Friday, December 4, 2015

Sleepless in Springfield

     I woke up at 4 a.m. again. That's been happening since mid-August. Sleep is something I work for, like a nighttime job.
     Two or three Benadryl tabs do the trick for falling asleep but then I wake up a few hours later when they wear off. Sometimes, I take another one or two around  3 a.m., but they only work until around six or seven at the latest.
      Insomnia has been my nighttime companion for as long as I can remember, but my new seizure meds have made it worse. My mind wakes up "too busy" to go back to sleep, hours before the new day begins.
      Even as a little girl, I woke up at least once or twice during the night. I was the last one asleep at pajama parties, the one tip-toeing down the hall to use the dorm bathroom in college.
     Everyone tells me to nap. I can't.
     Over the years, I have made friends with other insomniacs and nighttime animals like foxes and possums and fruit bats; it's lonely being awake when everyone else is asleep.
     The Internet makes it better and worse at the same time.
     Facebook and Instagram wake up my mind too much because I start to think about people I miss, but Pinterest helps.
     Stephen King keeps me company in bed sometimes. His stories don't give me bad dreams, maybe even the opposite because I really get into his ideas on the mind and religion.
     I try to stay in bed when I can't sleep but sometimes get up and creep around in the dark like a ghost lady until I feel sleepy again.
     I don't turn on the lights because that makes it worse.
     Prescription sleeping pills are too strong. I tried them about 15 years ago when my sons were little, but it was a disaster. The pills knocked me out while I was still on the couch, and I had to wake myself back up to get the boys into bed.
     Ambien gave me nightmares and I flushed the pills down the toilet, like a spooky potion I didn't want in my house.
    Neurologists say it isn't healthy to interrupt my normal sleep patterns with strong pills like that anyway. I had a sleeping test done a few years ago where they glued wires on my head and had me sleep in a pretend bedroom.
     It was the best night's sleep I had in years. The attendant had to bang on the door the next morning to wake me up so he could go home. I think I was taking Trazodone for sleep at the time, which made me feel kinda hungover every morning.
    Trazodone is an "old school" antidepressant doctors prescribe for insomnia because it makes people sleepy right after taking it. My sons called it my "loopy pill" because I sometimes said goofy stuff after taking it at night..funny things we still laugh about.
     My doctor prescribed Elavil for the same reason at the end of October, but I've already stopped taking it because I felt slow during the day and wasn't getting anything done except laundry and dishes. It made my stomach hurt, too, and I had to go to another doctor for that.
     I wish doctors considered sleep to be more important than controlling seizures.
     Then I could be free to just be me, and maybe sleep past 4 a.m. again.

     I took my label off, by the way.
     Nobody wants to talk about epilepsy.
     Nobody wants to see or think about it.
     I would rather keep a dangerous secret than see the look in other people's eyes when they judge me as being defective.