Insomnia: The Struggle Is Real
[Advanced warning notice: This post turned out to be much longer than anticipated so feel free to read the whole post, skim through it, or skip around!]
It’s almost 6 in the morning and the bright, beaming sun will begin to rise soon and I still haven’t slept yet. My body feels exhausted and physically drained. I’m struggling with some mental fogginess as well. At this point, I am not even sure if I will make sense to anyone other than myself.
I haven’t been sleeping too well these last two months or so. I haven’t slept through the night in about the same length of time. I wake up several times a night every single night. Most nights falling back to sleep is nearly impossible and can take up to three hours. I rarely ever nap during the day either because, for some reason, napping while it’s light outside makes me feel guilty like I am doing something wrong.
On average, I get anywhere from 4-6 hours of broken and restless sleep a night. This means that I just keep losing sleep without being able to make it up. I am surely sleep-deprived.
Some days, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to have too much of an effect on me but other days feeling so run down all the time just leaves me in a miserable and cranky mood. I supposed that is to be expected though.
What doesn’t help with my moodiness and sleep-deprivation right now is the fact that I have been off of my mood stabilizers for a few weeks now. I had been on Vraylar nearly 3 years and Abilify for a year and within that time span I haven’t seen much improvement and I have continued to have rapid cycling bipolar episodes the entire time.
About 2-3 weeks ago I called my psychiatrist’s office during the middle of a bad, agitated manic episode and demanded to speak to my doctor about my medications not helping and about how I felt like it was time to try something new. Doing this got me absolutely nowhere at first. My doctor wouldn’t take 5 minutes out of her busy day to talk to a patient who clearly wasn’t in their right state of mind (meaning me).
Instead she kept having the one nurse call me to give me ideas or to relay my options. Out of the time she took to keep going back and forth with the nurse, she seriously could have just picked up the phone to check in with me. I got incredibly agitated and frustrated because my doctor was refusing to speak directly to me. I told the nurse that if my doctor don’t care why should I and I explained that I was fed up and would just simply stop taking my mood stabilizers since they weren’t helping anyway.
I felt like I was just being brushed off and pushed to the side. I was always told to reach out when you need help and that’s what I was trying to do. I just don’t understand why a mental health professional would blow off a patient in the kind of manic state that I was in. It made me feel like my mental health care team could give a shit less about me. Out of anger and frustration I did stop taking my mood stabilizers. I called my psych doctors office around the beginning of August and still have not talked to her directly and most likely won’t until my next appointment on 9/10/20.
The one good thing that did come from me calling my psychiatrist’s office was that I got to have a phone appointment about two weeks after I initially called the office with the new Physician’s Assistant who honestly seemed like she cared about me and my wellbeing. She was thorough and asked all the right questions. The PA was the first person I had an appointment with in a very long time that seemed genuinely sincere from the mental health clinic that I go to.
The PA had a good point. We have to try to get my sleep struggles under control because not sleeping well for extended periods of time can really impact a person’s mental health. She asked me if I have frequent nightmares and what they were about. She determined that a lot of my nightmares were PTSD related.
So she put me on Prazosin (Minipress) which is a blood pressure medication that has been found to help with PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. She said it could also make me drowsy which might help me sleep better. I started this med on 8/18/20 and while the nightmares and flashbacks have surprisingly decreased, it does not make me drowsy or help with my sleep in any other way. The PA also reduced the dose of my mood stabilizers in hopes that I would properly wean myself off of them (I was not fully honest about how long ago I stopped taking them so she legally had to prescribe me the wean-off dosages before she could start me on something else) so that I could try to start a new mood stabilizer the next time I see my psychiatrist which is still a week away.
I can’t lie though, for being off of all mood stabilizers I am doing a hell of a lot better than even I anticipated. In the past when I have abruptly stopped my psych meds I always wound up in a Behavioral Health Unit (Psych Ward) for a few days.
The only thing that is majorly different from the past to the present is that I am able to utilize my medical marijuana when needed. The only part about that which sucks is the price of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper to purchase illegally which is pretty damn sad. As a rough example, you can typically get the marijuana flower for $35-$40 for an eighth of an ounce (from what I hear) on the street and at the dispensary you are looking at an average price of $60 for the same damn strain and amount. It’s mind boggling! 🤯
However, at the dispensary I usually go to, they do at least offer me a 25% off discount on certain products since I have state issued Medicaid for my medical coverage. What sucks though is (if you suck at math like me) you still have to have enough cash to cover the list price anyway since the discount isn’t calculated until after you hand the dispensary workers your cash. So, yeah, sometimes I do get some cash back in the end but that doesn’t really help too much at the time when I need to come up with enough money to cover the list prices.
Besides the sleep-deprivation and regular bipolar mood swings and anxiety that I know will never subside since there is no cures for any type of mental health disorder, I am actually doing okay for the most part.
My living arrangements have changed once again, but I am seriously hoping this is my last move for a while unless we can find a better and more financial friendly apartment. I got back together with my ex-boyfriend, Mike, and we are going to give living together and being together another try. I moved back in with him about 2- 3 weeks ago now.
Things are going surprisingly well between us. We have had some disagreements and arguments but we aren’t letting our anger get the best of us like it once did. If we have to, one of us will walk away or go in another room. I am trying to be more mindful about how my occasional agitation, anger, and irritability come out toward other people. I understand that when I am in a bad mood that I tend to take my frustrations out on others or that I can sometimes just be outright mean to people but I am trying my hardest to work on it.
I hate when I am bitchy and mean toward the people who mean the most to me. It generally ends up leaving me feeling like a total jerk and then my anxiety will try to lie to me and tell me that I am some kind of horrible monster that everyone dislikes being around. I end up being much harder on myself than I was to the person I was mean too. It’s a lose-lose kind of situation. If I made someone feel bad or belittled I will always be that much harder on myself.I just don’t get how some people can be mean to other human beings most of the time without feeling a twinge of guilt?
I had to pretty much give up on trying to get disability. I wasted the last three years of my life trying to fight and show complete strangers the chaos that goes on inside my mind but the strangers who get paid to pass judgement on those with a mental disability could care less about what someone they don’t know battles inside their head on a daily basis.
And according to my disability lawyer, thanks to our sexist, raciest, pig of a United States President (Trump) the disability judges have pretty much been told to deny almost everyone including those who seriously can not work even if they wanted to. I mean, I struggle with a dissociative disorder and “blackout” episodes and lose track of time more than I would like to admit which can potentially be dangerous at a place of employment (or pretty much anywhere out in the world) and the people that decide who is eligible for disability benefits pretty much said that dissociating and not knowing what you’re doing all the time isn’t that serious.
Like, okay. If it’s not that bad or big of a deal, I would love to see the person who thought dissociative disorders were a joke or something I just made up to drink enough alcohol several times a week so that they can experience a blackout (since dissociative disorders and alcohol/drugs are the only things I am aware of that could cause these types of blackouts) and then they can tell me how easy it is to function when you can’t recall what you did, where you were, who you talked to, or anything else that happened in your life for a few hours at a time.
The whole situation just completely frustrates me and it’s hard to deal with the fact that I fought tooth and nail for three long years for absolutely nothing. I got no where, and now I have yet another gap in my employment record to have to try to explain to potential employers.
Thinking about reentering the workforce is overwhelming and anxiety producing. I have failed at all 20+ jobs that I have held in my life so it’s hard to think that this time will be any different for me. Everytime I try to hold down a job I end up with one too many mental breakdowns and end up requiring time off of work for intensive mental health treatments such as partial hospitalization programs or even inpatient stays.
My last job, back in 2017, I got to the point where I started having panic attacks in front of my clients and then getting chewed out by my superiors for unprofessional behavior. I would miss a lot of work and call off too often. My longest job since I started working at the age of 13 only lasted about two years.
I am really going to have to work hard at getting and staying as stable as possible. The only thing is, I am not quite sure how to achieve that.
I applied to a few jobs the past couple of weeks and only got one call back from a human services agency that is similar to the work I did with three other companies in the past. I have to go Friday to fill out an even more extensive background check and also for a drug test I believe.
There’s only one thing that has my anxiety sky high about trying to lock down this job position. I don’t know their stance on employees having a medical marijuana card. There are two possible outcomes. The first is that they are okay with it since it’s legally prescribed as long as I don’t use any on the job. Or, they will outright deny my because they are not yet accepting of it since medical marijuana is relatively new in my state.
I don’t even know anyone else who has the medical marijuana card that has also had to try to find work. I don’t know what my legal rights are, if any, if a potential employer should say that my medical card is why the won’t hire me. Would that be considered discrimination since it’s a legally prescribed medication? Right now, I have more questions than answers and as Friday creeps near I’m really starting to freak out and panic about this. If it weren’t for this technical issue I would be almost certain that they would hire me. And at this point, I need this job.
I did not anticipate this post turning out to be this long. It has just been some time since my last personal blog post (which was titled “Happy (Belated) Birthday To Me” from 8/6/20) and I guess I had a lot more to say than I originally thought. 🤷♀️
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Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Insomnia, Mental Health, Our Personal Blog, Samantha Steiner, Samantha's Personal Blog
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.
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