Depression Before and After Effective Medication.

Quick Intro

Firstly I just want to say a massive thank you to all you wonderful bloggers who offered so much support yesterday after I wrote of feeling depressed again. I’m blown away by how many lovely people are out there! (Funnily enough, those of you who are Bipolar often seem to think the exact opposite!) I think the well-wishing has lifted me a lot as I feel a bit better today. So thank you! I hope I can return the favour!

I’m writing this with the TV on as it is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee today- 60 years as the monarch. I’m not really a royalist (although last year’s Royal Wedding was wonderful), but I do feel I ought to make some sort of effort to find out what’s going on! (I did see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in our city about 10 years ago, opening our library, and it did surprise me how special it felt, even to someone who’s not usually bothered by these things!)

Depression & Medication

After 10 years of trying out various mood stabilisers, my psychiatrist finally found my wonder-drug, Lamotrigine (Lamictal) about 2-3 years ago.

This is a fairly new addition to the mood stabiliser family, having previously been used for epilepsy (so interesting this connection between anticonvulsant drugs for epilepsy having success in treating Bipolar too). This mood stabiliser is known for success in prevention of depression, but has little effect on mania and hypomania (a good thing if you love your highs!).

Like most medication treatments, it doesn’t completely annihilate the symptoms, as demonstrated by my current mood dip. But I did want to outline the vast improvement I have noticed in my depressive episodes:

Before Lamotrigine: 

– Long depressive episodes, usually lasting months (longest episode was over a year when I was first diagnosed, so before helpful medication had been found).

– Really intense feelings of despair, hopelessness, severe guilt. A real feeling that nothing would ever get better, ever, ever.

– Nothing could lift my mood, even temporarily. Constant, constant, greyness, doom.

– Intense social anxiety about talking to people/answering the phone/door. I would panic if the doorbell or phone rang, and physically hide. Impossible to interact with others.

– Complete withdrawal and retreat from the world.

– Strong suicidal thoughts and impulses to self-harm. Near to acting on them/ did once.

– Strong, extremely uncomfortable agitation and restlessness.

– Very poor concentration, reading impossible.

After Lamotrigine:

– Much, much shorter episodes. My worst episode whilst on this drug was late last year, and lasted 5 weeks, with residual symptoms tapering out over the next week or two.

– The feelings of despair/hopelessness/guilt have been much more fleeting and less intense, don’t get me wrong, they’re still extremely unpleasant, but in no way as debilitating as before.

– My mood lifts much more often with good friends/family/dogs/films/music; not all the way, but I definitely get more relief than I ever did before.

– The social anxiety is much less severe and I am still able to interact with people, still anxious about this, but certainly not as intense and debilitating.

– Able to carry on with activities like choir/spiritual development group. I’m just usually a lot quieter, not my usual bubbly self.

– The suicidal thoughts are still present, but I don’t feel half as likely to act on them. (perhaps this is a bit of experience too, I know these thoughts will go away, I have better coping strategies).

– No agitation or restlessness experienced on this drug as yet. This is fantastic as it was so uncomfortable!

My most severe depressive symptom now seems to be psychomotor retardation/physical and mental slowness. This can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as it makes me rest!! I can certainly cope with this better than the intense, relentless despair and agitation before treatment. I still find reading difficult though 😦

Counting My Blessings 

Blogger Mountain Missy’s post: The Man With No Worries on Friday has reminded me about gratitude and how helpful it can be to “count our blessings” and focus our thoughts on the positive, rather than the negative. So here I go:

I have never expected to be 100% cured. I am currently satisfied with how things are going for me. I have been lucky to have success with Bach Flower Remedies which seem to help ease any residual symptoms- low self esteem/confidence/panic attacks/chronic anxiety/healing from past trauma etc. I feel the swings are better controlled.

I am also lucky in having a very laid-back partner who doesn’t react when my mood swings and doesn’t worry about me too much (unless I’m very depressed). Sometimes having people who over-react to mood swings and worry excessively can really be unhelpful because you then feel guilty for affecting them!

So despite my current mood dip, I am in a far better place than I have been in the past. I know I can challenge the negative thoughts where I couldn’t before, I know it will go away, I don’t feel suicidal and I trust that I can handle this. I’m also not working which is a complete blessing as I know I would be worse off otherwise!

Catherine of Life in Recovery also reminded me yesterday that I have my lovely dog to help lift my mood too! So easy to forget to be grateful for the smiles she can bring to my face.

(Dog below not mine, but very cute!)

Photo Credits: Medication by rutty; Man Under Duvet by David Castello Dominici; Intelligent Dog by Free Digital Photos; Rainbow by zirconicusso

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7 thoughts on “Depression Before and After Effective Medication.

  1. Shelly

    I take Lamotrigine also…I consider it a wonder drug! The first mood stabilizer I was on was Tegretol…I ended up in a deep depression with much suicidal ideation followed by rapid/mixed cycling. It could have been a combo of the drug & the alternative medicine herbs like SAMe and St. John’s Wort and homeopathic lithium…I quit those things and was weaned off Tegretol at the same time the Lamotrigine was added. It took over 6 months but I’ve been relatively stable with a mood score of 7 or 8 the majority of days (1-10 scale, 1=worst, 10=best…high anxiety/hypomania as well as depression cause the rating to go down). I’m interested in the Bach Flower Remedies that you talk about. Can you let me know more about it? I’m glad you are feeling a tad better. Just having people know and try to understand helps with one’s mood.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Tegretol was my first mood stabiliser too, but it made me really nauseous, so I switched to lithium after that, then depakote! Been on them all!! Depakote worked but made me really tired and hungry. Lamotrigine has been by far the best. Only real side effects seem to be a dry mouth and my hair has gone wavy- it used to be dead straight.

      The Bach Flower Remedies are a natural therapy I’ve had success with. They treat the emotions, rather than physical symptoms directly- though through emotional healing, physical symptoms can be reduced. You can read more on my page about them:

      https://rachelmiller1511.wordpress.com/bach-flower-remedies-2/

      I’ve gone into quite a detailed account of which remedies are good for which symptoms. There are loads of links there too. Hope this helps!!

      Rachel
      xxx

      Reply
  2. projectwhitespace

    Rachel, sounds like you had it really bad before these drugs–a full YEAR of feeling like you explained sounds like hell, literally. I am so glad you finally found a drug that can help you, even if it doesn’t work 100%, if you can function in society and feel halfway decent, then I think you found a good one. And yes, having the right partner who doesn’t freak out about your mood swings is so essential. If you feel bad for affecting your partner (feel guilty), then it can take you even lower (I know because I’ve been there). So, I am happy for that too. That is truly a blessing and can make all the difference 🙂
    Cute dog picture, yes, even if he’s not your border collie. 🙂

    Reply
  3. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    Thanks so much. It’s funny because I don’t often think about those times and I have blocked a lot of memories out from then. Hearing you say it must have been a tough time kind of makes me think “you know, it really was hell and I am so strong to have gone through that.” I think I’ve done really well! Thanks for helping me think that!

    I hope you’re not experiencing anything so terrifying!

    Hope you’re having a good day.

    Rachel
    xxx

    Reply
    1. projectwhitespace

      I’m not experiencing anything so terrifying. I’m so glad for that. And yes, you really are strong having gone through all that and come out on the other side. My mom also struggled with loooooong term depression (she tried committing suicide when I was 14) and she also came out on the other side. I often think about how strong she is to have gone through all that and still be here, and be happy now. You have strong hearts. 🙂

      Reply
  4. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    That must have been extremely tough for your family to go through. I guess we all grow through these things together. I’m glad your mom is OK now and that you’ve never had to experience it yourself.

    Rachel
    xx

    Reply

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