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Maskbipolar: Getting off Lithium


Maskbipolar

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Hello everyone.  I'm new to the group.  I've been on lithium for more than 3 years.  Lately, my memory loss has been worse, I've been having frequent nighttime awakening to go to the restroom because of the Lithium so over the past year my sleep has been off.  I am exhausted and extremely frustrated that they pushed a label on me to begin with when I was finally discovering myself.  In any case, I don't have a  lot of support from my husband or psychiatrist and my psychiatrist is recommending that I switch to Depakote because of the side effects of the Lithium.  So I know that in order to get off the medication without having a manic episode, I need to do it slowly and i obviously can't continue with lithium for that long.  Do I introduce Depakote in the meantime and drug myself up with both until I get to a stable dose?  Is Depakote hard to get off of? What do you recommend?

 

I don't get it.. I had infections both times that I had a manic episode, plus both times I got my period in the hospital.  Both times I was sleep deprived beforehand... and my psychiatrist even admitted to me that sleep deprivation causes people to lose some of their inhibitions. I was also going through profound transformations at the time and getting in touch with emotions and parts of myself that I hadn't allowed myself to be and what gives them the right to tell me I have bipolar when they can't even explain the physical/emotional components?  Plus I have MTHFR (a genetic mutation) and some other sensitivities and deficiencies like anemia (not iron deficiency).  

 

Thank you.  Looking forward to your input.

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welcome MaskBipolar

 

I'm sorry I'm not really able to answer your question. I have been on lithium in the past and always stopped it without tapering, I have also been on lithium and depakote at the same time. I stopped the depakote and stayed on the lithium, I also stopped zyprexa at the same time I stopped the depakote, and I did not end up manic, instead I ended up severely depressed. Or so I was led to believe.

I do not know now, in looking back, if the way I felt wasn't a reaction from going off those two meds so suddenly.
I just don't know.

 

It sounds like you do not believe that you truly have bipolar disorder. You mention being "sleep deprived" - were you unable to sleep but wanted to, did you feel tired, or were you full of energy and felt no need for sleep?

a so called "classic" manic episode is a period where you don't feel like you need much sleep, you have a lot of energy, you start a lot of projects, but typically don't finish them... the symptoms get worse over time to the point where you are unable to sleep, may have pressured speech, etc.

 

You mentioned that you got your period when you were at the hospital- so were you experiencing PMS symptoms prior to being hospitalized?

 

I guess what I'm asking is, what was the reason for you being admitted to the hospital? were you diagnosed as bipolar based on a single admission? what criteria did they use to come to this diagnosis?

 

hopefully others with more experience will come along but I wanted to say hi and welcome you to the forum!

  • pysch med history: 1974 @ age 18 to Oct 2017 (approx 43 yrs total)
  •  Drug list: stelazine, haldol, elavil, lithium, zoloft, celexa, lexapro(doses as high as 40mgs), klonopin, ambien, seroquel(high doses), depakote, zyprexa, lamictal- plus brief trials of dozens of other psych meds over the years
  • started lexapro 2002, dose varied from 20mgs to 40mgs. I tried to get off it several times. WD symptoms were mistaken for "relapse". 
  •  2013 too fast taper down to 5mg but WD forced me back to 20mgs
  •  June of 2105, tapered again too rapidly to 2.5mgs by Dec 2015. Found SA, held at 2.5 mgs til May 2016 when I foolishly "jumped off". Crashed in Sept, reinstated at 0.3mgs in Oct. 2106
  • Tapered off to zero by  Oct. 2017 Doing very well
  • Nov. 2018 feel 95% healed, current age 63 
  • Jan. 2020 feel 100% healed, peaceful and content 
  • Aug 2021, loving life ❤️ 
 
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This is the official Tapering Lithium thread: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2976-tips-for-tapering-off-lithium/

 

JanCarol and I have been quite the talkers about lithium in our own threads, if you want to look them up. She also was awakening at night with kidney side effects which resolved as the dose went down.

 

This isn't really a "switch to other meds" site. You might want to check out www.psycheducation.org. It's written by a conventional psychiatrist, but I have been impressed by his work.

 

Dr. Kelly Brogan will soon have a book out entitled A Mind of Her Own, and she blogs at www.kellybroganmd.com.

 

I have learned a lot about the normal action of lithium at nancymullanmd.com. When she discusses it, she is talking about the normal amounts that every body needs

 

God luck as you research and plan!

1st round Prozac 1989/90, clear depression symptoms. 2nd round Prozac started 1999 when admitted to dr. I was tired. Prozac pooped out, switch to Cymbalta 3/2006. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to mania 6/2006--then I was taken abruptly off Cymbalta and didn't know I had SSRI withdrawal. Lots of meds for my intractable "bipolar" symptoms.

Zyprexa started about 9/06, mostly 5mg. Tapered 4/12 through12/29/12

Wellbutrin. XL 300 mg started 1/07, tapered 1/18/13 through 7/8/13

Oxazepam mostly continuously since 6/06, 30mg since 12/12, tapered 1.17.14 through 8.26.15

11/06 Lithium 600mg twice daily, 2.2.14 400mg TID DIY liquid, 2.12.14 1150mg, 3.2.14 1100mg, 3.18.14 1075mg, 4/14 updose to 1100mg, 6.1.14 900 mg capsules 7.8.14 810mg, 8.17.14 725mg, 8.24.24 700mg...10.22.14 487.5mg, 3.9.15 475mg, 4.1.15 462.5mg 4.21.15 450mg 8.11.15 375mg, 11.28.15 362.5mg, back to 375mg four days later, 3.4.16 updose to 475 (too much going on to risk trouble)

9/4/13 Toprol-XL 25mg daily for sudden hypertension, tapered 11.12.13 through 5.3.14, last 10 days or so switched to atenolol

7.4.14 Started Walsh Protocol

56 years old

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Maskbipolar and welcome to s/a,

 

I moved your post to the intro forum so more people will see it.  This will be your personal thread for recording your tapering progress and asking any questions you may have.  I'm glad you are here where there is lots of support and info.

 

Had you ever been on any other psychiatric medications?  I'm asking in case you are one of those who was (mis)diagnosed bipolar cause the doctor didn't recognise w/d symptoms for what they were. 

 

There is info and discussion of experiences at Tips for tapering Lithium and also info on Bridging.

 

I have very little knowledge of bridging, but it says in that link that being on both drugs for longer than two weeks can cause the original drug to need careful tapering, as your system has had time to adapt to having both at once.   

 

Hopefully one of the other mods has more knowledge of this for you.  Meanwhile could you fill in a signature so we can see your details easily whenever you post?  Thanks. 

 

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Moderator

Welcome Mask - 

 

I've been having frequent nighttime awakening to go to the restroom

 

Does your doctor check your liver and kidney functions?  At least twice a year?  Mine was, and still didn't think much of what I call "declined kidney function." She kept reporting that my functions were "fine" - but I was suffering.   It improved immensely as I tapered my lithium, and is now practically normal. 

 

While I was suffering, I turned to barley water - and liked it so well, I still make it as a tonic (with ginger and turmeric) and enjoy it.  Made a lemony batch last night.  I also add adzuki beans and kombu seaweed to the mix to make it more nutritious.  Here is my original recipe (which I now make adaptations to):

1 cup pearl barley

2 litres filtered water (roughly, quarts)

rind of 1 lemon

rind of 2 oranges

brown sugar to taste (about 2-4 tbsp)

juice of 4 lemons

Juice of 4 oranges 

(last night I used 2 limes, 2 lemons)

 

Rinse the barley, bring water to boil.  Add barley to water, when boils, reduce and simmer 40 minutes.

 

Zest the citrus rind and set aside, juice the citrus and put in fridge.

 

When barley is boiled, strain, discard the barley (i give mine to hubby for his cereal, any he doesn't use goes out to the bird feeder for the critters)

While liquid is still hot, add citrus rind and sugar, stir well.

 

Leave to cool.  When it's cool enough, stir in the citrus juice.  Strain to discard the rind and any messy pulp or seeds from the citrus.  Refrigerate.

 

Makes 2 litres.

 

Drink 1 cup a day.  Kidneys will thank you.

 

I also agree with you that I lost a lot of IQ points on the lithium.  Prior to lithium, I could read medical articles - you know - NiMH studies and PubMed and parse out what they were saying.  I can no longer do that.  Maybe it's about interest and attention - but that is something I was able to do before the lithium that is now just a bit out of reach for me.

 

IF YOU THINK that Lithium is deadening, wait until you try Depakote.  It is doping, sedating, more so than the lithium.  Lithium is "flattening," but the depakote is downright stupifying by comparison.  At least in my experience.

 

Though I can cite some rat studies that say valproate/depakote is what they give to rat mothers in order to induce autistic-like symptoms in their rat babies....(even though rats don't really have autism, that's a human condition).  And - depakote is the same as lithium, in that you need to continue having blood tests to make sure it isn't damaging your liver. 

 

Here's the thing:  if you read my thread http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/5234-jancarol-reboxetine-first-then-lithium you will hear me say, "I'm terrified of manic, I don't ever want to be manic again, I'm frightened that coming off of the lithium I will go manic and wreck my life."  Over time, as I slowly tapered (10% or less per month) and the lights started coming on in my brain again, and I started caring about things in new ways - I realized - I am not the same person who went on the lithium 12 years ago.

 

AND - at no time did ANY psychiatrist EVER ask me:  why do you think you went manic?  What was the situation which caused your mania?  In retrospect, I can see that the most extreme manias - one documented, one undocumented - were reactions to being released from severe oppression and depression.  Huge environmental, situational impacts.  This sounds like it's part of your story, too.

 

Additionally, if you were on any antidepressants when you "flipped" to mania - that would be a side effect of those drugs - not your "native state" at all.

 

Am I bipolar?  I dunno.  Do I need that name to define who I am?  I don't think so.  I'm learning to manage my mood on very little lithium.

 

If I were you, I'd do a gradual, 10% taper of the lithium, and take it down as low as possible.  Just reduce it, and maybe you will find you can - using other strategies - manage your mood on half, or even 1/4 the dose that you are using now.  Look at the http://www.psycheducation.org website, to see what other tools you can use to manage your mood.  Light, dark, sleep, wake - he even has an article on low-dose lithium.

 

See:  Why taper by 10% of my dosage? and Non Drug Techniques for Coping with Emotional Symptoms

 

Please complete your signature with your drug history, so that wherever you post, we will be able to identify your issues more quickly and accurately.   Is lithium the only drug you've ever been on?  (if so, that would be rare, especially in the USA)  Please tell us what drugs you were on, any switches or changes in doses, and how long you've been on them.

 

 How to complete your Signature

 

Complete your Signature from Phone or Tablet

 

As MeiMei said, this is a site for reducing or coming off medications.  I do not recommend bridging, especially not to depakote, nor to any of the "antipsychotics" they are so fond of giving to "bipolars."  

 

If you are dissatisfied with your p-doc, you can look for other practitioners here:  Recommended doctors, practitioners and clinics

 

MTHFR is not a "mutation," as 40% of the population have it.  It is a variance, which may mean that your metabolizing of the drugs is different to what the drug manufacturers intend.  But then - did they really design the drugs for our well being? Please read Robert Whitakers, "Anatomy of an Epidemic" for the answer.

 

Again, welcome, please let us know what you decide to do.

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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Hi I had a bipolar diagnosis that was wrong I took both lithium 1000th and epilim 1000mg which is also sod vapor ate I r depakite I reduced first lithium over 6 months and then epilim over next 6 mon g gs and with each reduction just felt better had some days of being very active but it soon settled it is worth a go I ended up doubly incontinent on that drug combination

 

Back to 20 mg at some point

22/3/18 down to 19.8 mg and feeling well

31/3/18 down to 19.6 mg and feeling well

14/4/18 down to 19.4 mg

05/5/18 down to 19.2 mg and feeling well

14/5/18 kicked out of my marital home/marriage/family unexpectedly when son took over farm

During many hospitalisations for shock/stress put on

1mg lorazepam prn

50mg quetiapine night for sleep

40 mg citalopram

10/01/2021  stopped taking quetiapine totally after a slow taper

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Thanks everyone.  I'm gong to look at some of the links that you suggested.  I wasn't specifically wanting to switch meds but because of the constant urination and the need to taper off lithium really slowly I was just wondering if that might be helpful but from I'm hearing I probably want to stay far from the Depakote.  I had 2 manic episodes.  The first was after 1 month of no sleeping when I had a UTI and after going to an intense workshop where I got in touch with a lot of parts of myself I hadn't allowed myself to have because I tried to be a people pleaser and 'perfect' all the time.   I was manic at the time, and they kept injecting me with Haldol because I refused to take meds and was treated horribly at the hospital.

 

The 2nd manic episode came around 5-6 months after I stopped taking Abilify and was on a low dose of Lithium.  My manic episodes were all about me expressing some of the things I hadn't allowed myself to express- kind of like a spiritual awakening as I was dancing around the psych unit and being more free.  But I definitely was't in my right mind, although I wonder how much of it was the Haldol and stuff that they gave me. I later discovered that I am very sensitive to gluten and stuff but no one ever wondered about the fact that my bipolar could have had a connection with PMS.  I think my hormones were off 5 years ago and are still off, I'm going to an endocrinologist today to check that out but even now my sleep and mood totally change around my cycle.

 

I've found these FB groups where people do all kinds of natural testing etc and as much as I understand some of it, there is a lot that I have no patience to read because of the lithium.  So whatever suggestions you have for tapering, especially without a lot of support from family would be great.

 

Thank you!

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Hi 

 

I had my first manic episode after doing the Hoffman Process (which I recommend to no-one) it was all about accepting the abuse your parents inflicted on you and then forgiving them for it. I think it was the confusion and conflict this course caused that sent me into the bin, though the cocaine and alcohol contributed, as of course did my prior life history.

 

I also experienced illness before my episodes but that is to be expected when you don't sleep as your immune system is unable to cope.  I worry about my sleep constantly now as I know how it correlates to an episode.  

Olanzapine 10mg  Dec 2007 - Jun 2008

Olanzapine 10mg Sep 2009 - Apr 2010

Olanzapine 10mg Aug 2010 - April 2011

Olanzapine 10mg Jan 2012 - Jun 2012

Lithium 800mg Jun 2012 - Dec 2013

Lorazapam 1mg Nov 2012 - Dec 2013

Diazepam 2mg Nov 2012 - Dec 2013

Olanzapine 20mg Jan 2014 to May 2014

Olanzapine 5mg May 2014 - May 2015

tapering 0.1mg every 7 days

 

1mg melatonin

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  • Moderator

Hey Mask - 

You wrote:

 

Thanks everyone.  I'm gong to look at some of the links that you suggested.  I wasn't specifically wanting to switch meds but because of the constant urination and the need to taper off lithium really slowly I was just wondering if that might be helpful but from I'm hearing I probably want to stay far from the Depakote.  I had 2 manic episodes.  The first was after 1 month of no sleeping when I had a UTI and after going to an intense workshop where I got in touch with a lot of parts of myself I hadn't allowed myself to have because I tried to be a people pleaser and 'perfect' all the time.   I was manic at the time, and they kept injecting me with Haldol because I refused to take meds and was treated horribly at the hospital.

 

The 2nd manic episode came around 5-6 months after I stopped taking Abilify and was on a low dose of Lithium.  My manic episodes were all about me expressing some of the things I hadn't allowed myself to express- kind of like a spiritual awakening as I was dancing around the psych unit and being more free.  But I definitely was't in my right mind, although I wonder how much of it was the Haldol and stuff that they gave me. I later discovered that I am very sensitive to gluten and stuff but no one ever wondered about the fact that my bipolar could have had a connection with PMS.  I think my hormones were off 5 years ago and are still off, I'm going to an endocrinologist today to check that out but even now my sleep and mood totally change around my cycle.

 

I've found these FB groups where people do all kinds of natural testing etc and as much as I understand some of it, there is a lot that I have no patience to read because of the lithium.  So whatever suggestions you have for tapering, especially without a lot of support from family would be great.

 

 

PLEASE please please put the dates and doses of this stuff - as best as you can - in your signature.  This is vitally important - many of your symptoms may be side effects and withdrawal symptoms from your experiences with other drugs - knowing the dates that you were injected and on different drugs is vitally important to considering your situation!

 

Please:  How to complete your Signature

 

Complete your Signature from Phone or Tablet

 

Also you may be interested in http://www.bipolarawakenings.com/ - Sean Blackwell has great information on the spiritual crisis and how it relates to what gets diagnosed as "bipolar."  You were probably resolving an inner conflict with your emotional state, when you got medicated - and that damps down the process - making it more chronic and more difficult to heal.

 

You can do this.    Please read the links I've given you so far, please post your signature so that any mod understands your plight from any post you make.  You will notice the rest of us have detailed information in our signatures.  There's a good reason for that.

 

Be wary (I think you already are) of natural therapies.  They don't understand withdrawal any more than conventional doctors do - and will likely sign you up for harmful detox, or stimulating supplements that will not help you much at all.  They cannot determine the neurotransmitters in your brain from a urine test.  Period.  A urine test shows the neurotransmitters in your urine.  The only way to determine the chemical composition of the brain is post mortem - and I'm sure you don't want that!

 

Let us know what questions you have after you've read on some of the links.

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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