I took lithium for 17 years, and I must admit, it kept me relatively stable, but there were a lot of negative side effects to the drug.
For one, since I started taking it, to the time I got off it, I gained 50 pounds. I believe the drug caused me to gain weight. To put it bluntly, I lost my figure, going from 120 pounds to 170 pounds, a size 6 to a size 18. That’s a lot of weight.
I also developed bad acne. I would get huge cystic pimples on my face. I remember a couple days before my wedding, I developed what looked like a third eye between my two real eyes. I had to go to the dermatologist to have it squeezed before I walked down the aisle. It did recede, but it left a big scar.
And I was always thirsty on lithium.
And oh God, I hated the blood draws. Every couple of months, I’d have to go to the hospital and get pricked. I have scars on the inside of my elbows from all the needles.
My doctor ultimately took me off the drug because I developed lithium-induced diabetes insipidus, a syndrome which is characterized by extreme thirst and frequent urination of severely diluted urine.
My doctor put me on Depakote which I like much better than lithium. On it, I’ve lost 15 pounds and my acne has improved. I’m also less thirsty, but I’ve developed the habit of drinking lots of water. And I have far fewer blood draws.
I did have a love/hate relationship with lithium.
I’m glad I’m off it.
If you’re experiencing negative side effects with lithium, ask your doctor about other major mood stabilizers. They’re out there.
And they just might be for you.
Of course, these other major mood stabilizers also have side effects.
It's a trade-off.
Like everything in life.