Serenity and Lithium: A Saga about Personal Management

So one thing we have all been taught is that in order to manage your Bipolar Disorder, you must be sure to practice good sleep habits. It’s crucial to get adequate sleep to avoid unnecessary irritability, avoid agitation, and prevent potential triggers. Many of us are on meds that either control, conflict with, or conduce our sleep schedules. Another thing we’re taught is to be aware of potential stimulation triggers around you, or to pay attention to your surroundings. We also have the understanding that meds must be taken on schedule and it’s against the BP commandments to fuck around with meds. This is where my story of last weekend begins..

I take 600mg Lithium and 300 mg Seroquel at night before bed, no later than midnight. Then 300mg Lithium and 5mg Abilify during the daytime. Ok so while I usually have my wife on pharm patrol, I went away to a convention this past weekend, where I spent two nights away from home. Of course while I was away, I was on my own to remember to take my pills.

Now let me fill you in on the convention I was at. It was a very large organization of support groups and motivational speakers, discussion panels, an array of activities, and lots of intensely inspiring people, strong emotions, and an impossible amount of interaction- at all hours of the day…AND night. The convention consisted of several hundred members of Alcoholics Anonymous and affiliated groups, and I was in attendance as a guest of a loved one. I can say, while I genuinely enjoyed offering my support, the intensity of the emotional experience was a bit hefty a tab for the Bipolar gal who’s currently in the process of trying to color inside stability lines.

I did take the meds- just not quite as directed- I took half of a Seroquel 2 days in a row, and washed the others down with my 13th cup of coffee (it is AA, after all)- somewhere around 4am. Somehow I managed to be the first one up, at 7am, took more Lithium and Abilify, and I was eager to go absorb the empowered desperation of the first speaker. This went on for the remainder of the weekend.

Little did I know, this convention was triggering my Bipolar Disorder. While I thought I was simply being supportive and gaining new inspirational perspective (and I did), I was actually nourishing my disease. Flashback to October where I was full blown manic in my psychiatrist’s office, with my wife pleading for him to do something about me. We’ve been working on managing my treatment for the last two months. This emotional ambush sent hypomania into overdrive and my brain decided to go numb, race my thoughts around, and offer the gift of crying spells all the way home. This opportunity I wouldn’t have passed up for anything, however, life gave me a nice bitchslap pertaining to my own personal management.

Personal management in those with psychiatric illnesses, such as alcoholism or Bipolar Disorder, is imperative at all times, not just in the comfort of your home or workplace, or while with friends and family. But at all times. This, ironically, is a topic that many speakers touched on in their panels. Words I absorbed but didn’t apply until now. Once I got home, I acknowledged my triggers and made the commitment to get myself back on track, something that is extremely difficult for those with Bipolar to do. I put myself into a dramedy of caffeine, insomnia, and the serenity prayer. I’m still practicing serenity, just washing it down with a reality check and a side of Lithium.
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5 thoughts on “Serenity and Lithium: A Saga about Personal Management

  1. I travel a lot for work and it’s really easy to trigger a manic episode when you move across time zones, get overstimulated, and get thrown off your usual routine and sleep schedule. I take my meds religiously but still get higher than a kite after that combination of factors kicks in.

    • As much as I love to travel, I couldn’t imagine traveling on a regular basis. And then being able to perform tasks for work on top of adjusting to your surroundings. That takes a lot of strength & personal awareness, which is admirable.

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