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Lithium NOT The Go-To Drug For Bipolar Disorder (Part 2)

My Lithium Story Ain’t So Sunny!

Because it is a fine line with lithium on therapeutic levels and toxic levels, you need to keep balanced and compliant; Oh joy! Yet lithium has shown its effectiveness for over 60 years!

Lithium was one of the first medications I was given with my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. It was Lithium 1200 mg and Wellbutrin 150 mg twice a day (300mg total).  One time the pharmacy mixed up the numbers and changed the Lithium to 300 mg and Wellbutrin increased to 600 mg…doubled its recommended maximum dosage!  That led to a psychotic break – my psych ward hospital charts had the reason for my admittance “acute mania with psychosis”.   That’s why it’s so important to be aware of your own medications, and of your own dose, what you’re supposed to take, how much and so on. Never assume your doctor, pharmacy, person administering your medication is always going to get it right 100% of the time.

One thing I learned the hard way while taking lithium was the need to stay hydrated! Lithium is a salt. So you’ll need to drink a lot of water. Your p-doctor should probably suggest drinking a minimum 64 ounces to 120 ounces of water/fluid a day. Also you need to consider avoiding direct sunlight, especially in the summer time. Taking lithium and working outside in the summer sun can trigger dehydration, heat exhaustion and even worse heatstroke. That is why you need to stay well-hydrated to replenish your electrolytes, and fluids.  Avoid overdoing salty foods, and also avoid eliminating salt altogether…Balance is key.

Remember lithium is based on a constant level for it to have an optimum effect on our mood. As I mentioned, I learned it the hard way when working in the Florida sun I suffered from heatstroke. I started getting dizzy, my hands and body started shaking and I could hardly stand.  Fortunately, the work I was doing had me right next to a pool and I recognized I was overheating so I jumped in the pool and hydrated.  Even after that, I was still dealing with the condition for a number of hours before I fully recovered.  Later that day, I heard on the news a few other people suffering from heatstroke died.

While I was fortunate, I recognized the symptoms of heatstroke. I also knew that I had to cool my body core temperature and hydrate.  And I couldn’t do it too fast either because then I would be risking a heart attack. The outdoor pool was perfect as it wasn’t cold water and then I hydrated with regular drinking water… Yay for me, and my hours watching the three seasons of Les Stroud TV Show Survivor Man! Http://

“The dose of lithium varies among individuals and as phases of their illness change. Although bipolar disorder is often treated with more than one drug, some people can control their condition with lithium alone.” –webMD

Lithium NOT The Go-To Drug For Bipolar Disorder (Part 2)

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels).

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2019). Lithium NOT The Go-To Drug For Bipolar Disorder (Part 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Mar 2019
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