Officially been on lamotrigine for a week now, and it’s been an interesting one. The 16 hour coma I went through on my second day was seemingly a one-off which is a relief given the claims I’ve had from followers here and over on Twitter saying that they were practically comatose for their first week on the medication. I’ve had headaches and blurry vision, as well as periods of feeling spaced out. Luckily I’ve had no rashes or anything that I should be worried about, so that’s a good sign.
Over the past few days I’ve broken out in spots, plus I’ve been craving lots of sweet things – which I’ve been satiating rather than abstaining from, which is putting my weight loss in jeopardy but I feel so irritable. Another side effect of these meds is menstrual problems, and I’m wondering if that’s the case. I had a period two weeks ago, so I shouldn’t be having symptoms this soon. I keep feeling down, but not BPD-down, more like PMS down – feeling sad and soppy. I’ll keep an eye on it. I’m going to have to cut down the sugar, otherwise all my work up until now will be for nothing.
I’m feeling positive though. This is the biggest turnaround since I first started on venlafaxine back in 2012 after months of different, failing medications. I spent so long doped up from mirtazipine I don’t actually remember the months I was on it. I either slept or ate, that was it. But when I went onto venlafaxine, it was like waking up from a long period of hibernation. The very next day after starting it I went out with The Ex into town, showered, talked with people, ate something green – it was a transformation.
People who have never had to deal with a chronic mental illness are all too quick to demonise medication and the benefits they clearly have on those that need to take them. The biggest problem we face with meds is the huge amount of trial and error needed in finding what works for us. Sometimes we find just that one pill that makes everything a little more balanced, but then there are times when a cocktail of different pills is required for us to function despite a debilitating condition.
If you have a physical condition that keeps you in pain, you take painkillers, steroids, something to help you sleep through it at night. You might even need physical therapy if it impacts your movement. People around you are pleased with your progress and want nothing more for you than a speedy recovery. When it’s a matter of needing antidepressants, tranquilisers, mood stabilisers like antipsychotics… fixing the body is acceptable, but fixing the mind is still seemingly taboo. Even going through counselling, CBT, DBT, EMDR, psychotherapy, there is such a range available to suit whoever needs it most.
Break a bone? Strap it up, numb the pain, get it moving when you can. Break a mind? Hours of conversations between patient, family, friends and doctors before a treatment path can even be established. There’s no physical sign to follow. And it’s hard for us as well as those treating us.
If I didn’t have medication, I would not get out of bed. I wouldn’t eat, sleep, or function. I’d be constantly trying to hurt myself, or worse. My illness has got worse as I’ve got older, and I can accept that. So maybe people should be more willing to accept the fact that I have to take medication – and I’m fine with that, at long last.
I’ve got another week of lamotrigine available to take, I’ll give Dr Nutkins-May a call tomorrow after my shift to get another prescription while I wait for my appointment with the ANP. I hope to have my dosage raised as well as lowering my venlafaxine, before chatting further about whatever therapy plans they have in mind.
I still have the thought in my head that I would love to be referred for art therapy. I’ve heard about how it benefits people with BPD and bipolar disorder – and I don’t just mean this recent trend of colouring books for adults. I never liked colouring in when I was a child, and I’m still not keen now. I know it’s relaxing etc, but I like to create. It gives me focus, calms me down and also gives me a chance to put the noise in my head on paper. Sometimes I draw it out, but other times I rant nonsensically with words, big letters, LOTS of swearing. Dr Eyebrows previously told me about this being an option, but he also told me that DBT was perfect for me before sending me for psychotherapy and never referring me for DBT despite the RAID team at the hospital recommending me for it.
So… I’m very sceptical. But time will tell.