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Frank Harrison was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 32 years old. Prior to this he was an alcoholic & put his mood swings down to this. After 2 years he sought Psychiatric help and was diagnosed straight away. He was told that the alcohol was masking the symptoms of bipolar. He would drink to lift himself up & drink to bring himself down. It explained everything but excused nothing.

As Frank had suffered alcoholic seizures he was already on a drug called Valpro. Valpro is primarily used to prevent seizures. Once a person suffers a seizure, be it alcohol induced, true  epilepsy or trauma, a door in the brain is opened to allow seizure activity into the brain. Valpro helps close that door. Valpro is also a very useful mood stabiliser.

Like every drug, Valpro has side effects which include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps,  increased appetite, weight gain, diarrhoea, drowsiness and tremor. Of course not all people will have these side effects or suffer only mild effects of some of these side effects. The side effects ca also be transient. In Franks case he suffered no side effects.

The first front line medication that Frank was put on was Lithium. Lithium is a mood stabilise but needs to be monitored closely. Lithium is processed by  the kidneys. The kidneys in turn regulate Potassium levels which regulate electrical conductivity to the heart. Although Lithium made Frank pass more water, he had to take in a lot of fluid to flush excess  Potassium. It’s a Catch 22.

The side  effects of Lithium include: drowsiness, tremors in your hands, dry mouth & increased thirst or urination, drowsiness;,tremors in your  hands, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, skin or hair changes, cold feeling or discolouration in your fingers or toes or feeling uneasy. Frank did suffer 2 side effects. He suffered from hand tremors & feeling uneasy.

Frank was also put on an anti-manic medication called  Zeldox. He was meant to take it morning & night but found the morning dose made him too drowsy. His Psychiatrist is trying to slowly bring an evening dose forward by two hours in the hope that he will become used to this side effect and eventually have Frank taking the doses as intended without any side effects.

During his 1st 12 months of diagnosis, Frank had 2 episodes of clinical depression.  Wild horses couldn’t get him out of bed for weeks. Two lots of antidepressants were tried 6 months apart, both with catastrophic results. He couldn’t sit still, focus on a conversation, couldn’t sleep & was literally bouncing off the wall. Frank decided that from then on he would go his depressions alone.

When Frank goes high, his Zeldox is increased and works within days. It’s just a matter of getting its timing right.

Frank is still troubled with anxiety and takes 4 tablets when   required. He knows its addictive and tolerance properties so he uses it carefully. This anxiety still sees Frank agitated & unable to stay in the same place for more than 10 minutes. He can also be quite impatient and occasionally stutters. All of these factors feed upon themselves.

…..but Frank is a lot better than he was several years ago. He’s on the right track.

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