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FoggyP: Went off Lithium, went back on


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I’m Foggy. I’m 29/f/US.



Warnings: talk of constipation and emotional issues

My story of going on, going off, and going on Lithium.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar at 5, I was also being not treated nicely by some people. Put on lithium at about 6. As I got older I started asking for less or none at all but whenever we would start to taper I’d get too stressed and change my mind. But at 12 I was dead set on being off it. I felt like my brain was disappearing and I had to hold onto all the pieces for dear life. I felt like I was trapped on a broken treadmill that would slow down every two seconds and trip me. For whatever ungodly reason, the tapering was done at a snail’s pace over years.

At 16 my Wellbutrin was swapped for generics with a constipating metric coating and I had severe problems all of a sudden. I started drinking so much water I kept passing my meds. My meds were being a problem so I got my mom to agree for no more medication at last! Went off everything cold turkey. Right in the middle of a very hot and very stressful Junior year. I had panic attacks, I was constantly on the verge of them. At first the constipation lessened. Then i felt a tightness all over my body that would not leave. Poop stopped half a foot up my body always in the same uncomfortable spot, instead of making a full circuit to be defecated. I experienced constipation that would go on for months at a time. The only cure in the world was walking, but every week, sometimes every day, I had to walk longer to poop. I started walking for 10-20+ miles. Pooping became my ******* life. About 4 years of youth were wasted on walking/running. I thought this would be my life. Doctors would not help my condition; all they would talk about was whether or not I had an eating disorder probably due to my over-exercising. My mom kept suggesting I go back on lithium because all this started when I went off it.

Then I went on it again. One day while heading downstairs to the family treadmill I had to and I pooped....without any walking right beforehand. I had made an almost complete recovery from this illness that felt like nothing could fix. Lithium made me too dizzy upon first taking to continue exercising anyway. I started crouching in my room and doing yoga and eventually I didn’t even have to do that either.


THAT WASN’T NORMAL. I think my body got not only addicted but accustomed to compensating for lithium’s tenancy to relax muscles and becoming tighter. Lithium  makes me incontinent sometimes as it makes me so loose. I’m pretty sure I had a tight pelvic floor.

I’ve been condemned. I don’t want to be on lithium but I might be on it for the rest of my life because I took it for so long.

Was it a coincidence? Withdrawals shouldn't last that long, should they? 


I would right now rather be on lithium and live a half-life than experience what I did those years and have no life. Ugh.


Tips on how to go off it for the long term this time? Somehow make it more gentle to my body and make my body adjust?

Edited by manymoretodays
Clarification and typos, added name to title(mmt)
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I need to shorten and clarify my post but I can’t edit it right now.


also worth noting is that I lost all my bipolar symptoms when I was 13 and hit puberty, so that’s not a concern now.

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  • manymoretodays changed the title to FoggyP: Went off Lithium, went back on
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Welcome to SA, FoggyP.


We have had a number of members who were drugged as children, tapered off their drugs as adults and went on heal and have good lives.  So it's not hopeless.  It's also not hopeless because you've been on the lithium for so long.  Again, we've had members who were on their drug for many, many years, then very slowly tapered off and, again, are leading good lives.


To answer one of your questions, yes, withdrawal can go on for many, many years.


Should you decide to go off the lithium, we have lots of information on how to do that.  We recommend tapering no more than 10% of current dose every four weeks.


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


An alternate method is 4 weekly 2 1/2% reductions followed by a two-week hold. It is a little slower but gentler.


The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Micro-tapering


A micro-taper is the gentlest way to come off these drugs. 


Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases


The following link is specifically about tapering lithium, including how to get the nonstandard doses you'll need for your taper.


Tips for tapering off lithium


We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.


Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Feb. 25, 2023 2mg

Taper is 89% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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