Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lithium Flatness (loss of creativity, not liking lithium)

A lot of people seem to not like being on lithium (or some other mood stabilizer).  They say that it ruins their creativity, makes them feel flat or emotionless.

I don't have this problem.  And I propose that there are two reasons for this, which need to work together -

1. Take the lowest dose of lithium or other mood stabilizer that is effective.

2. Make lifestyle changes.

If you think of mania or hypomania as being similar to alcoholism, except that the addiction is to "excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences," whether it be sex or shopping or drugs or whatever your activity of choice is - then you can see how taking a mood stabilizer alone isn't the whole solution.

You have to change your lifestyle.  That is, your activities. If you are an alcoholic and love going to the bar but then start taking a medicine that makes you not able to drink, then you're not going to like that medicine because when you go to the bar you won't experience the same enjoyment as you used to.  The key of course, is to stop going to the bar.

I propose that you can have creativity and lots of emotions and be taking a mood stabilizer, IF you refocus your life on activities that aren't excessive and that don't have painful consequences.

If you can successfully change your lifestyle, then you may even be able to reduce the mood stabilizer.  Ideally, you want to be taking the mood stabilizer at the lowest amount so that you can still feel a wide dynamic of emotions.

Changing your lifestyle is not easy, and could involve major changes like changing a romantic relationship, changing your friends, changing where you live, changing careers, etc.  This is all stressful stuff that by itself could cause your moods to become worse, which is why you might need to see a therapist and a psychiatrist regularly so you can keep your meds adjusted as you go through these changes.

Also, some of your experiences might be rooted in not just brain chemicals gone awry, but they might be the result of environmental problems like trauma, lack of self confidence, difficult relationships, etc. Things that need to be worked through over time, perhaps in therapy.

So the mood stabilizer is just one part of the equation.  It's a big part, but if you aren't committed to making changes, then the mood stabilizer alone might not work.  The good news is that usually a mood stabilizer changes your thoughts enough that it makes it easier for you to slow down and do some self-examining to see what you want your life to look like.  You just have to embrace the opportunity to ask yourself big questions.

I'll leave it to you to come up with the questions that need to be asked.



1. I'm not a doctor, but from personal experience, I would suggest that you might need a higher dose of lithium or mood stabilizer at first, but that after you have made lifestyle changes and/or sought other treatment like therapy, then the mood stabilizer might be adjusted downward.  However, you have to always be watchful of a dangerous hypomania/mania episode coming on... Best to catch these episodes by watching your THOUGHTS and catching them before your actions take a turn for the worse.

2. Omitted from above, is this:

Going to the bar doesn't have painful consequences for everyone, but it does for alcoholics.
Similarly, whatever activity you became addicted to while hypomanic, you should try to avoid.
This statement might be a bit radical, but avoiding something at first might be a good idea. For example, don't go to the mall if you have trouble with spending too much money.


  1. ..bump...

    been afraid to ask for lithium because of said loss of creativity. after two years of a anti-d alone i find the swings still persist but without the crying fits. i'm going to ask for lithium today . i think it's going to be the best decision i've ever made

  2. being bipolar i found the opposite, antiD's killed my creativity, but when i got on Lithium (though a lil zombied first 5days) - BANG! creativity came flooding through almost like a manic episode, except i had control... even started reading poetry again