Since my 10-day hospitalization for mania, which ended in April, my psychiatrist has made adjustments to my combination of medications. I am now taking 1350 mg. lithium carbonate ER at night, 5 mg. of Saphris in the morning and 5 mg. of Saphris at night, 200 mg. of Lamictal in the morning, and 15 to 30 mg. of temazepam at bedtime, as needed, for sleep.
I just took my first dose of temazepam for sleep last night and I feel good today. I slept well, I did not have a medication hangover when I woke up, and I have been calm and productive all day. I'm thankful that my psychiatrist prescribed it, and I'm hoping that this will complete the perfect combination of medications for me. If it works, it will be the combination I have been hoping for for the past 23 years - one that lets me feel and act like my best self.
My former psychiatrist switched me from temazepam to Ambien about 7 years ago because, he said, Ambien was less likely to be habit forming. That didn't make sense to me, as I hadn't formed a habit, but he insisted that I needed to make the change, so I did, and I haven't experienced as much stability since then as I did before he made the switch.
I told my current psychiatrist what happened when I was switched from temazepam to Ambien, and she wrote a prescription for temazepam right away. Anyone who has bipolar disorder knows how important sleep is to managing the health condition. Some doctors avoid prescribing sleep medications, because they may be habit forming, and instead use other medications, like the antipsychotic Seroquel, for example. I tried to use Seroquel for sleep, but I felt very much impaired and overly sedated during the day. I made many more mistakes than usual, and always felt like I was ready for a nap. I'm happy that my current psychiatrist sees me as a unique individual and prescribes the medications that work best for me.
Many mental health bloggers shy away from writing about the medications that they take, but I don't. I've always been told, and I've learned through life experience, that medication is necessary for managing bipolar disorder, especially Bipolar Disorder I, the most severe form, and the one that I happen to have. Since I'm sharing everything else I do to maintain balance, and since medication is so important for that, I'm describing the medication that I take, and how my psychiatrist decides to prescribe it. She only likes to change one medication at a time, so she can evaluate how each one works in combination with my other medications. This can be a laborious process, but I feel that it is helping me to experience more wellness.
Every person who takes medication is a different person with a different lifestyle. There is no one size fits all in psychiatry - at least there shouldn't be. I'm not suggesting my exact cocktail of medications to anyone else, I'm just writing that it is what's currently working for me. Reading stories of recovery, including stories of people finding medications that work, has always given me hope. More than anything else, in writing this blog, I want to encourage anyone with a mental illness, as well as their friends and relatives, to hang on to hope.