I have had about 4 hours sleep and I am totally exhausted. I have always been an 8-10 hours kind of girl so this whole not sleeping thing is really starting to grate. There was a magical time before the Bipolar emerged that I couldn’t stay at boyfriend’s houses because I fell asleep so early; now the reason I don’t tend to stay is I can’t guarantee sleep at all. Insomnia is usually associated with highs in Bipolar; When you’re high you’re too busy having a wonderful time, being too fabulous and being far too productive to sleep; why sleep when you can deep clean your flat at 3am? Why eat when you could be writing a novel which may actually transform the world as we know it?
My insomnia is very much a chicken and egg scenario, it’s my main trigger but it also comes alongside feeling low and high. I can generally guarantee I’ll get unwell very quickly if I’m not sleeping but I also know that if I’m not sleeping I may already be unwell. Hmmmm. So in this instance we already know I’m feeling low and so whilst I’ve shaken off a lot of the recent episode this appears to be the part which is desperately clinging onto my pyjamas. At present we are throwing a cocktail of medication at it hoping something will stick but this isn’t working so well. It’s very unusual for me to not respond to a high dose of my sleeping tablets and especially one of the ‘hard-core’ antipsychotics so were a little baffled by it. What’s worse is that it’s certainly taunting me, a good couple of 8 hour nights and I think I’m back on track, only to have 5 nights of no sleep. My friend and I were recently talking about the recovery phase of feeling unwell and that sometimes the odd good day can feel worse than just feeling consistently unwell. A good day lulls you into a false sense of security that you’re well again, when you then wake up feeling crummy the following day it takes you by surprise and feels even worse. My insomnia currently feels like that and as a result I do not trust sleep, it’s a sly bugger.
Now some of you might say ‘hey dude there are some things that are SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN to work, how about those?’ Hmmm, now that is very much true, sleep hygiene is indeed very important. For those of you who don’t know, sleep hygiene (which is one of those medical terms I really hate) is basically the things you can do that set the mood for stress free sleep. These are things like: only wear your pj’s in bed, this signals to your brain its bedtime not doss in front of the TV with biscuits on a Sunday afternoon time. Others include turning off electronic devices an hour before sleep and certainly not having them in the bedroom which is only for sex and sleep, exercising during the day, no caffeine after around 5, having a dark room and always waking up at the same time. All of which I do, I also include washing my face, doing my teeth, taking medication and reading in bed as signals that I am going to bed. At present I’ve set myself a goal of an hours walk a day because frankly something which requires power behind movement such as a jog feels like setting myself up to fail. I also have a meditation tape which I listen to because I find having relaxing sound gives my brain something to focus on rather than my thoughts, which at the moment are unhelpful and not conducive to sleep.
Sadly none of these are quite doing the trick and whilst my insomnia celebrates its victory the rest of my body is now rebelling: My body is craving sugar simply for the energy and this combined with an inability to do some decent exercise is making me more blob like, my skin resembles a teenagers and it requires a disgusting amount of makeup to make me look semi reasonable, oh and I am also ratty as hell. I have essentially become a premenstrual pain in the bum. There was a nice stage at the beginning where I was being productive and now I just cry all the time. I know my insomnia is reaching its peak because I full on sobbed at a TV advert for Freeview (I have attached a link so you can see that whilst its clearly meant to tug at heart strings – which is a weird angle for a TV ad but whatever, it is NOT sob worthy).
I suppose this post has a number of purposes: 1. a tip – Please do not give people with insomnia titbits of info you read in Readers Digest, we are the hard cores, and we know these things 2. A positive message -Please do not take sleep for granted, it is a thing of beauty 3. Informative – if you didn’t know about sleep hygiene you do now, 4. A rant – I am annoyed, this is it manifesting and finally 5. Just a little guilt trip for when you wake up this morning- unless of course you have the same problem in which case lets join forces and be premenstrual together!