Saturday, January 14, 2006

To Sleep, Perchance to Wake Up Every Hour

I dunno about you but my biggest problem lately seems to be a sudden screw-up in my sleep patterns.

Here's the drill:
  1. Go to bed at 11:30
  2. Lie in bed for 45 minutes with at least ten topics jumping around my brain such as:
    • If I decide to redesign this Aran sweater, which motifs should I use? And how should I place them?
    • Where did I put that reference book?
    • Do I really want to go back to school?
    • Why hasn't my brother-in-law called me lately?
    • Should I call him?
    • Did I forget to buy toothpaste?
    • Maybe I could move to New Hampshire
    • Maybe I should go back to work at a real job instead of writing a book
    • Should I include a chapter about weaving and spinning in the book?
    • Do I want to get married again? If I did, who would I marry anyways?
  3. Get up and get a drink of water
  4. Go back to bed
  5. Count backwards from 10
  6. Switch positions
  7. Look at the clock
  8. Doze off
  9. Wake up an hour later
  10. Look at the clock
  11. Repeat from Step 1.
Now I don't mind taking my regular meds but I sure as shit don't like sleeping medications. First of all, they make me groggy, which is an entirely different state than just being tired. Second, if I don't have to take something, then I won't. However, I'm always worried that poor sleep can morph into a full-blown manic episode where I just don't sleep at all. Of course, being manic means being hugely productive. But then, there are other not-so-great things about being manic. Like the ensuing paranoia, the gross irritibilty and the inevitable crasho grande.

So I've been trying melatonin, which is a homeopathic sleep aid and really can't do much harm. I buy my vitamins at GNC, so I'm pretty sure the quality is OK. I'm all for homeopathic remedies as long as they aren't harmful and they work in conjunction with my meds. One that I've found doesn't work for me is St. John's Wort. (It should never be taken with antidepressants, incidentally.) I know a lot of people swear by it but when I hit a depression, I do the best with regular pharmaceuticals. Paxil CR works well for me.

Actually, in its way, lithium is all natural, since it's an element and a salt. I guess there's some comfort in that, although the side effects can be a bitch.

The melatonin seems to have helped quite a bit. It certainly makes me sleepy and shuts off the brain chatter for a bit. However, the chatter and the poor sleep cycles probably have little to do with each other. I suspect that the chatter needs be dealt by a medication increase. That will come in a few weeks, when I see my new pdoc.

I'm glad that people are reading this blog and that it's been of some use. As with any blog, generally the writer gets the biggest rewards from writing it, not the reader who reads it.

However, if you knit and you're crazy, then I'm your woman. For sure.


Dharma said...

Well, I knit, am crazy, have a crazy mama - so I'm your woman!

Kathleen Valentine said...

Marilyn, thank you for starting this blog. I'm not bipolar but have another issue I am dealing with and your blog is an inspiration - I admire your courage.

I have forwarded the URL to some friends who might appreciate it.

And I also knit and am crazy......

Christina said...

It seems like a lot of people with a mental/mood disorder cannot use sleep aides. I know that I can't take sleeping meds because I just can't wake up and function well. If I could, I would sleep 12 hours on a pill like Ambien.

For reference, I've been told by more than one doctor that St. John's Wort can induce manic episodes. I told the last doc that I'd prefer being manic over being so damned depressed!

Barb B. said...

Well, Mar, at least what's running through your head are useful questions. My sleep experience is pretty similar except the questions seem more on the paranoid side "will the old fart be pissed off (at whatever)" No, nothing pisses him off so why am I worrying? "Did I pay enough income tax? What if I didn't?" crap like that. The only thing that helps sometimes is using the "biofeedback" I learned years ago for handling migraines. I can take a sleeping pill, very mild one. It is supposed to work for 6 hours, usually I get about 4 hours sleep on it, then wake up every hour.
I'll have to train my brain to ask useful questions.
Barb B.

Marilyn said...

I've heard that about St. John's Wort too, Christina. And I agree--I'd rather be manic than depressed, although mania unto itself has its problems. I tend towards a dysphoric mania, which makes me irritible and paranoid, neither of which I much like. However, I know when I'm both and I'm able to remain reasonable somehow.

Kathleen, writing this blog isn't about being brave or courageous. I think that so much of what I am is due to the disorder, in a good way. And I value honesty above all other things. So it's important to me to be honest with others as well as myself.

pawdua said...

You can try Valerian, an herbal compound that helps you calm down. It doesn't make you sleepy and it isn't a CNS depressant. A friend who is a neurologist specializing in sleep disorders reccomended it since I take Zoloft. Try 2 500 mg cpasules, but it really smells bad.


kimd said...

I knit and my 11 yo son is early onset bipolar, so I'm at least a camp follower.

I've read your other blog for over a year now. Since DS was diagnosed last Jan, your occaisional comments regarding your illness have been helpful for me as a mom in the "well, he may not have a smooth ride, but this doesn't mean it's a train straight to hell either" kind of vein. When you announced that you were starting this blog, I followed along. It has so far been very enlightening for me as a parent of someone with this disorder. (A side benefit to your intended purpose.)

A year after diagnosis, DS is a walking advertisement for better living through modern chemistry - Abilfy & Concerta (for the comorbid ADHD symptoms) have changed his life, and his family's, for the better. Personally, I thank you for starting this blog; it has created a unique window into this illness for me. Also, not that you really care about my opinion, I am all for any and all open, frank and public discussions about this disorder and mental illness in general since this has crashed into our lives. In some ways, sick as it may sound, it would have been easier to be the mom of DS's classmate who was diagnosed with a brain tumor than it was to find out DS is bipolar.

Anonymous said...

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soju said...

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