I can trace a good deal of the issues in my life to my struggles with insomnia. I think most experts in the field of medicine can agree that sleep is one of the most important parts of mental health. It is no wonder why when I fail to sleep well one night in can snowball into many nights in a row of no sleep. When this happens in my life, it means all bad.
My psychiatrists over the years and my therapist believe that my own current struggles with depression and social anxiety have its roots in my issues with insomnia. Looking back at my life, the problems that I have with sleep go back to when I was seven. I can’t remember a time when sleep was not an issue in my life.
As a kid, I would spend my nights honing my skills and Role Playing gamer usually until two or three in the morning. Gaming became my way to fill time when sleep failed to find me. As a teen, I would spend even more time at night not sleeping and it was common for me to go day or two with no sleep. I got better at being an RPG gamer simply because it made the time pass with no sleep interesting.
I was a teenager when I first found sleeping medication a helpful way to finally get sleep. I wouldn’t use it every day, but when my sleep got to levels that would become a familiar part of my life, days without sleep, it was common to reach for a sleeping aid. Most of my teenage and young adult years I used over the counter sleep medication to curb my insomnia.
In my early twenties, just before my diagnosis with Bipolar One, I was prescribed my first prescription strength sleeping medication. I will always remember my experiences with Ambien because it affected me in funny ways for the month that I took this sleeping medication. At least I can laugh at it now. I know these experiences only through word of mouth from my family, but with I took Ambien it was common for me to sleepwalk and once I was found outside my house in the cold.
Perhaps the weirdest, or funniest I can’t decide, is that sleepwalked falling through a glass table without injuring myself (I often slept in a zip-up hoodie.) I was found asleep laying in the glass from the table by my family.
Insomnia has always been an issue that leads to other problems including depression and anxiety. Over the years, my doctors prescribed me with several different sleeping medications to supplement my Seroquel. As of now, I am off sleeping medications because over the years they have become ineffective. Now I must rely on Seroquel alone at night.
Seroquel is a well known antipsychotic and I have taken this medication every day for the last ten years for my Bipolar one issues, but I also use this medication for sleep. It has been the most effective medication to combat my insomnia. There is good and bad when it comes to Seroquel and my life. It is effective in high doses. I have taken as high as the maximum allowed (according to my psychiatrists) at 600mg.
Over the years I have worked to lessen the need for Seroquel in my struggle with sleep. At points in my life I have taken as low as a 300mg dose, but in the last few years, my struggles with the effectiveness of taking Seroquel for so many years has made it a battle every night. My dosage now varies on a night to night based on how much sleep I got the night before. The unfortunate reality of my life is my dosage has been at 500mg most nights.
Insomnia is the one thing that seems to be unmanageable in my life. I have my struggles with depression and social anxiety daily, but I have found solace in my writing, meditation, and of course coffee. I am able to manage my other issues with the right combination of medication. But insomnia continues to bother me and it is a real unwanted companion.
There have been nights lately where a maximum dose of Seroquel doesn’t equate to sleep. It is something that will worry me moving on.
I can’t remember the last time I didn’t need Seroquel to sleep, and I believe fully that it is an addiction, but the flip side of that is not being able to sleep. It’s a tough road to be on and I don’t know what will be in store for my future.
Will I find a way to be less dependent on Seroquel or find a way to be off it all together? It is something for the future J.E. Skye to deal with I guess.
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Photo Credit: HS LEE