Monday, October 6, 2008

Insomnia = Insanity

I have been plagued by insomnia my entire life. My mom said I never slept well as a baby and I remember lying awake at night all through my childhood. I have tried everything from warm milk to hypnosis, and nothing, I mean nothing, works. Except pills. My last resort, to be sure, but they do the job like nothing else. I have used Trazodone (an anti-depressant now most-commonly prescribed for insomnia) for the past few years. While it doesn't completely knock me out right away, it makes me sleepy enough to usually fall asleep within an hour and stay asleep most of the night.

This past Friday, I went to pick up my renewal prescription and didn't realize until I got home (an hour away from the pharmacy) that I had only gotten one of my prescriptions, and it wasn't the Trazodone. Thinking that, since it was the weekend, I'd just go without and sleep in if necessary (even though I'd probably have to deal with some minor withdrawl symptoms). Oh, man, I had no idea what I was in for. I forgot just how bad it could get.

For people who don't suffer from insomnia, it's hard to describe the pure insanity of the situation. It's not merely the problem of falling asleep, it's a state of mind that makes it virtuously impossible for your mind to shut off. And, left unheeded, the brain races more and more until you literally feel out of breath and you're not sure if your heartbeat will ever return to normal.

Homeostasis is all relative at this point. 'Round about 1:00 AM or so you're sure that you have a fever, or a rash, or some other kind of ailment that your brain is trying to convince you of. You're so mixed up that you can't even tell if you're hot or cold. You alternate between turning off the fan and pulling the covers up to your chin and throwing the sheets off in a sweaty mess. You feel like you're going through puberty, menopause, and a mental breakdown all at once.

At one point last night, around 2:00 AM, I wanted to get up and cut off all my hair because I couldn't stand the way it felt on my head and neck. No position felt comfortable, and I could hear every single creak in the house, let alone the train whistles and dogs barking. My brain decided to take advantage of this time it had alone with me to remind me of every past transgression I've ever committed, along with a laundry list of sins and screw-ups. For some reason, instead of doing what everyone suggests and simply get up, I tried in vain to squeeze just a little bit of sleep out of the time I had left. Finally, around 3:00 AM, I turned on the light to read, and never did turn it back off.

The day after an all-night battle with insomnia usually has me feeling a bit woozy, like I'm recovering from being sick. Today I feel like I'm not quite keeping up with the time-space continuum , and I'm glad that I don't have to operate any heavy machinery. (Well, I did drive to work this morning, but I'd already had a cup of coffee and had been up for hours...) I'm sure I'll crash later on today and I just hope I can make it through homework time with the boys before that. At least I can go pick up my prescription.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel more human.


AGSoccerMom said...

Have you ever tried Melatonin? My 14 yr old son has Aspergers and has a horrible time trying to fall asleep and we use it. I give it to him about an hour before bed time and he is able to just relax until he falls asleep. Before that it was horrible. Try some if you havn't, it's harmless.

Heather said...

I have tried melatonin in the past. I had a doctor tell me that since it's something the body should be producing naturally, it's not something I should take for an extended period of time because it might disrupt the body's ability to produce it on its own. Of course, the hole in that theory is that my body obviously does have a problem producing it on its own as it is... I'm so glad it works for your son!