by Julie Anne Fidler, BB Weekly Contributor
Sleep is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Of the many bipolar symptoms I’ve dealt with over the course of my life, sleeplessness has been the toughest. Until I started taking a med called Seroquel, I never slept… ever. I remember telling my doctor that I had no recollection of a full night’s sleep. For nearly two years, Seroquel was sedating enough to provide me with rest. Rest isn’t the word for it. I was semi-comatose because of it, not that I’m complaining.
But the sedating effects wore off and for the past few months I have been stuck between three different kinds of insomnia. There are nights I can’t fall asleep at all and I spend the next day feeling like I’m battling the flu. Some nights I fall asleep only to wake up in the wee morning hours, long before the sun has even decided to wake up for the day and I can’t fall back to asleep. And other nights, I can’t fall asleep until the wee morning hours and I end up sleeping during the day.
Last week I could not sleep at all. I tried an over-the-counter sleep med that did squat. I cut out all the caffeine in my diet (I have a pretty bad coffee habit), and nothing would work. The result was a few days of relative instability. The rubber met the road for me, so to speak. I was feeling miserable, both physically and mentally, and the last thing I wanted to do was praise God or crack open my Bible. I didn’t want to do anything. I have a lot of hobbies but none of them appealed to me.
But I knew that if I wanted to pursue this ministry of helping others with mental illness, I had to do the things I told everyone else to do. And, so, I did. Reluctantly. Little bits at a time. I called a dear friend and mentor of mind and she prayed over the phone with me and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tears still fell, but I knew “mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Of course, I knew I needed to do more than that. I knew I needed to solve my sleep problem. Man, everyone likes to make fun of Michael Jackson, but I get it. Not that I would ever inject Propofol into my veins, but I understand the exhaustion and frustration he must have been feeling. It’s hard to be human when you feel like a walking zombie.
I am now the proud owner of a bottle of Ambien. I was a little scared when my doctor prescribed it for me, because I have a friend who once hallucinated on it and thought her bed was surrounded by fairies. (At least it wasn’t ninjas, Taliban, or Chuck Norris.) I kept thinking, wow, the last thing I need is to hallucinate. Here’s one symptom I haven’t had yet, and I’d like to keep it that way.
I’m happy to report I have not hallucinated. I’m also happy to report that for the past three nights, when I go to bed, I fall asleep quickly and stay that way until morning. I’m even happier to report that I feel like a real person again – not a zombie, not emotionally unstable, just me. You know – normal crazy.
Far be it for me to leave you without a lesson, so here it goes.
Sleep disturbances are very common in people with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. If you’re waiting around for it to get better or avoiding having to take another pill (I’ve been guilty of this), give in. God made separate days for a reason. When you can’t sleep, they all blur into one big, never-ending day and it’s hard to see the newness and fresh hope of morning when every day is just an extension of the last. It makes sense that a malfunctioning brain would make for a malfunctioning body clock.
God wants you to have rest and hope. So, if you are not experiencing that today, make plans to get your life back.Julie Anne Fidler is a contributing writer for Brokenbelievers.com. She comes with a humble and understanding heart for those with a mental illness. Her writing gift is valued greatly. Look for her post weekly, on this blog. She keeps a personal ministry blog at www.mymentalhealthday.blogspot.com. Read more there.