What the doctors said about my bipolar disorder

The psychiatrist appointment about my bipolar disorder and pregnancy was very stressful. Master X was in an awesome mood though and played independently most of the time, crashing trucks into the doctors and throwing balls across the room in the middle of the conversation. Better than him crying or vying for attention all the time which is what our last appointment with him was like. I left the appointment in tears, feeling even more disempowered than I think I have for a while. I made it clear our intention of withdrawing the lithium due to the risks of labour, postnatally and breastfeeding but they still pushed it as the only option for us to control the bipolar hypomania.

So, if you were to say, have a psychotic episode postnatally, what is your plan? Lithium is the only thing we know works and it takes 4-6 weeks for it to take effect. You would be hospitalised, away from your family and the best we could off is another anti-psychotic on top of the Olanzapine plus ECT. Are you okay with that?

Even writing it down makes me upset. They make it sound like we haven’t considered ‘the worst’ or like we are making this decision without any thought. It makes me not want to go back and engage anymore and just stay with our GP. I mean, it is not like the hospital is going to turn us away at the door if we are not clients of the perinatal service anymore, right? It’s not like Australia’s public hospital system is going to leave me outside the door to give birth.

The two good things I learnt today is that the extra fluid in the uterus that the clinicians thought was gestational diabetes is actually a side effect of the lithium and, that I can amalgamate my Olanzapine dosage into once a day so I should be able to escape some the tiredness I have been experiencing at work lately. I talked to Mr A about my disappointment directly after the appointment and he assured me that going with the GP’s advice on stopping lithium if we want to and use the next appointment with perinatal to allay some of their fears. I thought that I had made attempt at allaying their fears that, but I guess I was on edge. Two doctors and a counsellor sitting on one side of the room and Master X and I taking up the other half was a bit daunting to say the least. I was glad my son was there though otherwise I think I would have felt very alone.

I wish I could be bothered to write this in story form, but I am just so tired and disappointed that I just want to get this out and get over it. I don’t want to be dragging this experience with me for the rest of the day or week, so please excuse my retelling rather than story-making as I normally would endeavour to do in these situations.

And on that note, I’m going to eat some delicious chocolate and take an easy afternoon with my son.

16 thoughts on “What the doctors said about my bipolar disorder

  1. I never considered the difficulty of balancing the risk of mania with the risk to the foetus/baby. Tough one. Tough day. I guess if you’re feeling well, you’d push to protect your child from the medication.

    Stupid question, but does sodium valproate / depakote not work, and is it less risky than lithium?

    I use olanzapine to control episodes and lamotrogine as a stabiliser but it sounds like you tried a bunch of stuff and finally found what works best…. but then pregnancy complicates it all.

    All I can say is, stick to your guns. If there’s a medincation combo you want to try, don’t be bullied or scarenongered by your psychiatrist. It even sounded a little bit like emotional blackmail: “what if … with your pregnancy”.

    All I can say is best wishes and best of luck in a hard situation.


  2. So, is that scenario what would really happen if you did have a psychotic episode postnatally? If you are ok with it, it is your choice. Hang in there.


    1. Well it is hard to determine as they just don’t want to talk about realistically,. coming off lithium. I find it difficult to believe anything that they are proposing at the moment to be realistic based on their bias. We are looking to save some pennies and try private to get another opinion. I think that if they were more open about it then I would consider this as a realistic outcome and consider its implications.

      Liked by 1 person

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