Tag Archives: sleep

Medzzzzzzz…

I had like 3 fucking meltdowns over Christmas weekend which is sorta normal for me but this year was probably worse than previous years ‘n I don’t really wanna talk about it right now, not because I don’t wanna revisit that shit but because I’m sleepy as fuuuuuck…..

My doc and I decided to halve my Welbutrin dose ’cause I think neither of us is 100% sure that I still need it. I tried it a long time ago, pre-bipolar diagnosis as a treatment for depression and that didn’t really work out, obviously (see LBD: antidepressants). Then a couple years ago, while on mood stabilizers, my doc prescribed it again to help me quit smoking because I have like zero willpower and I get upset a lot and it’s super easy for me to rationalize breaking my tobacco fast if I’m really, really, really upset (so, like, often). Welbutrin makes smoking really uncomfortable (I frequently liken it to trying to inhale a large marshmallow I picked out of bag of wet garbage) and also disrupts your brain’s ability to enjoy nicotine so you may as well just be smoking the paper for all the good it’ll do in terms of calming you down.

The other reason we went with Welbutrin is that it’s kind of an upper – not in the same way that speed or even caffeine is, but among its peers, Welbutrin is the most likely to give you a little boost. All my other meds are sedating so the intention was to sort of counteract that problem with more meds (I’ve written about medicating my medication before, but probably not thoroughly enough, remind me to get back to it).

This time around, I don’t think I’ve been prescribed Welbutrin specifically to combat depression, but if it happened to do that, then yay? So last week, my prescription ran out and I was talking to my doctor about it and we thought maybe cutting to dose in half might be fun (ahem: a medically sound choice that is reversible if it happens not to work out). I didn’t start taking the smaller dose until after my Xmas meltdowns because I fucking hate the holidays and I didn’t wanna start experimenting until they were over. Which turned out to be, probably, a really good idea.

This is either day 2 or 3 of the halved dose and I’ve been a fairly drowsy. Which, I mean, is unsurprising considering the drug’s invigorating properties. I suspect I’d feel similarly if I switched from coffee to tea or something – which will never fucking happen, when I die, I wanna be ground up like coffee beans and served, hot or iced, to all my mourners (no I don’t, that’s gross, Laura). 

So, like, I spent the day fucking around with my roommate’s mandolin and working on some poems just for fun, and I think I paid off the balance on my Target card. Like, I got some shit done. I taught myself this song on mando:

Don’t get impressed or anything, it’s not a super complicated song, just a really good song and a fun one to sing and play. But now my fingers hurt ’cause mandolin strings are a little more ouchy than guitar or banjo strings ‘n I’m not really used to them yet. But I did like, at least one or two things today and I didn’t actually have to do anything today, so good for me. Fine.

But it’s me, so I worry a lot about these specters of things that are pretty unlikely, chiefly here: I’ll be sleepy forever. Before my various Christmas freakouts, I had been doing really well. Depakote seems not to have given me the stupids like I worried it would. My moods were pretty even, almost predictable (!!!) and I was feeling good about myself and having all these neat ideas for creative projects which, at this point, I haven’t been neglecting as severely as I usually do when I have good ideas. Good. Cool.

But I wanna take as little medicine as I can get away with and Welbutrin, among my other meds, is the easiest to play around with, so here we are. Slightly less medicated, but markedly more sleepy. This should go away. I mean, if I were taking Welbutrin and nothing else, I’d be about 100% sure the drowsiness would wane after the physical withdrawal was over, but that’s not the case ’cause, like I said, I’m on other meds, 3 others exactly, and they all sometimes make me very tired. More specifically, they shorten my battery life. It’s not that I’m evenly sedated throughout the day, it’s more like I only have energy for one or maybe two activities in a day and I don’t like to stay out late anymore.

So right now it’s a little after 4 p.m. It’s rain-snowing like the goddamned apocalypse outside and I’m legit afraid my power will go out. I’ve run out of shit to do except take a shower which is only necessary because it’s my habit to shower daily, I’m not actually dirty enough right now to warrant bathing. After that, it’s very likely that I’ll get high and watch cartoons or something. Maybe reread my poems a few hundred more times. They are part in Italian and I’m like real stoked on that point. But that’s about it. I don’t have energy for much else. I could:

Clean something, like my desk maybe (nah…)

Investigate the meaning behind the text I just got from my sister which simply reads: “Butt fun?”

Learn more mandolin chords and maybe develop some muscle memory and build tougher calluses

Mulch Arturo more thoroughly (Arturo is my pet blueberry bush. He lives on my patio and should be able to withstand a northern Midwest winter storm but he almost died this summer so I worry about him a lot)

Play some solitaire chess. Gotta stay sharp ‘n whatever.

But I totally won’t do any of these things (except maybe find out what the deal is with “Butt fun?” ’cause there is zero context for that text and it’s fucking funny). I’m probably just gonna return my roommate’s mando to his room, take my evening meds (including the ones I prescribed to myself), move from the office to the couch, watch some Jaclyn Glenn youtube videos, lazily entertain sexual thoughts about this woman who I only know through her Etsy shop but who seems like my kinda people even if I can’t quite see what she looks like or tell how old she is from her tiny picture, and maybe see which of the cats is more amenable to being used as a pillow today ’cause one of them will usually let me do that, but it’s not always the same one. All eminently slothful pursuits.

Anyhowl, getting back to things, I’m gonna give it maybe another 7-10 days of grogginess before I decide if the new Welbutrin dosage is right for me. Like, fingers crossed real hard, I guess, ’cause, like I said, the less medicine I can get by on, the better. In the meantime, jammies ‘n couches ‘n…”Butt fun?”

-LB

Too Sad For Therapy

I rescheduled therapy today. I probably really needed to go to therapy today. But it’s a 90 minute commute each way on public trans, and I couldn’t fucking stop crying and, though I’ve said in the past that my near total lack of shame has accommodated a great many bus cries, there’s a difference between a few tears sliding from under my sunglasses and outright, unstoppable bawling. So I didn’t go. Also I was having unusually severe IBS symptoms and, in truth, if it was just the IBS, I could’ve bit the bullet, taken extra Imodium and peppermint oil, donned a very loose sweater and gotten my ass to therapy. But I’dve been super fucking uncomfortable the whole time and clenching distractingly out of a worry that I’d poop on my doctor’s white couch*.

I cried yesterday too, but only for like 20 minutes after I WebMD’d the symptoms** of this mystery shoulder pain I’ve been having for a few days and concluded, via the Internet, that I was dying.

My appointment today was at 2:15, but it took until around 1:45 for me to stop weeping ‘n shit. I didn’t know how long it was gonna take, but I still can’t get to my doc’s office in half an hour, so I guess I really couldn’t have gone.

My husband and I like to play one of three games when it’s just the two of us: Scrabble, blackjack, and chess so, in the hopes that it’d make me feel better, we spent like an hour playing blackjack on our bed. It did help. Probably more than therapy would’ve because I’dve just cried the whole damn time and my doctor and I would have probably come to the conclusion that I’m sliding into another depression, which would’ve made be cry even more because of how fucking unfair it feels whenever I start to get depressed.

I think my depressive episodes come saddled with a twisted and customized version of the five stages of grief:

Denial: It’s just a shitty week, I’m fine. Not cutting or scratching, that’s proof, right? This isn’t happening again, it’s not.

Anger: I can’t do any of the things that were moving my goddamned life forward and everyone who thinks they can help me through this can just fuck off.

Bargaining: I wish I was just stupid. Like really fucking stupid. Really stupid people don’t get depressed, they get sad but not depressed. Can’t I have that? I want it.

Depression: I’m worthless, I’m subhuman, I can’t eat, I oversleep, I can’t have orgasms, I’m a pollutant and a cancer. All I do is take from everyone around me and I don’t have enough strength to fight through this to give anything back.

Acceptance: I’ll always be like this. Even if this goes away, it will come back. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is probably the most dangerous stage ’cause it’s usually the point at which I feel the most suicidal. It’s also, arguably, a vital pivot point, simply because I tend to acknowledge that this particular depression could actually dissipate (even if I insist it’ll come back). Depending on how well I can convince myself of the transience of my episode, I could feel more motivated to work really hard*** to get back to regular.

They don’t always go down like this, but right now, I’m oscillating between blaming the fallout of my hormonal IUD removal coupled with my lack of proper sleep the last few days and fearing that this an actual depressive episode rapidly hurdling over the horizon. Today, I’m probably leaning toward the latter. Or maybe not. I really haven’t been sleeping properly for like the last 5 or 6 nights. I get up and night a lot and have trouble getting comfy. Exhaustion and depression can both make me cry a fuck ton. Both leave me fatigued. Both make me irritable.

So, in short: I guess I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Except yes I do. I mean, I’m pretty damn sure I do. The best I can hope for is to land on that unsteady target where I’m just depressed enough to spin it into something cool, and not lose my motivation completely, but it’s not like I can arrange that shit. I could be staring down months and months of near-lifelessness and my mother’s infuriating commentary on how much weight I’ve accidentally lost (she doesn’t seem to be 100% convinced of the “accidentally” part, she thinks I should try harder). I could be going into a mental and social hibernation indefinitely. Again.

So, my doctor let me reschedule our appointment for tomorrow afternoon after I told her about my IBS symptoms. The rescheduling was a massive relief at first, until I realized I might be just as bad or worse tomorrow. I guess the best I can do at this point is to expect that in case it happens. Preparedness…

-LB

*I don’t have anal incontinence, so this really wasn’t likely at all, but my Pride and my Vanity have convened and are in agreement that you should know: I don’t have anal incontinence.

**Don’t do this. You know better. I know better. You type in “fatigue” and come away, definitely, definitely with stage IV esophageal cancer, even if you know you’ve been getting poor quality sleep lately and don’t drink or smoke.

***Depression is hard fucking work. You have to try to keep your life together but you’re probably pretty hobbled. So, it’s basically like having gravity turned up while you struggle to lift the same amount you were lifting comfortably a week ago.

Things That Work And Things That Don’t Work And Things That Might Work Or Might Not

Some roofers have been working on my neighbor’s house since like 6 a.m. today. It woke up my husband. It did not wake up Laura. WEIRD. Like, seriously weird because I’m a really light sleeper and I usually wake up a few times during the night to pee or yank back my share of the comforter or stare at the ceiling contemplating nothingness (I’m trying to stop doing that last one ’cause it’s too great a demand on my psyche at 3:30 in the morning, but too fascinating a concept to ignore entirely). But, really, it’s not that weird that the roofers didn’t wake me up because I took an Ambien last night. Or at least I think I did. Like 90% sure I took an Ambien last night.

My doctor thinks it’s prudent to have a little stockpile of Ambien because when bipolar people sleep improperly, we get even weirder. For me, not enough sleep = hypomania followed by physical exhaustion with lingering racing thoughts so I can’t sleep even though I’m really tired. When I oversleep, I tend to get depressed. I used to oversleep a lot. I almost never do anymore. So, the Ambien is really nice to have around. What would be nicer is if it did its job consistently. Sometimes, Ambien knocks me out and keeps me from waking up at night, which is what I need it to do. Other times, I don’t fall asleep and I’m just woozy on sleeping pills – which is not without its charm – but I tend to get really frustrated when I’m physically sedated but running at full speed mentally. Like, that’s just plain wasteful because I’m too sluggish to do anything useful or interesting but I’m too alert to fall asleep. So I leave all the lights on (because, like any bully might similarly escalate, my racing thoughts interpret a darkened room as an invitation to race faster and louder). It seems like an intuitive solution except it doesn’t really work.

I’ve had trouble falling asleep since I was a kid. My brain doesn’t like to pause without serious persuasion. My doctor asked me like twice in the last month to stop using weed so much (I smoke and I consume edibles, hence “using” which feels like a weird word here, but it’s the only one that makes sense). I said, “no promises,” but that I’d try. I have shitty impulse control as it is, so, when I’m lying awake resenting my slumbering husband or the drowsing cats or the relative silence in the alley outside my bedroom window, it’s kind of asking a lot of me not to avail myself of the one thing that’s basically guaranteed to get me to sleep soundly in the space of 20 minutes. (insert burbly bong noise here…then remove it because I’m not a huge fan of bongs, just their noises).

But we bipolar folk are special and, as such, special things sometimes happen to us when we do things that aren’t special for most people. There’s a good deal of evidence-ish that suggests that marijuana can trigger or worsen mania. In my experience, this is only sometimes true. If I’m already hypomanic, getting stoned might do one of two things: a) mellow me out and make me sleepy or b) exacerbate my racing thoughts by making them louder and weirder. The latter only really happens to me when I use certain strains of weed – specifically sativas which give most people a more wakeful high and which don’t help me sleep at all, so I steer clear. I’ve never had a hypomanic episode that resulted purely from marijuana use, or even largely from marijuana use. As far as I can tell, my hypomanic episodes are affected by sleep deprivation, seasons changing and modifications to my meds more than any other variables I can think of right now. I could be wrong about this. Assuming I don’t die an untimely death, I have like 5ish more decades to…observe…my moods in relation to my weed usage. I could even start right this second. For science…(go ahead and throw that bong noise back up here….and then remove it once again because I don’t own a bong, I really don’t care for them).

Again, because we’re special, most bipolar folks react differently to alcohol than other people generally do. I’ve had like 4 full drinks in the past 5 months. I used to be a really heavy drinker. Then I woke up one day and didn’t feel like drinking anymore. I don’t know what changed. I just don’t feel like it. I might feel like it again in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the reduction in migraines and mood fluctuations. Drinking makes me depressed, but not until the next day and it’s a little embarrassing how long it took me to connect those dots because of the very obvious cause and effect therein, Laura. I’m not as stupid as I stupid sometimes, but sometimes I stupid harder than necessary.

I counted my pills and I guess I did take an Ambien last night. Which accounts for my current grogginess, probably. I’m supposed to have a friend over tonight and he’s a super chill dude so it looks like I have a pretty mellow evening ahead of me. I’m a little bothered by how comforting that prospect is. It’s 61 fucking degrees out today. 61. That’s approaching let’s-see-how-far-naked-Laura-can-run-from-the-cops-before-being-arrested-for-indecency weather. I have been working out more. And I don’t want to waste a temperate, sunny day in March, because we don’t get a lot of those here. I wish I knew how to ride a bike. I mean, I know how to ride a bike, just not better than a 7 year-old can and adults aren’t allowed to ride on the sidewalk. I tend to yell at those who do. Upbraiding strangers is a skill. I’m really good at it.

It just occurred to me that, if I wanna, I can stick post-it notes to my cats – one that says “get stoned” and one that says “don’t” – and then have them race down the stairs. Except I know who’ll win. Daphne bunny hops down the stairs and, while it’s adorable, it’s not as efficient as Artie’s method, which my husband describes as a “controlled fall”. Ok, this post is clearly derailing. I think I’m gonna hang out on the deck with a guitar or something because, you guys, 61 degrees. 61.

-LB

Dreams

I have 3 types of recurring dreams: the Refugee Dream, the Ever-Expanding House Dream and nightmares that I think I have more frequently than most adults do but I don’t really ask around about this shit so everybody else might be having nightmares all the time like I do. Dunno.

The “refugee” in the Refugee dream is a word I use kind of loosely. Sometimes I am a refugee. Most of the time I’m not. The identifying trait of the Refugee Dream is me frantically looking for things and running out of time to collect them. Sometimes I’m dashing through a hardware store gathering what I feel are necessities: lightbulbs, sheets of plywood, picture framing hardware. Sometimes I’m in a massive cosmetics department at a drugstore and I keep finding items that I can’t stand not to snatch up. I mean look how many colors of eyeshadow they have! And it’s so inexpensive! I could buy like 14 different colors of eyeshadow while I’m here and I could totally afford it (the weird thing about that bit is that I wear eyeshadow pretty infrequently, but Dream Laura apparently needs all the fucking eyeshadow that ever existed, even in colors that would look clownish on me). I’m never alone in the Refugee dream. There’s always someone telling me that we need to leave the store now and that it’s urgent that we go I can’t possibly keep shopping, which is the point at which I get really stressed out because I can’t leave until I have everything I could possibly want or need – regardless of my inability to even carry all of it and regardless of any true need to possess any of it – because I know, somehow, that I’ll never be coming back. When my mom was in the process of selling my childhood home I had the Refugee dream for real about twice a week. I’d dream that some unnamed malevolence was forcing me and my loved ones to flee and I’d only have a few minutes to pack the absolute necessities. I totally choke in that situation. I keep finding things I’m sure I’m going to need because I know that the journey ahead of me is going to be really rough and I need to be prepared. I’m never able to take everything I want and I’m usually hauled off by my more sensible company with a cartoonishly overstuffed suitcase and as many layers of clothing as I can stand to wear. The urgency in all of the Refugee dreams is never completely explained. Who’s forcing me to flee my home? Why can’t I come back to the store tomorrow and buy more lightbulbs or eyeshadow? What am I late for? What am I making everyone else late for? At any rate, I never get everything I’m seeking and it totally freaks me out.

About 8 or 9 years ago, Doctors Without Borders ran a traveling refugee camp. The point of the tour was to show people what it’s like to live as a refugee. The DWB veteran who hosted it when it came through my city it took us through a miniaturized version of a makeshift sanctuary. She began by telling us that we had exactly 5 minutes to pack and to decide right now what to take and what to leave. She also mentioned that 5 minutes was kind of generous because some people get 0 minutes and just have to start running. We walked through the mock camp, crawled around in cramped little tarp and canvass tents, were given food and water rations, shown the bathroom facilities (hole in the ground), got our shots or medications if we were lucky, got sent to the cholera tent to die horribly if we weren’t. It was an excellent exhibit and was extremely eye opening. I hope they do it again because anybody who gives even half a shit about other human beings should know what it’s like (even in miniature) for the millions of displaced people on Earth whose lives are, as Thomas Hobbes put it: nasty, brutish and short – by no fault of their own. Tangent, but this was an important moment for my developing moral compass and it ended up getting tangled up in my dreams.

The Ever-Expanding House dream is trippy as fuck. When I was younger, the dream usually started in my grandparents’ basement. I’d find a door that lead to a sub-basement and then another door there and so on, descending without any endpoint. Every level is different and really cool and I get really excited that I’ve found access to all these sweet new places to explore. As an adult, I tend to dream about my own house. I move in and start poking around and I keep finding more and more cool spots furnished with wacky shit: Dr. Seuss-esque shower heads, steps that lead to nowhere, massive bridges that connect one hidey-hole to another, ice cream (for some reason…). I’m usually bummed when I wake up after an Ever-Expanding House dream because after that shit, my real life surroundings are depressingly banal by comparison. The house is labyrinthine and, the longer I sleep, the more I find. If I slept forever, I’d never see the whole house. There’s usually someone exploring with me. It’s usually my sister or a friend. Usually the kind of dream friend that doesn’t exist in real life but in your dream has known you since preschool. Everything in this dream is dazzling and it’s always mine to keep, no matter how much I find. I guess that’d make it the opposite of the Refugee dream.

My nightmares are almost always intensely violent and extremely sad. Waking up confused and crying is dumb as hell and I hate that I do it so much. A few nights ago, I dreamt that my sister and I were being executed. They killed her first. They tried to behead her but couldn’t make it work, so they plunged a sword into her lung. I kept screaming and crying and telling her that I loved her as she was bleeding out in the grass, knowing that I was next. I woke up before they killed me. No one ever told us what we did to deserve death, but I don’t remember claiming to be innocent or even pleading for my life because I knew it was futile. I had about 8 seconds to accept death and I spent them fighting to make sure that the last thing my sister ever heard was that she was loved. When I was a teenager, I once dreamt that I was being chased through the woods by a serial killer. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to outrun him so I decided to kill myself before he got the chance. I slit my wrists and woke up just as I was blacking out on the forest floor. I still remember the color of the leaves. I also remember smiling because, despite having to forfeit my life, I had won. Futility is the main theme in most of my nightmares. I know something bad is going to happen, I know I can’t stop it and I know I have very little time to decide what to do about the situation. I guess it’s sort of a test of my mettle, but Dream Laura is a lot braver than Real Laura so most of the time the only thing these nightmares accomplish is making me really upset.

People have myriad notions about the significance of dreams. I, personally, don’t think that my dreams are delivered to me by any external sentience. This shit comes from inside my own head. After 7.5 years of therapy, I know myself well enough to get a rough idea of why I dream the way that I do. An overly reductive interpretation might be:

Refugee Dream: insecurity, inadequacy, anxiety, fear of change

Ever-Expanding House Dream: hopefulness, inquisitiveness, novelty, imagination,

Nightmares: sometimes I’m just a fucking bummer, man

There’s probably a lot more going on than that. It took me an embarrassingly long time to connect the dots between the sale of my childhood home and my dreams of being forced out of comfort and safety. I think my dreams tell me things about myself. I think, much of the time, my dreams tell me what I’m afraid of. I have other recurring dreams, but they’re pretty garden variety: losing my teeth, having a kid, talking to my dead dad. Those don’t interest me much. If the lost teeth thing sounds familiar to you, it should. Almost everybody at some time (or many times) has a dream wherein their teeth crack, break or fall out. Along with things being on fire, missing or damaged teeth appear in bad dreams more than almost anything else. The prevailing theory on the teeth thing is that it’s spawned by stress, anxiety or a lack or self confidence. That makes sense to me. An aside, but I think it’s kind of cool that something so specific is as common as it is. Unity and solidarity and stuff. Neat. Stressful, but neat.

I went to bed really late last night. I didn’t get enough sleep because I can’t sleep in anymore. I don’t know why. I made it to about 9:30 but I had intended to get up at like noon so I’d actually get a full 8 hours. No dice. I was bummed when I woke up because I had been having an Ever-Expanding House dream and there were Dreamsicles involved (cute, right?). But disturbed sleep patterns, even if it’s just one day of bad sleep or too much sleep or not enough sleep can totally fuck with a bipolar person’s moods. We’re more sensitive to sleep issues than most people. More on that some other time.

So, I guess I could’ve started the post by noting that most people don’t find hearing about other people’s dreams to be especially interesting, but if you’ve made it this far: Hi! ‘Sup? Titties! Sorry… My psychiatrist, though, usually encourages me to talk about my dreams if they seem significant. Sometimes the weird shit I dream up can help her help me untangle some knotted up feelings that I can’t articulate well. Several dozen times I’ve dreamt that I had the opportunity to say goodbye to my dad; to tell him that I love him and that I miss him like crazy. I didn’t get to do that in real life. It’s bittersweet as hell but I think it’s probably good for me, especially because I don’t believe in an afterlife, so near-death Dream Dad is the closest I’ll get to the kind of closure I wasn’t lucky enough to experience. I like that my doc thinks my dreams are worth talking about. Otherwise, I’d be having a shit ton of intense feelings about technically nothing and not knowing what to do with the cloudy emotional residue my dreams leave behind. Some people tell me they don’t dream at all. My sister says she doesn’t. So does my husband. They’re both really sound sleepers. I am not. I wonder if they’re missing out or something. I mean, I could do without all the nightmare violence and bizarre stress behavior, but I got a Dreamsicle last night and I’m pretty sure they didn’t. So that’s something, I s’pose.

-LB