The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

K.R.Jamison’s “Rules for the Gracious Acceptance of Lithium into Your Life”

This is taken from her excellent book “An Unquiet Mind”.  I’m almost finished with it and so far it has been very affirming and entertaining.  It reads well and I sincerely recommend that anyone who has Bipolar Disorder or suspects themselves of it gets a copy.

 

Rules for the Gracious Acceptance of Lithium into Your Life

 

  1. Clear out the medicine cabinet before guests arrive for dinner or new lovers stay the night.
  2. Remember to put the lithium back into the cabinet the next day.
  3. Don’t be too embarrassed by your lack of coordination or your inability to do well the sports you once did with ease.
  4. Learn to laugh about spilling coffee, having the palsied signature of an eighty-year-old, and being unable to put on cuff links in less than ten minutes.
  5. Smile when people joke about how they think they “need to be on Lithium”.
  6. Nod intelligently, and with conviction, when your physician explains to you the many advantages of lithium in leveling out the chaos in your life.
  7. Be patient when waiting for this leveling off.  Very patient.  Reread the Book of Job.  Continue being patient. Contemplate the similarity between the phrases “being patient” and “being a patient.”
  8. Try not to let the fact that you can’t read without effort annoy you.  Be philosophical.  Even if you could read, you probably wouldn’t remember most of it anyway.
  9. Accommodate to a certain lack of enthusiasm and bounce that you once had.  Try not to think about all the wild nights you once had.  Probably best not to have had those nights anyway.
  10. Always keep in perspective how much better you are.  Everyone else certainly points it out often enough, and, annoyingly enough, it’s probably true.
  11. Be appreciative.  Don’t even consider stopping your lithium.
  12. When you do stop, get manic, get depressed, expect to hear two basic themes from your family, friends and healers:
    • But you were doing so much better, I just don’t understand it.
    • I told you this would happen.
  13. Restock your medicine cabinet.

 

This is a fair microcosmic example of the book’s composition.  Truths, sardonic truths, hard truths and a good dose of realistic outcomes.

 

I have no experience of lithium, but a few of these are relevant to Seroquel XL.

 

All the best,

H&J

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28 comments on “K.R.Jamison’s “Rules for the Gracious Acceptance of Lithium into Your Life”

  1. sarcasticsprkle
    22/06/2014

    I like your blog because I do not have bipolar but I knew someone who does and they do not (and refuse) to properly treat themselves. Their life is a mess and what’s worse is she has kids being impacted by her lack of taking her medication.

    I think it’s great you encourage people not to be scared. Were all different – someone always knows someone with something. Or someone has some ailment themselves. They don’t define you which I think you make really clear. Good work

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      22/06/2014

      Hey sparkle.

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment here. I really appreciate the encouragement and kind words.

      It’s a real shame about your friend but sadly it isn’t an isolated incident. Further on in the book that this post is about, Jamison describes a man who simply refused to stay on his medication seen in the emergency room every few months before eventually self-destructing.

      I’m one of the “one in four” and you’re right, there are plenty more out there. Keeping the discussion flowing is the best way for us to whittle away at the stigma and nonsense surrounding these illnesses.

      Thanks for being part of the discourse 🙂

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  2. Johnny Ojanpera
    22/06/2014

    This really is a great book. It helped me become more comfortable with my treatment knowing that it was from a psychiatrist’s point of view, and not only someone with bipolar or only a doctor. I have bought this book five times to give to family and friends so they might understand me a little better. Thanks for posting it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      22/06/2014

      Hey man,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and join in the discussion here 🙂 I appreciate you sharing your story and lending weight to the book in a way that I couldn’t. I hope that between us we earn K.R.J a few more readers!

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  3. chinaskie
    22/06/2014

    I’ve been on Lithium for 4 years. Was diagnosed bipolar mixed states in 2010. My dose is lower than most, but I do have a very slight tremor, and I can say with confidence that I am slower day to day and I am an expert at dropping keys. I have to monitor fluid intake and always make sure I’m super hydrated. I also think it affected my blood pressure – it’s lower than it used to be. And there’s my thyroid – I never had an issue with it in my life until I went on lithium. I’ve been taking synthroid for hypothyroidism for as long as I’ve been on it.

    I can’t say I am glad I’m on it, but I also don’t know what I’d be like off it…

    Liked by 2 people

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      The worst side effect of all comes from NOT taking our meds. I.e – Being in the grip of a deadly illness.

      I’ve read enough horror stories that I hope to god I’m smart enough to stay medicated. The nightmare scenario of my meds losing their efficacy if I go off them and try to re-engage with them is enough to frighten me right now.

      I suppose the hand-eye sacrifice is bearable for all of us who AREN’T S.A.S snipers 🙂 It’s better than powerful psychoses.

      I’m glad you’re on it, even if you’re not 🙂

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  4. Jeff Marsh
    22/06/2014

    G’day H&J. I like your prose, it’s witty and enlightening, and easy to read. I, too, have bipolar, and a few of other little personality affective anomalies. I’m on both Quetiapine (Seroquil) and Lithium, among others.

    I can assure you that you should definitely stow the Quetiapine, lest your guests want the whole ecstasy/unconsciousness trip, and the Lithium can stay wherever, it’s really not a threat to anybody else except the BAD who forgets take it..

    I find that talking openly, like you do here, about our bipolar, especially depression, shows others suffering in silence that dealing with a mental illness is no different than treating any other chronic illness. If that means your Lithium is discovered, or you need to explain why your reading glasses now hang round your neck :), so be it…

    Just my two bobs worth, champion. Keep up the great work….

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      Hey Jeff,

      Thank you very much for the kind words and for taking the time to comment here. With the dose of Seroquel I’m on – anyone taking my meds would wake up two days later wondering where they are, haha. I’m not on lithium (yet).

      I’ve yet to be totally ‘out’ about my illness. Most of my family and friends know about it, but there’s a little part of me that thinks “Really, this is MY business, not the general public’s”. I’ll probably be at ‘shit or get off the pot’ time soon though. I’m either advocating openness about these diseases or I’m not, I suppose.

      Thanks again for the generous complements! I hope I can continue to entertain.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  5. rabbiadar
    22/06/2014

    Love your blog. I have a son who wrestles with bipolar and mostly does it with great grace. It is a big help to have windows like the one you offer into the experience, so that I can be more help and less trouble to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      Hello and thank you for taking the time to comment here 🙂

      The best advice I could give is to read the book that this post is about. It gives a very clear and accurate picture of the disease from the point of view of a sufferer.

      I’m sure you’re not seen as a trouble by your son. The unconditional love of a parent is what keeps a lot of us wanting to remain sane.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

      • rabbiadar
        23/06/2014

        I have the book and have read and re-read it – am delighted to find out that you find it useful and on point.

        Like

        • drheckleandmrjibe
          23/06/2014

          You’re way ahead of me 🙂 I’m not surprised.

          I’ve loved the book so far and you’re the second person who has mentioned re-reading it. I think I’ll make an appointment with Jamison in a few months and see if anything else rattles loose in my brain 🙂

          If your son ever wants a confidential/anonymous ear to bend – send him onto here to email me or send him to the Skype Support Initiative page linked to in the menu. There’s usually someone online.

          All the best,
          H&J

          Like

  6. hellokalykitty
    22/06/2014

    Am definitely interested in reading this book now. I have only been diagnosed for about six months, and on meds for one. I am on lamicatal , not lithium, but I think the book would still be insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      It really helps you get a useful perspective on things like mania, very quickly. I now view my mania as a dangerous addiction, just like coce or heroin. It helps me overcome the old thought patterns of ‘God, I miss my highs’.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  7. aeramoure
    23/06/2014

    Hi!

    I’m glad you liked the book. I’ve been reccommending it for a while now. It’s brutally honest and beautifully written. At least for me. I relate to it because of my dream to go into psychiatry.

    Great tips too!

    Yours truly,

    Aeramoure

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      I’d love to go into psychiatry/psychology. Anywhere where I could help people more directly. I don’t think I’d survive university though, I would kick against it too much. I’ll stick to WordPress 🙂

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

      • aeramoure
        23/06/2014

        Believe me, the college life might be a struggle, but it’s a good one. That said, if the struggle bus is not for you, wordpress by all means. 😛

        Like

        • drheckleandmrjibe
          23/06/2014

          I CANNOT be faced with getting fed through the educational meat grinder. Paying through my nose to learn at a snail’s pace whilst being condescended to by a lifetime student. My experience of further education hasn’t been good, and knowing the levels of bureaucracy and old-boy-ism to be increasing rather than decreasing – I would probably get kicked out of university for an outburst at some point. It’s as much a failing on my part as the culture of further education but it isn’t something I’m willing to change in me.

          WP it is 😛

          All the best,
          H&J

          Like

          • aeramoure
            23/06/2014

            Oh yeah. Nearly getting kicked out. Outbursts. Bureaucracy. Yeah my experience with that hasn’t been too great either.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Kay Jamison is great to read, she’s in an unique position to see both sides. She has a couple of books. I think at least one after that. I’ve taken lith for 30+ years so I’ve forgotten the beginning days. I do know it can still make me tremor, it’s not that entertaining to me while trying to eat. The key for me, if my tremors get worse or I taste something metallic, it’s time for a lith level test. I used to have them done every 3-4 months. Now It’s probably 2 a year. I’m down to 450mg, when over 900mg I could feel more effects. Have a great day. 🙂

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment. Right now I’m not on Lithium, quetiapine is keeping my worst symptoms in check and whilever it’s not broken, I’m not going to go fixing it.

      It sounds great that you’ve got your dose tweaked and medication organised. We don’t hear enough of the success stories! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  9. unevenjenn
    23/06/2014

    My med cocktail used to include both Lithium and Seroquel XL together. I take Geodon now but I’m still taking lithium. My only side effect is the tremor but I can’t write. Signing my name is interesting.. I only take 900mg. At one time lithium saved me but I wonder all the time if I could just go with Lamictal now. I’m all for reducing the amount of meds I take!! LOL

    I really liked this post. I did start reading Jamison’s book at one time but never finished. I might pick it up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      Please do 🙂 Her experiences are specific to Lithium a lot of the time, so it may help with your decision making on the meds.

      If you go with Lamictal be really careful and look out for the skin complaints that can happen with it. I read a nurse’s blog the other day talking about how she quit the job because she was blamed for huge sheets of skin just falling off of one of her junior patients – even though it’s a recorded, rare side effect of the drug.

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to come and comment here, you’re always welcome back 🙂 I appreciate having a wide range of people involved in the discussions and you’re the only reader who has said they take Geodon so far.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  10. glenn2point0
    23/06/2014

    I read the book in 2012 and Kay writes well of her experiences. It may be time for me to reread as the Bipolar is far more stabilized now than it was back then (I was only only a low dosage)..

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/06/2014

      I get the feeling that, as you suggest, I’ll benefit from re-reading this as ‘phases’ of my integration with living with the illness end and begin.

      Like

  11. Lisbeth Coiman
    23/06/2014

    I read that book too, and I enjoyed it a lot. Never taking lithium, but a cocktail of antidepressants and antipsychotic and can relate to changes in behavior and people commenting. Great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/06/2014

      I’ve not been on Lithium (yet) but I found most of the book incredibly relevant too. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

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