I’ve had a serious case of insomnia for decades now. Sometimes it is because my mind just won’t shut the ever-living-fuck up (much like a hamster on an exercise wheel – except it’s on crack). Other times, it’s simpler than that. Sometimes, it’s the fact that I am bloody exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally – but my pain levels are such that there is simply no actual position that will allow me to relax anything enough to sleep. I have some tools that sometimes help with that – like long, hot baths.
Then, there’s nights like tonite. Here it is, 3:57 am, and I’m just not able to sleep. Not because I’m distracted by Facebook, Hulu or some other Internet time waster. It’s because I just can’t relax even enough to START to feel tired.
My doctor has been working with me on trying to find that magical combination of things that will allow me to sleep a regular schedule (not change my circadian, but simply be able to go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at a reasonable hour in relation to that bedtime). Right now, I’m on the absolute maximum dosage I can take of Amitriptyline, on top of which I end up taking the smallest possible dosage of clonazePAM for it’s sedative effects. Yes, the former is also supposed to help for depression, and the latter for anxiety. And, of course, I also take citalipram to help modify both depression and anxiety.
The depression, at least, seems to have reached some form of plateau. It’s still there, still active, and still a massive pain in my ass – but it’s neither getting worse nor better, which I’m going to for once take at least as a minor victory that it’s not getting worse. The anxiety levels however have been going through the damned roof.
The major things don’t seem to trigger the panic attacks anymore. Hearing our rather abusive neighbor scream at his family triggered me pretty much every time I heard it. My 17-year-old nephew also kept triggering it. Not because he’s abusive or anything like my ex, but simply because he’s a fairly normal 17-yr-old male. No, the issue is that many of his more negative behaviors (that are somewhat expected in a 17 year old, although will hopefully eventually be grown out of) are exactly the same behaviors that my ex exhibited. What is a reasonable expectation for a teenager who is still learning and maturing is utterly abhorrent in a 40+ year old man.
There were other triggers, but those two were the most often repeated ones. And as those triggers started to lose their power, the severe form of acid reflux that I’ve had for the last decade ALSO (just like the high blood pressure) seemed to go away.
What’s got the anxiety ramping up more recently are the more minor triggers. One of my more recent attacks happened while I was visiting my parents in their home. Mom and I were talking about sewing, and Dad was watching TV. BOOM, panic attack. You’d think that wouldn’t cause one, but there’s a backstory there.
My ex – because his computer more often than not was located somewhere near the TV – tended to monopolize the TV. If anyone else in the house wanted to watch something, it didn’t matter – or was agreed to grudgingly. And worse, he would be watching TV and being on the computer at the same time (and sometimes even also on the phone). And again, no one else was allowed to use the TV.
But the real issue behind this panic attack was that whenever the rest of us would also be sitting in the living room, talking – he would have a hissy fit because he couldn’t hear his TV clearly (even while he was texting with 3-5 other people….mostly women….on Facebook). So, no talking – not even whispers – not in the living room. And if we were watching something with him, no editorial comments (or even sounds) were allowed either – even during the commercials.
So, here I am, in a situation I have been in multiple times over the last two years with Dad watching the TV and Mom and I talking. Multiple times in which a panic attack was NEVER triggered. Yet this time it triggered a pretty damned bad one. Thankfully, I was able to talk about it with my parents, and talk through it.
Because the minor issues are pretty much triggering some form of anxiety multiple times a day, I’m finding my acid reflux coming back fairly badly. The other day, after yet another one, I actually ended up having a small vomiting of stomach acid (totally a first for me). Now, I’m back on the acid reducers, but at least this time I know that I will eventually be able to take them only rarely eventually.
I know this is all part of the recovery. Really I do. But, sitting in a silent house with everyone else asleep makes it very difficult to not allow my depression to slip back in. Loneliness, missing people I truly care about (and not just my boyfriend), a certain amount of hopelessness – these are all the things that hit me when I can’t sleep and find myself just before dawn and still awake.