random“You might have hair loss and weight gain.” The hippy-lady psychiatrist is laid back, unlike any I’d met with before, so I am trying to keep my typical suspicious hostility in check.

“Well, I have a lot of hair and am thin, so maybe that won’t be too bad.”

“The hair loss can be patchy and the weight gain can be massive.”

That brought a rare expressiveness to my catatonically depressed face. I do give her credit for candor.

She continues, “Those are the most common side effects, but they don’t happen to everyone.”

I’m meeting with her at the urging of my analyst and the pleas of my exasperated husband. I’ve been ill this time for months and my suicidal episodes are getting scary.

Asking about the side effect I’d originally been most concerned about, “What about cognitive dysfunction?”

“Yes, you might have some of that, but mostly just little things with language and word-finding.”

Hostility finally takes rein, “My facility with language is my only redeeming quality and the foundation of my graduate work! Add to that, I am pathologically vain!” I’m leaving. There is no way I am taking this medication. My poor husband is going to be terribly disappointed.

She hands me a prescription and asks me to consider it.

Returning home, my husband is not happy, “So, you’d rather be skinny with perfect scores and in bed suicidal? You could be happy and functional! How could that be worse than this? What good is being smart if you never get out of bed?”

He has a point. My brain is too depressed to think rationally.

With a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I’d just learned about this new class of drugs. I decide to do some research on the other medication options.

A bit of Googling and I find one with fewer side effects, Lamictal. No massive weight gain (the original medication had reports of up to 100lbs), no patchy hair loss, but still cognitive dysfunction. Patients rave about its effectiveness, but are candid about their brain freeze.

Reading a post from one happy user, “It is a miracle drug! I have some memory and word issues, but it’s not like I am trying to do graduate work in philosophy or anything!”

Ugh. I am trying to do graduate work in philosophy!

good timesBecause of another very rare side effect, my psychiatrist was initially reluctant to prescribe Lamictal, but she finally conceded to my preference of medication risks. I started it over a year ago. (That time is such a depressive blur that I’m not even sure which month it was.) Slowly but surely, it has been a miracle.

I have some memory flakiness and don’t feel like I have all the brain power I had, but it is worth it.  I am so damn grateful for this medication. I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn and had started it earlier.

When I created this blog, I thought my biography on the About Me page would narrow any readership to people who were whacked in the brain like me. I am not sure how many of you are!

But, if there is one thing that I would love to come out of this writing, it would be for some suicidal person, who is still staying in bed, hating life, and loathing herself, to start to figure out what I needed to figure out.

That even though you think you have to kill yourself because life will never be bearable, know that there are people who were in exactly your position, who believed exactly the same thing, and who are damn grateful they didn’t do it.

That if you do that irritating stuff your doctor tells you to do (therapy, meds, and everything else), you will get better. People live with diabetes, lupus, cancer, and physically painful illnesses, so you aren’t unique for having to learn how to live well with yours.

That you are actually lucky that there are now miraculous drugs that effectively treat your illness. (Your ancestors weren’t so lucky.)

Reading sh*t like that kept me alive while I was suicidal, so I am writing this post for my crazy brain friends who still are.

I’ll try to keep it on a lighter note tomorrow.


Countup: 42 days of sobriety (has anyone noticed I can’t count?)

Countdown: 116 days until I move into my RV.

Auto Mechanics starts in two weeks.

Real estate agent comes tomorrow….


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