Why is that something anyone should have make a choice about? I have asked myself that many times over the years. I have had this conversation with more than one psychiatrist/psychologist. The medications we take have harmful side effects. Some are simple ones like body acne or dry mouth. But there are some that can cause some serious stuff.
I was on Depakote from 16 yrs old to 23 yrs old. My doctor gave me all the normal warnings about side effects. I got lab work done on a regular basis for my liver and kidneys. They do a lot of studies on medications. Some big and some small. Sometimes doctors don’t always know if they should mention some of them when prescribing these medications. When I was 23 I went to my regular doctor about red marks I had all over my body. The nurse asked the normal questions. When was your last period? 4 months ago. My doctor who has known me since middle school comes in and says “Did you tell the nurse you haven’t had a period in 4 months?” She knows I wasn’t sexually active so obviously that was something she was concerned about. I just thought it was awesome not to have a period for 4 months. She did blood work that told a very interesting story.
My thyroid levels were so low it was barely working. My Progesterone levels were almost nonexistent. The red marks were internal bruises caused from my white blood cells attacking my platelets and making them burst. I now have a hyperimmune system. The Depakote was causing my Endocrine system to shutdown. It also caused Polycystic ovary syndrome. My Dad came with me to talk to my psychiatrist about it because my primary doctor thought it was the Depakote. When we told him what was happening to me he said there was one small study done where when Depakote was given to teenage girls that this happened. I started Depakote at 16 yrs old.
I took Thyroid medication for years and now that is under control. It is always low normal, but it is normal. When ever I am stressed or am exposed to a lot of germs my immune system will over react and start attacking me instead of germs. I also can’t have kids. It was a small study and years later they did a bigger study. My Dad had a coworker whose 16 yr daughter was Bipolar. They put her on Depakote. My Dad told this man to have them also check her hormone levels after what happened to me. Sure enough after only a few months on it her hormones levels started to drop just like mine.
I was very happy on Depakote. I pulled my life together and accomplished so much. It is a great drug for treating Bipolar disorder. There were a lot of benefits from it. When I tell this story people ask if I think it was worth going through all of this just for the benefits I got for 7 yrs. Yes. Yes, I do. There was a very bright light at the end of the tunnel for 7 yrs. I grew as a person. The mental anguish I had suffered with for so long had lessened. My friends were seeing my face again for the first time in so long. I got a job, made new friends, and got my drivers license. I felt human again. Life didn’t seem impossible anymore.
Lithium has pretty crappy sided effects. Also you can’t do or take anything. But it helps me in more ways then anything I have taken. I can’t go out in the sun or do anything that could cause me to get overheated. Including drinking a hot beverage. No more really hot showers. No caffeine or alcohol. The only thing I can take for pain is Tylenol. Every doctor I go to thinks I’m difficult to prescribe medication for. The list of things you can take with Lithium is shorter then the list of things you can’t take. But do I think it is worth it? Yes.
I made a decision a long time ago that I would rather be mentally healthy then physically healthy. Why? Because if you are physically healthy, but can’t enjoy it then what is the point? To me being of healthy mind is more important then a healthy body. If I can’t have both I choose healthy mind.
The things these medications do to us suck, but when I am on them I have a lot more days where I don’t want to kill myself.
Now I just want to say that even though I don’t regret going on the Depakote, I don’t recommend any teenage girls going on it. My experience also helped someone else. My Dad’s coworkers daughter would have gone through all of this if I hadn’t already gone through and my Dad was able to warn them. The new studies prove that this happens a lot. There is a link between teenage girls taking Depakote and PCOS. I don’t regret it, but I don’t recommend it. Depakote is a great medication, just not if you are a teenage girl.