Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Diary of an Insomniac

I am an insomniac.

I don't have 'a little trouble' sleeping. Yes, I've tried that. Yup, tried that, too. It's not a problem of 'just relaxing and letting go'. It's a real thing.

I've had trouble sleeping since childhood. I'm the can't-fall-asleep variety of insomniac. My pediatrician told my mother is was a phase. I would learn to fall asleep on my own. (He also misdiagnosed my PCOS)

My insomnia has also been misdiagnosed and mistreated as depression and anxiety.

Normal sleepers have occasional insomnia. It can last for as short as a few days to as long as a month. It is short-term and temporary.

There are some great tips on dealing with temporary insomnia. They work great! In the majority of people, their insomnia goes away and they go back to regular sleep. Turn the clock faces away from the bed. Visualize a calm and happy place and try to get into a dream state. Warm milk. Wet tea bags on the eyes. Warm shower or bath. Calming yoga poses. No TV in the room. The bed should only be used for sleeping. Get up, do something soothing for 20 then, get back in bed.

For me, a good night is one when I fall asleep before 1am. A bad night would have me falling asleep around 6am. Both scenarios make getting up at 7am very difficult.

I've argued with doctors about my insomnia and since I can't prescribe for myself, I usually give up. My GP sent me to a psychiatrist to get treated for depression. The psychiatrist had me on one drug for the depression and Ambien for the insomnia. The depression drug made me feel dull. I fell in love with the Ambien!

Don't worry, this isn't an addiction story.

I overheard someone talking about splitting their Ambiens in half and still getting a good night's sleep. I tried it and it worked. Now my supply would last longer.

I got pregnant and went off both drugs. Now, I couldn't sleep and something was kicking my bladder.

I stayed off the drugs for 5 years. I complained about my insomnia again. My GP tried to treat me for anxiety. I ignored the anxiety pills and slowly used up my stash of Ambiens. (I had to go on Trazadone for mal de debarquement and they made me stupid). My GP is a great doctor but, he admits he doesn't know enough about insomnia to treat it properly. He is also very aware and worried about the side-effects of Ambien. I don't blame him, they are pretty freaky. Also, the insurance company hates paying for the brand name. At $10 a pill, I don't blame them.

In 2008, I made an appointment with a sleep specialist. I did a two-night sleep study. The first night was 'regular' sleep (regular = hooked up with wires and taking a prescribed Ambien). The second night was with an apnea mask. The guy who did the wires did a bad job and both nights were uncomfortable. The good news...I have a diagnosis for insomnia and a prescription. The bad news was that I had mild apnea.

I tried a mask and ended up with bloody noses and sinus infections. I stopped using it.

I have my lovely sleeping pills again. I don't use them every day. I don't use full-strength every day. The wonderful thing is that I have them and can get an occasional good night's sleep.

I am planning on using this blog as a diary of my insomnia. Hopefully, I can explain what it is, how it effects me. If I am really lucky, I can help someone who has insomnia, too.

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