Bipolar Disorder and Medication Woes: Generic Lamictal ( Lamotrigine)
This is a long newsletter as it is a long story about bipolar disoder and genetic medications! This is a past story that is still relevant.
Have you noticed that bipolar disorder can sneak up on you in so many ways? I’m always amazed when it sneaks up on me and I get sick no matter how carefully I manage the illness. For the past few weeks, I’ve had a terrifically difficult time working. I have also been really hard on myself. I kept saying, “What is wrong with me! Why can’t I just sit down and finish this book project! It’s only about 20 hours of work and then I can get another book deal! Why am I putting off something that completely affects my future?” This went on for weeks. I just assumed I was being lazy. But I know I’m not a lazy person!
I also found myself spending a lot more time alone – and I’m a very social person. My brain just seemed to shut off. I floated around a lot. There was little creativity and I had trouble sitting down. I then had trouble with anger and got mildly manic a few times. I started to twitch and felt really itchy. And still… I was hard on myself for not getting things done!
I got out of the house and saw friends- but everything was a struggle. I used all of the tips in my books and that kept me functioning. Soon, I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I was so restless. But I was also super tired! Then the depression started. It was the kind of depression where I not only felt hopeless, I cried a lot and had trouble completing tasks. I have been like this many times in my life, so I kept going, but it was hard.
Finally, I went to visit a writing friend of mine a few hours away from my house. I had anxiety on the way there and had trouble deciding if I should spend the night or come back and sleep in my own bed. I couldn’t sit and then started twitching again. I alternately felt ok and then anxious. And then it hit me…. it had to me by meds. If you have been following my medication situation on the blog, you will know I switched to generic Lamictal in December. This is actually called generic Lamotrigine. When I got back from my friend’s house- I had such a bad downswing I had to call my mom, my coauthor John, my insurance company and my doctor to help me. They all agreed it was my meds.
I did a LOT of research to check on the efficacy of generics. I was told they have the same active ingredients, but that the way they metabolize in the body can differ with each person. The active ingredients may have been the same, but the way the medication went into my body didn’t work. I’m now back to my Lamictal and am starting to feel better. I also feel relief that it wasn’t me- it was the generic Lamictal not metabolizing in my body. This is the reversal of the typical, it’s not you, it’s me! Ha ha.
Generics work for most people- my mom, a friend and many people who read this blog are on generic Lamictal with no problems. There is a long discussion regarding this topic on the blog. If you go to the right menu and click on Lamictal, you will see the entries and comments.
I wrote this long newsletter for a few reasons- first, we have to be so vigilant (as do the people around us) and notice the signs of illness way before they go too far. I had been doing much better work wise for almost a year, so when it got though, I should have seen that there was something wrong. Also, isolating myself is not the real me and I am very rarely tired. There is a long list of what I could have seen. I also knew in my heart that generics were not right for me as I am ridiculously sensitive to medications. The person with bipolar disorder and the people around that person are the best tools for managing the illness. When I got out my Health Cards and looked over my symptoms, I saw so many signs that I was ill. I wish I had opened The Health Cards sooner!
I am doing quite well these days. It’s great. Now I can finally get my book proposal done and be proud of myself!
FYI: The brand Lamical is made by Glaxo Smith Kline. It’s an anti convulsant that is especially effective for treatment resistant depression. It also helps my rapid cycling, hypomania, OCD, psychotic and ADHD symptoms! This is why I got so ill with the generic lamtrigine. Whether you take Lamictal or the lamotrigine works for you, as it does many people – it truly is a miracle drug and I hope it works as well for you as it does for me.
A final note: I want to reiterate that I am not against generic medications at all! I just want all of us to monitor symptoms very carefully whenever we change meds or try new meds. We know our bodies best!
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