Friday, December 14, 2012

Does Lithium Orotate work for Bipolar Disorder?

It continues to puzzle me as to why doctors don't prescribe Lithium Orotate

Sure, it's not like lithium carbonate.  It doesn't cause any sustained increase in serum level.  It also is not a prescription.

However, it works, and not just for me.  If you read the reviews, you'll see that many people find it helpful for mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

How does it work for me? Well, it makes me less moody. It also prevents mania. I experience the same therapeutic effect that I had from lithium carbonate, minus the side effect of hand tremor.

I recently tried to increase the dose from 4 pills a day to 5.  It made me too thirsty, so I reduced it back to 4.

This thirst is the first definitive side effect I've experienced from it.  What's interesting about the thirst side effect, is that it didn't happen immediately after taking the pills, but rather much later in the day.  So it seems that even though the blood level is not measurable, there is some long lasting effect from the lithium orotate.

Anyway, I'm not advocating Lithium Orotate, but just wondering how come such a seemingly effective medication is ignored by mainstream psychiatry.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lithium Orotate Blood Level Test

Good news here!

After taking lithium orotate for about 6 years, I finally got a lithium blood level test done.  I got health insurance and during my physical I told my doctor about taking lithium orotate and asked for a lithium test and a kidneys function test. She thought that was a good idea and also did a thyroid (TSH) test.  My doctor didn't know that this form of lithium was available over the counter as a supplement.

So, my results are in, and my lithium level is <0 .1, with the standard reference range between  0.6-1.2mmol.  I take 4 pills of the Doctor's Best Lithium Ororate, in a split dose (2 in the morning, 2 at night), which comes out to 20mg of elemental lithium.

(Update: Doctor's Best brand has been discontinued, but I've found both the NCI Advanced Research brand the the Vitamin Research brands to be equally effective.)

This low result is pretty much what I expected from doing research online. For some reason, lithium orotate does not stay in the blood, but rather goes into the cells.  This inability to read a lithium level makes some doctors think it doesn't work, but from my personal experience, I can sure tell you it does work for me.

In fact, it has fewer side effects..  The prescription form, lithium carbonate, causes a hand tremor that lithium orotate doesn't cause.  Lithium orotate might have the same thirst side effect - I do get thirsty often and do drink a lot of water - but can't really say for sure whether that's from the lithium orotate or whether that's just me.  It might also cause weight gain - although my weight gain is just as likely from genetics or eating habits or normal aging. So I'm not completely sure that the lithium orotate has any side effects.

The other blood tests I had done all came out normal. Normal metabolic panel, normal O TSH Reflex FT4, normal O CBC with Diff.  So it appears that the lithium is not harming my kidneys, liver, or thyroid.

By the way, the blood test was done about 3 hours after taking my morning lithium dose.  And I've been on the same dose for years.  I may consider raising it.. sometimes I feel that I could use a bit more therapeutic effect.  But not having many scientific studies, it's hard to know what the best dose is.

For more information about the importance of the lithium blood level test, check out this excellent explanation by Dr Phelps: Please explain the therapeutic range level of lithium and it's significance for  management of the illness.    (Dr. Phelps also has an excellent website on Bipolar II:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

No Perfect Drug or Medicine for Bipolar

I woke up yesterday feeling great.  I slept well. I felt happy. I had inner calm.  

I went to the grocery store.  I was clear headed.  I remembered to buy everything on my list.  I wasn't scattered.

My brain felt at 100%...... Bipolar was gone for the day.  My thinking was fast and clear.  My mood was great.

I wasn't depressed.  I wasn't hypomanic.  So I began to think, how could I recreate this mental state, so that I could have it every day?  What supplement did I take?  What did I do differently?

Nothing......  There is no perfect drug that can bring you 100% days every day.  But there are some that may help you get closer to 100% more often.   If you get a great day, enjoy it, and try to remember it when you are depressed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back from vacation: Taking Pills on the Plane

I had a ton of pre-trip anxiety, and now that my vacation is over with, so is my anxiety.

One of the things I was really anxious about was taking my medicine through airport security.  So I decided to mail my meds to my sister so that I wouldn't have to take them through security.  Even though you are allowed to take medicine through airport security (even unmarked, such as in a pill organizer), I was still nervous that they would cause a problem for me.

So I mailed them to my sister, and I asked her to bring them to the airport when she picked me up.  That worked out fine. I was also nervous that she was going to say something to me about all of these meds I take.... I was having plenty of irrational thoughts.

Irrational thought: She would think bad of me for taking all of these meds.

I tried to replace it with the rational thought: She would be glad to see me and happy that the medicine works for me.

One thing I did not plan for was that my airplane was late and I missed my connecting flight, so I was at the airport for 5 hours.  So I didn't have my morning meds to take on time, but as soon as I did arrive, I took my lithium and I felt fine.  So, in retrospect, it may have been better to have the meds with me... but I did the best thing for my nerves.

Sunrise, as seen from airplane, during red-eye flight.

On the way home, I still had some of the meds that I mailed her, and I brought them through airport security without any problem.  They did rescan one of my bags when the X-ray machine beeped, and the TSA agent thought something was funny (I don't know what.. I didn't have anything funny in my bag!), but it was fine.  The TSA agents were actually quite nice and relaxed.

By the way, I had a terrific vacation!  My mood was good the whole time!  I got to see my family and it was so wonderful. I just wish I didn't have so much pre-trip anxiety.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stop lithium to see if I really am still crazy

That's a crazy thought.

I'm sure anyone who's on psych meds has had it.... Maybe if I stop taking them I'll be able to handle it.. Maybe I'll have more inspiration.. Maybe I'm not sick anymore.. Do I really need them?

Today, as I was refilling my pill box, I was thinking about which pills I need the most, and that turned into my wondering what would happen if I did lower the lithium.....

But I've been there, done that.  The lithium makes my life so much easier.  So much better.  Less arguements, less turmoil, less crisis.

And so, I do stockpile my lithium, and I rarely miss a dose.  With it, my life is better.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bipolar Forum for Asking Questions Anonymously

Today I came across the Reddit forum for Bipolar Disorder.  I'm not currently a member of Reddit, but recently I've enjoyed browsing and was surprised to find the Bipolar subtopic.   It looks like an ideal place to get support.

By the way, if you are ever in a bad mood and need something to distract yourself for awhile, try browsing the Reddit homepage, or maybe the funny category.  It helps me stay distracted when I'm in one of those blah moods.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

There's always going to be something to worry about.

On my good days, I just don't worry about it.  Who me, worry?  Nah, I don't worry.

On my bad days, I can get really worked up worrying.

Then one worry gets resolved, and there's another one lined up waiting to take its place.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Very Little Person at the Hospital

Recently, I accompanied my mother in law to the hospital for some tests, and we were greeted but a very short person in a wheelchair.  She was about three feet long.  She was right outside the elevator, and at first I didn't realized that she was a hospital volunteer. I thought she was just a cheerful person. Then I saw her name tag which said volunteer.  She told us that she was drinking coffee and working.

I really didn't know what to say to her, but she really made my day.  She didn't say much to us other than hello but she had this super sweet smile..... I thought about how God put all kinds of people on this earth and everyone has a purpose.  I think she found hers.

I wish I knew what to say, because it was very special to me.  I was having a down day and it was just what I needed at that moment, and I bet she makes many people smile.  I'm curious as to what disorder she has and what her life is like.  She was an adult, with a big head, and glasses, I think.  But my memory is kind of fuzzy.  If you do know what disorder she might have, let me know.   When I google short person I don't get the right kind of results.  She probably has some disorder having to do with bone growth.

If I won the lottery....

I would still have depressed days.

I tell my mother-in-law that my moods don't correspond with reality.  It is something I think she finds hard to understand, but I think it's an important thing to stress.  I'm not depressed because I'm having a bad day.  For example, on one of my recent depressed days, I found out that her cat scan came back normal - no cats tumors found.  Yay!  I should have been elated with that news. And although I was relieved, it didn't make my mood happy... I was actually down... Whereas the day before, when we were waiting for results, my mood was fairly normal.  Other people were stressed, but me, no, I was doing just fine.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Extremely Short Depressive Episodes

Recently I've been having depression that lasts for about 2 days at a time.  The depressions suck, but they do go away fast.  But I want you to know, that even though the depression goes away, while it's here, it's brutal difficult.  My brain thinks the wrong thoughts.  I spend all of my time coping.  I try to think positive thoughts. I try to stay distracted.  I try to motivate myself to do things.  I eat food and it just doesn't taste great. I don't have much appetite.  Sometimes I am anxious. Sometimes I cry a lot for no reason.

It's hard to treat a depression that is so short, because while I can take something for it, the depression goes away and I don't know if it's the medicine or whether it's going away all on its own.  Today I took aniracetam and inositol and choline.  Yesterday I took phenibut.  My husband suggested Vitamin D and B12. Maybe next time I'll try that.

I recently bought some Chlortab allergy pills (Chlorpheniramine), which I used to take for anxiety.  And it still does work for anxiety.  Probably the cheapest non-prescription anxiety pill ever.  The side effect for me is sleepiness, though.  But why I mention that is I recently found this article that states it was the root molecule for an old SSRI.  So I could even try taking that on a regular basis.

And I have St John's Wort, Tryptophan, and SAM-E in my cupboard too, so I'm well stocked.  But as I said, my depression goes away in a couple of days, so I usually don't continue the anti-depressant.  But if I want to kick these 2-day depressions maybe I should find a pill that I can take on a continual basis to prevent them.  But it's tricky to find a pill that will do that and that won't accelerate mania or cause any other unwanted side effects.

So for now I chart my 2 day depressions on my calendar, and I try to keep my spirits high.  Depression is a great muse for writing though.  And when the high hits after the depression, I appreciate it even more.  But I don't like that I'm not productive at all for those 2 days...... I don't get much work done.  But life is about more than just work, and I do think God gave me this disorder for a reason.  It does give me a lot of insight and compassion.  I care about others....

Friday, February 10, 2012

Facebook, Social Networking, and Bipolar Disorder

I haven't joined facebook, although I was thinking about it yesterday.  But...

I try to avoid triggers. Things that will cause me stress.  And I can see a lot of stressful things happening on a social networking site like facebook. For example:

- Stress of people finding me that I don't want to re-connect with.  There are definitely some people  that I don't want to connect with. If I put in where I went to school, they're sure to pop up.  Now, why don't I want to connect to them?  Well, I like my life how it is now.  I've changed a lot in my post-college (and post-bipolar diagnosis) years.  During much of my teen and college years I was having mania and some of my past actions were a result of the mania and not a reflection of who I really am.  I don't need to go back in time.

- Stress of reading about other people's difficulties.  I'd love to hear about my loved one's happiness, but it's emotionally draining to read about problems that I can't solve.   Or reading about things that someone's doing that I don't approve of. Sometimes it really is better to not hear things through the grapevine. And facebook is the grapevine.

- Stress of comparing myself to others.  I don't think it's healthy. I've had my own challenges and I have my own goals in life.  It's not really important to find out what my classmates are doing and to compare who has succeeded more.

What do you think?  If you are on facebook, do you like it?  Or does it cause you stress?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I don't drink alcohol....

Whenever I drink alcohol, even just the tiniest bit of wine, my arms ache and feel heavy.  I physically don't feel good. So I don't drink.

I just thought I would throw this out there.   There used to be a time when I could drink without feeling this way, but sometime in the last 5 years or so this changed.

So, I always turn down alcohol, and people think I'm doing it for some psychological reason.  Nope.. I have no problem with being buzzed. If marijuana were legal, I'd be smoking that.  But alcohol doesn't make me feel good.

I'm Still Here

The holidays were difficult for me moodwise, and I've gone through a few days of depression. Now I'm feeling more normal but not yet very inspired to write much. So this is just an update to tell you that I'm still around.

I've thought about if I should end this blog, but I like to do my part in helping out other people with Bipolar Disorder.  I've been so greatful for all of the Bipolar information I've found online, the other blogs I follow, etc, that I'd like to continue to contribute to this wonderful internet.

Bipolar moods can make for craziness.  It's easy to push delete when you aren't feeling good.  I've resisted the delete button, and hope to add more helpful content this year.

I wish the best to all of you in 2012.