Sleep has been hard to come by these days. Soon after my final deadline was moved up, I started spending a good portion of the night stewing rather than snoring. I’d awaken in the middle of the night and take hours to fall back to sleep. My mind was consumed with thoughts of death.
Lack of sleep is not good for me, or for anyone, for that matter. When I’m exhausted, I’m an emotional wreck, and you know how crying makes me bleed. Chronic exhaustion affects all aspects of my functioning during the day. My concentration is shot, my balance is off, and I become a danger to myself. J. wisely hides my car keys, as she should.
We psychologists are stoic ones, hesitating to ask for help unless we really need it. Insomnia? No problem. I know how to manage that, as I’ve proven through past sleep disruptions.
Through this most recent upheaval, I kept to my usual wake-sleep schedule, I tried not to nap unless my body demanded it, and I maintained my usual bedtime rituals to ready my body for bed, i.e., completing my bathroom routine (yes, flossing included), taking my bedtime pills, and finally reading in bed until I was drowsy. Once lights were out, or if I woke during the night, I shifted focus to my breath, which often helps me fall asleep.
Despite my efforts, nothing was working. Out of desperation, I did something I never thought I’d do: I asked for help. Pharmaceutical help. My medical team obliged without hesitation. Within minutes, I had a prescription for a highly addictive anti-anxiety medication awaiting me at my local pharmacy. I requested the lowest dose possible, but I was advised to allow myself to use what I needed to benefit me.
I have taken one of these pills every night since they were prescribed, and on one occasion, with great hesitation, two pills. Some nights the medication is more effective than others. I was concerned I might feel hung over in the mornings, but my quality of sleep has improved greatly and I wake up feeling as refreshed as a chronically fatigued person can feel.
I realize I run the risk of becoming addicted to these pills, but this point in my life, does that really matter? So I am doing something I never thought I would do: relying on medication to help me sleep. And I’m trying to tell you without feeling embarrassed about it. If you were in my shoes, I know I wouldn’t judge you. Why am I always so much harder on myself? Maybe it’s time to give that up.
The pills are not a panacea, however. My sleep is still poor some nights, and even after a good sleep, I’m still fatigued, especially if I’m anemic. After a great sleep on the weekend, I needed a nap by 11 a.m. Countering the insomnia has not eliminated the fatigue; it has simply eased it until my next red-blood-cell transfusion.
I am scheduled for two units of little reds tomorrow. I envision an excellent sleep Tuesday night, and a perky day, or maybe even a week or two following. And my pharmaceutically improved sleep can only help. Now, if I could just take those little pills without shame….