My Experience With Side Effects of Bipolar Meds

When I was first diagnosed as bipolar, I didn’t care if treatment had side effects. I only wanted to be out of the hell-hole of depression.

The suicidal thoughts had finally consumed my thoughts. They became increasingly frequent and it was harder to put up resistance to the hated thoughts.

Not that I hadn’t tried resisting depressive thoughts. I began a regimen of antidepressants but for several years had steadily gotten worse. I learned to sharpen my focus and concentrate my focus to keep the unwanted thoughts at bay.

I tried running away from the depression on a treadmill.

But there was no escaping the black hole. Perhaps you have been in that pit also.

Finally, after melting in tears in my physician’s floor I began a journey that would bring remission. It took several years and experiments with medications when I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar type 2.

I have not had a problem taking my medicine. There is no way I want to go back into the pit if I can help it. There have been many mood swings but never as low as the beginning.

I am in a good place now. Any swings are small and identified early.

But the medications bring side effects.

A dry mouth is a constant companion. As a pastor and professional speaker, it is a problem. Water and other liquids don’t help. So I started speaking with a cough drop in my mouth. It works, though my enunciation is not as clear as I would like.

The medication has taken away some of my facial expression. My family describes it as a blank looking mask. It interferes my relationships with others because they have difficulty reading my face. I think I am emoting but others don’t always see it. Again, not so good for a pastor who deals in interpersonal relationships.

Tremors are an issue. Sometimes it is best for me to hold my cup of coffee with both hands to avoid spills. And then people assume that the shaking is about being nervous, though I am relaxed.

There are some other things, too. My speech is slower and I struggle with finding the right words. Sometimes an energy drink before I speak speeds up the rate of speaking.

My concentration is not as focused. It takes longer to learn new material.

Evening socializing has cut back. The importance of my night medication and a rigid sleep schedule, will find me nodding off to sleep by 10:30.

And yet…Please understand… I prefer these limitations to the painful depths of depression several years ago.

I have a wonderful wife with whom I enjoy the freedom of retired life. And grandkids…the stories I could tell about us and our mischief together.

As a pastor I learned a long time ago that everyone has “stuff”. Everyone has limitations. Some limitations people can see. Others they cannot.

We are limited because we live in a broken world.

But we have a limitless God. A God of hope.

Can God use us? You bet!

God used an 80 year old shepherd who stuttered, to speak to the most powerful king on earth, Pharaoh of Egypt.

Jacob was a cheat, a first rate identity thief. But God changed him and later named him Israel, the father of the tribes of Israel.

Elijah was a mighty prophet of God, who suffered from depression.

Simon a terrorist was changed by God and became one of the twelve apostles.

Matthew, who defrauded his own people with deceptive tax practices, was changed by God, and is known as Matthew the apostle.

God used Paul, limited with chains and in a prison, to pen much of the New Testament we read today.

Whatever or whenever we are God is a God of hope

Yes, we have side effects and limitations from medications and disease. But God is not through with us. In fact, He is beginning something new.

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