The Question of Lithium

Ever since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (or manic depression as it was known way back in the dark ages of mental illness diagnoses) I’ve been running as fast as my fat little legs would carry me in the opposite direction of all kinds of prescribed chemical treatments, from Zoloft and Prozac to a massive range of other unpronounceable mood-altering concoctions that medical and psychiatric professionals were only too happy to prescribe faster than my lovely round bottom could settle into their comfy sofa chairs, the scariest of the lot being Lithium, which is an alkali metal said to increase the synthesis of serotonin and decrease the release of noradrenaline and is somehow designed to make my loopy messed up brain happier. One aspect of my bipolarity that has never been taken into consideration by anyone is that my attitude to these totally zombifying treatments is at the opposite pole of professional attitudes to treatment, making the entire treatment concept a bipolar one, and not just an unwelcome illness residing inside my own twisted mind. An addled brain filled with introduced heavy metals (not counting Iron Maiden and Metallica) was never one of my highest goals in life. However, recently I had an experience that caused me to pause and think about the idea of lithium as a viable solution for a moment longer. Maybe, just maybe, lithium isn’t so bad as a treatment for my Bipolar Disorder, after all.

People who know me well at this point will be asking, “Where is the real Roni, and what have you done with her body?” It’s true that I’m not the kind of person who would double back on my own convictions and give up a lifelong battle just like that. You don’t fight against something with full claws out for so long just to prance daintily up to the chopping block like a lamb to slaughter, ready to be converted into neat little chops shaped by the hands of others. But this has now become a perspective issue. Maybe, for all these depression-riddled moody rollercoaster-riding years, I’ve been looking at the whole Lithium Question from the wrong angle.

On a trip back home from home – which takes me half way around the globe and all the way across the Pacific Ocean (twice) – while staying with some friends in Los Angeles, I visited a local adult shop to replace my big-girl version of Buzz Lightyear. The old one had thrown in the towel many months previously and fun toys like that are not so readily available out in the boonies of South America. In fact, adult stores in Latin America are as rare as men who don’t urinate in the streets. Culturally speaking, women are supposed to hook up with aforementioned men (and be happy about it!). Ugh! Give me a latex lover over a Latin lover any day. While I was in the store, the friendly salesgirl pointed out a few different multi-speed models based on my specifications and then proudly announced with a big smile, “These ones run on lithium batteries. You’ll get a lot more happy miles out of them!” Really? A light bulb popped over my head. Lithium. To treat bipolar depression. OF COURSE!

If all those therapists had been prescribing this kind of lithium as medication, instead of trying to convince me to fill my body internally with toxic metals, I probably wouldn’t have fled quite so quickly. It couldn’t be simpler, could it? Buzzing myself to bliss, a couple of well-chosen lithium battery-powered appliances have the potential to make a world of difference to how I’m feeling. Buzz Lightyear Mark II was an instant hit. Oh yeah! He made me very happy! In fact, if he hadn’t been powered by lithium, he’d probably have melted from exhaustion with dead double As and burned out pinions (just like the last one).

Then of course, lithium has a multitude of other uses to whip my bipolarity back into its place. I mean, one does have to get out and about from time to time, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on one’s skin, listen to waves break on the beach. Armed with a lithium battery-powered camera, I can now go outside the house and feel good too. I love to take photos. Here’s the thing: over the years, I have found that doing things I enjoy helps me to feel good. Taking photos is great fun! Then, there’s the lithium-powered cordless drill option. My inner-carpenter can buzz her way to bliss with her clothes on and make home improvements at the same time. Apparently, there are even cars and motorbikes that run on lithium. I love to drive, it’s relaxing. What better way to beat Bipolar Disorder than to whack in some lithium and rev it up? The choices are unlimited! All kinds of gadgets and toys run on lithium these days. Things have changed a bit since the dark ages.

My attitude to lithium has changed too. When applied externally, I see great potential for lithium not only as a remedy for Bipolar Disorder, but for all kinds of ills that plague modern society. De-stress with lithium! Admittedly, I have not done any personal studies on the side effects of externally administered lithium treatments – and since I’m the only subject at this point in time, I doubt any recorded results would be considered objective or conclusive. However, from my experience, I can say that lithium has certainly made a difference to my mood swings and levels of happiness. It’s just probably not quite what all those therapists I’ve seen over the years were expecting me to do. So, I’m off… to Al’s Toy Barn… and beyond…

This entry was posted in Bipolar Disorder, Books, Depression, PTSD, Self-Help, Survival. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Question of Lithium

  1. Sam Watkins says:

    Lithium in trace amounts is associated with lower rates of suicide, homicide, crime, and mental illness. Westerners eat a lot of refined NaCl salt, which causes lithium and other trace salts to be lost from the body. It’s better for us to have a little lithium in the diet, and not so much refined salt, rather than a great whopping “therapeutic dose” when we lose our minds.

    I figured out that trace lithium is helpful myself back in my teens when I had “manic depression”, it’s good to see that theory confirmed by some science (see the link):

    I found that I can go a long time without any meds, but after many months I sometimes start to feel stressed and unstable, and a small amount of lithium seems to help with that. But no way would I voluntarily take >250mg / day like the shrinks would have me, ugh. There’s a special circle of hell reserved for bad psychiatrists in my world view.

  2. Reblogged this on Veronica The Pajama Thief and commented:
    Lithium can be a girl’s best friend. ;-)

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