24 Jan 05

Lithium and Prozac

As I'm diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorders, they've put me on lithium and Prozac.

At hourly increments I jotted down how the lithium made me feel.

1 hour after swallowing the pill:
I can feel my heart pounding. My anxiety has increased – I am trembling and uneasy. My mind is clouded. Breathing feels difficult – slow and heavy. I feel dizzy. There is a strange taste in my mouth. My eyes are heavy.

2 hours later:
I have urinated twice – long, clear jets. My eyes are aching and squinting, the book I am reading is going in and out of focus. I have a headache. My heartbeat feels odd and the left side of my chest feels tight.

3 hours later:
I have urinated two more times – more clear pee. I threw up a small amount of vomit – it looked as if blood was in it, but it may have been the tomatoes I ate at lunchtime. My hands are trembling. My head is pulsating. My skin feels strange to touch. I am experiencing sudden flatulence. I have completely lost my appetite. I am feeling occasional stabbing pains in the right side of my brain.

I felt so sick that I skipped the evenings chow.

The next day I refused the meds. I signed a refusal form upon which I described the side effects. Instead of taking these pills, I’ll stick to yoga from now on. A five-minute headstand is the best kind of medicine. Maybe a century from now the medical profession will be scoffing at lithium, as we look back and mock electro-shock therapy. In the meantime the pharmaceutical-industrial complex will make a fortune.


Anonymous said...

Just read your recent blog Jon which is bouyantly amusing as ever. Your folks are doing you proud keeping your blog lively (I assume you write to them and they blog it).

I've commented before with my own little jail experience in the UK. It must be such a bummer for you over there. You can but console yourself with the fact that one day it will be over and then you can make a fortune writing a book and doing the after dinner speech circuit.

Strangely your blog as an Ebay pop up a which offers "New and used jail in-mates". Made me laugh anyway and strangely when you follow the lead there are none on offer. Funny that.

See ya

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon,
I don't know what the prison doctor is on, but lithium is NOT anantianxiety med. It's used to treat bipolar depression and mania that is refractory to other treatment. Now, perhaps they thought your anxiety was a manifestation of depression or mania. Even if that were the case it is a last resort med because of the side effects. It needs to be carefully monitored in terms of dosing, or else side effects like those you describe (and worse) can result. What you experienced
indicates a mild overdose. Continued overdose can cause arrhythmia of the heart, hypothyroidism, blindness, and death.This is why your serum levels of lithium, along with thyroid hormone levels, etc, are
supposed to be monitored continuously and patients are started on a very low dose. There are some people that legitimately need this med because nothing else works and they can not function without it, but it is definitely a drug that should inspire caution.
Loyal reader and medical student,

Anonymous said...

Electro Shock (ECT) is still used a lot more commonly than a lot of people realise - in England as well as the US, as I understand it. It sounds cruel and unusual but I've also met psych doctors who claim that it really helps some people. Anyway, just thought I'd chip in with that. I've been reading your blog ever since it was posted on the BBC News website - I'm continually impressed with your positive attitude and attempts to triumph over adversity. All the best, and stay off the lithium ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ha, I thought you'd learnt, drugs are not good for you. They mess with your brain, screw with your body and put you in prison.

Stay with it, Shaun.

Tony Wimberley
Phoenix Az.

Anonymous said...

That psych doctor is crazy for prescribing lithium to you. Lithium is a drug used for Manic Depression (bipolar disorder), it is used to suppress the manic reactions of those with the disorder. The mild anxiety that you have described could be treated with good ol' yoga, exercise, or the herb, Valerian Root. Valerian root is just as effective as the typical benzodiazaprines prescribed by psych doctors for anxiety. By the way, I have a psych degree and will soon go back to school to work on a doctorate so that I can become a licensed psychologist.

I really enjoy reading your blog. I like the honesty, humor and optimisim. Keep it up!!! You should write a novel about your experiences. I have a friend in prison but he doesn't tell me the grimy details. I appreciate the grimy details you give because it really helps us learn what REALLY goes in prisons. It gives me a better understanding of what my friend has to deal with in prison. Thanks! - Angela "reader from Bronx, NY"