Sykkogirl’s post about losing words spurred me to write my own. For me lithium is the little word thief. It isn’t so much that the drug directly yanks the words out of my brain or impairs my cognitive abilities, it just slows the speed of my neural activity. That is, it does its job. The unfortunate thing is that job is to make me slower on the uptake. There I am having a conversation with my boss, with someone on the phone or my mother-in-law and all of the sudden — I blank. It could be a word like pajamas or snorkel — obviously in my vocabulary but rattling around. I am unable to make the connection.
When I’m writing, it isn’t as much of a problem. I still falter. I was having trouble with spurred in the previous paragraph–enticed? No that’s too…sexy… Encouraged? Well sort of but not really. But I’m not on the spot when I’m writing. I can go back and edit the missing words back into the sentences. They eventually come back. Most of them anyway. Now typing includes more hunting and pecking than my pre-lithium days. My fingers are more like someone learning to play chopsticks than Bach fingering a new concerto on the harpsichord.
Sometimes I feel as if psychopharms are a choke chain on my intellect, trying to keep it within confines, walking a straight line. But that way, I miss the trees. It’s a trade-off though. There have been studies that actually suggest lithium improves cognitive function–or more accurately that it protects it from degeneration. Maybe my word loss can be chalked up to depression and not a side effect of lithium? I don’t know…the jury’s still out. There is evidence that all states of bipolar impair cognitive function so I suppose I best preserve what I’ve got.