I’m finally beginning proper medication, rather than self-medicating, as I’ve done for seven years. I began taking Lamotrigine (Lamictal) mid-October 2014, starting off with 25 mg every morning. This anticonvulsant is used to treat epileptic seizures & extreme mood episodes in bipolar disorder. Six weeks later, I reached 200 mg per day, & that is the amount I’ve stuck with since.
Lamotrigine has been successful in controlling rapid cycling & mixed bipolar states, particularly where other medications failed. Research is still learning what this drug is useful for, but recently it’s been reported to be a useful treatment for some people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) &/ or borderline personality disorder (BPD). It first received final approval for marketing in the US, & was labeled for use as an anticonvulsant, two days after Christmas in 1994. In 2003, it was approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for people with bipolar disorder. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of lamotrigine as a long-term prophylactic agent is increasing.
During early November 2014, I began taking Seroquel (Quietiapine). This FDA approved medication allowed for patients ages ten & up treats the depressive side of bipolar disorder. After taking 100 mg for two nights, the dosage increased to 150 mg every night. This antipsychotic, frequently used to treat schizophrenia & bipolar disorder, allowed me to sleep deeply & for more sequential hours, providing me with better rest than I’d felt in months. A new form of peace enveloped me after several nights of sleeping well.
Seroquel provides several hours of satisfying sleep, as well as staying active in my system when I awaken to ease moderate anxiety. As my psychiatrist suggested, I slowly continued increasing the dosage to find a perfect amount for a good night’s sleep; I plateaued at 400 mg. I now take that amount about an hour or so before bedtime. Because keeping a routine is important in recovery from bipolar episodes, I try to take my Seroquel between ten PM & midnight. On bad days that I can’t wait to end, I sometimes go to bed as early as seven PM. Unfortunately, it does nothing to relieve my night terrors. Many times during the middle of the night, I still wake up soaked in sweat due to night terrors, despite how well or deeply I might sleep with the medication.
Some nights, when I’m feeling wonderfully hypomanic, I truly don’t want to take my medication. It brings me down so I can sleep, but when I’m feeling that elated, I don’t want to be brought down. It’s common for patients to go off their medication because it dulls their mania & the awesome “high on life” feeling. For now I am responsibly sticking to taking it routinely & as prescribed.
Side effects, which are common side effects with mood stabilizers, include drowsiness & dry mouth. Thankfully, I’ve experienced on side effects from either medication.
Both of my medications are also considered mood uppers, or mood stabilizers. My next physiatrist appointment isn’t for another month, so until then I am continuing with my medication as prescribed & doing what I can to track my mood in hopes of understanding if these meds are working for me.