marcy July 7, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    Oddly reassuring — not that I wish such an experience on anyone, but it does confirm that for some of us, the meds really do make a necessary difference.

    I’m glad you’re getting back on track, and wish you wisdom to find whatever will help you stay consistent with your meds.

    • thordora July 8, 2009 at 12:49 am #

      In a weird way, it is. Kinda like popping my head up, sniffing around and saying “yup. still nuts.”


  10. magpie July 8, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    I don’t know why, but I find it really hard to remember to take pills. I have them on the kitchen windowsill, above the sink, and I’ll be drinking my coffee in the morning, inches away, and I just forget. I think I forget the whole kit and caboodle once a week. It’s all pretty mild, so a day won’t make a huge difference, but still. It’s so little and so stupid.

    Completely OT – I noticed (on Schmutzie, though it’s also in your profile) that you’re from Moncton. I’ve never been there, but my SIL is from there, and we’ve talked about visiting.

  11. Bon July 9, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    totally scary, that fine line in those little pills, that line that is the difference between everything.

    you’ve opened my eyes a lot, actually. we had a notorious psychiatrist here for years who blanket-prescribed Lithium in catatonia-inducing doses to three in a row of my high school friends, two of the best and brightest we graduated with and then my ex & friend who developed schizophrenia. all needed help, most definitely. my ex definitely needed drugs. but not those ones, and not in those doses. it took him an extra four or five years to find his way back to functional thanks to that detour.

    and until i met you i’d never had to challenge my own assumptions about Lithium. so thank you for your honesty…because you’ve definitely shut down my well-intentioned but what-the-fuck-do-i-know voice in the peanut gallery, dissing that drug.

    • thordora July 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

      Shit dude, I WAS that person for a long time. I wouldn’t go near them, terrified by my own experiences with people on them.

      But it’s like anything else-if it’s NOT the right thing, it will be obvious. Or at least that’s my experience.

      It’s saved my life-it, and a lot of work. So I never diss drugs off hand anymore myself, she who takes nothing if she can help it. I hate taking pills.

      But I hate hating myself even more.

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