Throwing the jar against the wall doesn’t help when the lid is stuck.

Although, it would probably be pretty damn satisfying.  😉  We have all had times when, out of frustration, irritation, anger, depression, or plain old don’t give a damn (dgad), we have thrown that jar against the wall instead of finding another way to approach the problem of opening the jar.  Whether that is asking for help or using some other kind of assistance, it can be hard…and in some ways, embarrassing.  The physical jar I am taking about took a man I work with to open…and he had to use a mouse pad for a better grip.  Damn, that jar was sealed!  In our lives, though, there are other sorts of jars and walls we throw them against.

Currently, I am having difficulties with my meds.  The one I am most worried about today is my Lamictal (generic=lamotrigine).  Now, anyone who has even been told about this medication has been warned about getting a rash while you are on it, most especially when you start the medication.  It is also one of the medications that (in my history) takes the longest to ramp up to a therepeutic dose.  The link above will give you bunches of information about the medication.  It will also tell you that the article has information that apparently contradicts their Bipolar 2 webpage.  The reason for that possible contradiction has to do with the conflicting information out there about whether it works for Bipolar 2.


For me, this medication appears to work.  Yes, one of my side effects is irritation, but that is generally easily corrected with other medication and the leveling aspect is worth it.  It certainly seems to help me stay out of the deepest portions of depression.  So, for me, this medication is worth it.  For the last few days, though, I have had a rash on my upper chest and neck.  It might be on my jaws, but my face is rosier and I can’t tell.  I know that I am supposed to report a rash of any sort to my psychiatrist as soon as I notice it.  But I would hate to go off this medication only to find that I was reacting to something else completely.  So I decided to go online to look up more information about the “Lamictal rash” and found a lot.  Apparently, there are three possibly fatal rash reactions one can have while on Lamictal: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, DRESS Syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).  Terrifying, aren’t they?

Thankfully the rash I have doesn’t appear to look like any of those pictures.  But I am still concerned.  I am not ignoring this situation.  But I also don’t want to be taken off of a medication that is working well for me before we know whether there is a good reason to do so.  Just because I have a rash doesn’t mean that it is the lamictal rash.  So.  What am I supposed to do to get the jar open instead of throwing it against the wall and wasting the jam?

I am watching the rash over the weekend.  If anything changes, I will call the psych on call and head to the ER.  Changes include: spreading, fever, increased redness, at the least.  If nothing changes over the weekend, I will be calling my clinic for an emergency appointment with a dermatologist (I already made an appointment, but it is a long time from now).  After I know when that is (hopefully Monday or Tuesday), I will be calling my psych and letting him know what is going on.

Trust me, I want to open the jar and have some jam (take care of myself), but I am not willing to just throw it against the wall (stop taking a medication that works for me).  Because throwing the jar against the wall won’t get me the jam anyway.

You see, this site shows me what I need to be worrying about and what to watch out for in specific.  It also tells me how prevalent these reactions truly are.  Fact of the matter is, I have been on this medication (off and on) for several years.  The chances of this being a lamictal rash are even slimmer than these statistics say.  Also, even if my psych does take me off lamictal until I see the dermatologist, at least I will have an appointment in place.

So this is my current jar of jam, but what is yours?  Or was yours in the past?

[Side Note: Some sources list DRESS Syndrome and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome as being the same syndrome.]

Off-Topic Announcement:  I am going to switch the day that I write the informational posting from Friday to Saturday.  I never seem to have enough time to finish my research and posts on Friday.  Whether that is my own fault…that’s another story.  But, from now on, the information posts will be on Saturday.


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on March 17, 2012.

6 Responses to “Throwing the jar against the wall doesn’t help when the lid is stuck.”

  1. The fever is really the big thing to worry about with the rash – but good call to keep an eye one it. Hope it gets better, not worse!

    My secret for getting more of those darn jars open: turn them upside-down and give ’em a couple hard whacks on the bottom. It forces a seal-jarring impact (physics) that often makes it easier to then open the jar.

    My jar of jam is just finding a decent psychiatrist. Now I’m grappling with how to deal with medical records being transferred between the old evil one and a potential new one, and what that might mean. I guess if the new one is any good, he would listen to me and my objections to the garbage they may have put into the medical records. I don’t know. I’m getting exhausted with the whole thing and have a lot else on my mind right now. It doesn’t help the process…

    • DeeDee, I have to tell you that, when I read this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I have been exactly where you are! My last psychiatrist was a horror. I gave myself friction burns from rubbing my arms in front of her and she couldn’t be bothered to even say anything. I sat in her office waiting room for an hour with tears running down my face on this occasion before she even saw me because I was early for my appointment and it was lunch time. [I get that lunch time is important, but let’s get real people!] When I called her office to let them know I was admitting myself to the hospital, their response was, “Oh. Well, thanks for informing us.”

      Needless to say, while I was in the hospital, I was required to make an appointment with her for medication continuity, but I also made an appointment with a new psychiatrist.

      Now my new psych, I like. He’s not perfect, but he listens. He tries to understand what I mean, even when my words are unclear. He talks to me like an adult, but not like I am supposed to know these things already. Even the stuff I do know and lose track of anyway, he doesn’t beat me about the head with my mistakes or, “You know better than this.” [And yes, my old psych actually said that to me.] As for the records aspect, I didn’t give them access to my records until after my first appointment. So he and I were able to talk before he saw those records. He also asked me why I was changing doctors and I told him that I didn’t like my previous doctor and why. Not in an accusatory way (and that was hard), but as information he needed before he opened those records.

      Between needing the records and blood tests, it was a couple weeks before he felt comfortable tweaking any of my medication. He called me at home then and told me to increase my lithium. And I believe that he would have done it all the same way with or without the medical records. I don’t know if you can do things that way wear you are/with your health coverage, but it might help? I will say that I picked the first psych that accepted my insurance and was taking new patients. I still didn’t get an appointment for 3.5 months. Honestly, I was lucky.

      Good luck in your own quest. Remember that settling on a psychiatrist can be more dangerous than others think. If one doesn’t fit, then do what you can to find another.

  2. I think, like, 90% of the rashes that you get from lamictal are benign. Doesn’t mean it’s not scary though.
    I too am on that particular pharma train. I love that I don’t get super sad any more, but I still get super pissy. Can’t decide if that’s good enough. And that’s what we get with these pills…not good enough, or good enough as the options.
    I’m wishing you well.

    • Yep. That irritation/frustration level already being peaked means that sometimes I get angry at things that are minor and I would normally be able to ignore. My doc is hoping that increasing the lithium will help. Previously I have been on Abilify. Now, if I had the money (shit costs an arm and a leg…and a kidney), I would go on it again. Even on insurance, that stuff costs at least $50 a month. Without insurance, I don’t know many that could afford over $400 a month. And I was only on 2mg a day. I have to say that the stuff was super effective at keeping the frustration and anger reactions in a more expected range for me when more level. But…although I don’t like taking medication at all, I will do what needs to be done to live with my bipolar rather than just surviving.

      Thank you for your kindness.

  3. I went off my Lamictal (Bipolar I) for a time and went on another mood stabilizer. I went back to my Lamictal. For me, nothing has changed my life for the better (medication-wise) than it. It is found to be clinically as effective as Lithium.

    I hope you don’t have to go off it since its working well for you. My daughter also has BiP and got the rash. It kinda sucked.

    God luck! Keep us informed.

    • Thanks for responding!

      I do have to say that it seems to do a lot more for the depression portion for me. Previously, lithium leveled me out, but in a depressed state. They had to give me anti-depressants which cause other issues. So Lamictal and Lithium might be just the right combo for me, but we are still adjusting.

      I am sorry that your daughter has had issues with it. Good luck to you both!

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