I get lots and lots of sleep. So so so much sleep. Not because I go to bed early or because I turn off all electronics an hour before bed or have a great bedtime ritual or anything. Nope. None of those good things.
I get a ton of sleep for one reason only… because I am terrible at waking up. Terrible!
Always have been, probably always will be. It’s ridiculous. Ask my husband. He hates it. It’s not even a snooze problem. It’s a shut-the-alarm-off-and-go-completely-back-to-sleep-without-even-realizing-the-alarm-ever-sounded problem. (Or wake-up-imagining-I-overslept-at-3:18-am-and-immediately-jump-panicking-into-the-shower-only-to-emerge-squeaky-clean-and-painfully-exhaustingly-ridiculously-early problem, granted that occurs less often these days.)
Over the past month or so, believe it or not, my inability to wake up has gotten even worse, but not for the normal (non-)reason. This time, it’s because even though I’m sleeping (for hours and hours and hours, as I said above), I’m still exhausted. Exhausted from some seriously vivid dreams. Mundane, but vivid.
So ridiculously vivid that I’m legitimately unsure at times if something is a real memory… or if it was just a dream. I literally cannot tell. And it’s freaking me out.
My depression is no secret, of course. We’ve talked about it before. Sometimes I feel down, really really down, and talking about it often makes me feel embarrassed, but it’s part of me and I do myself and others a disservice if I fail to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, except for humorous embellishment, so help me God. So I should probably mention this little bump in the road as well.
True story: a friend who recently discovered my blog says I have to come down off my pedestal now. Fair enough. 🙂
I have dealt with depression, off and on (except I think we know that it’s always really “on” in some capacity or another) since I was relatively young. As part of treatment, I have been on a number of different anti-depressant medications. The tricky thing about antidepressants is that they 1) take a while to work, 2) work differently for every individual, and 3) there’s no great way to know a) which one is going to work or b) what the exact side-effect profile, if any, is going to look like for you personally.
Oy– the uncertainty! It’s pretty traumatic, especially for someone who suffers from delusions of obtainable perfection. (Self-diagnosis.)
Most recently, I switched medications after a side-effect of the one (in me, specifically, of course) proved itself to be dramatic weight gain. And when I say dramatic, I mean it. Like 10-pounds-in-a-single-week dramatic. I could see that, I could feel that, but so could my prescriber. So after giving it some time (and a lot of pounds) we switched to something else. It’s been smooth sailing for a good six months or so. Maybe closer to a year. And then all of the sudden…
For the most part, I can deal with side-effects in a rational manner. I’ve dealt with dry mouth and weight gain, jitters and minor insomnia. Little things that I can see, attribute to the medication, and say, “but it’s worth it because the depression is at bay.”
Oh so worth it.
I tried to do the same thing for the dreams.
It’s just a dream. So you’re a little tired, have some tea. No big deal, you’re still getting lots and lots of sleep, as per usual.
Until I couldn’t. Because I’m too afraid of crazy. And this feeling? This feeling is crazy. Not ha ha, you craaaazy. Or you think I’m crazy? Whatevs. More along the lines of crap, this might be legitimately crazy. The uh oh one.
To not be able to tell what’s real… that’s too much.
So I went to see my prescriber one early morning this week. I got out of bed, quicker than usual, because she’s just the best, best, best. So good at simultaneously laughing at my jokes (because humor is generally how I deal and acknowledging that I’m funny is basically the best compliment a person can give me) while also taking me and my reports of the symptoms that are concerning me seriously. More clinicians could learn from the brilliant Celeste, I think. (Plus, she has an excellent name. Kudos to her parents.)
We’ve got a plan of action and a plan for ongoing communication about the symptoms. I’m tired, the dreams probably won’t go away immediately, but I do feel a sense of relief just knowing that the crazy (the scary kind) can be controlled, prevented, addressed, whatever. Thank goodness.
The thing that was most interesting to me in this instance is that I’ve frequently felt crazy in the first two ways I described. The ha ha way– I mean, this hair, right? It certainly has an air of crazy about it (that’s the frizz). And even the, oh, right, you think I’m crazy– whatevs, kind. I have tummy troubles and a weird case of hand eczema that I believe to be associated with gluten. Doctors don’t believe me. They think I’m crazy. Whatevs.
But being called crazy, even by a medical professional (implied only, granted I haven’t actually read my chart), frustrating as it may be, is not, in fact, scary like this is scary. That’s what this kind of crazy felt like.
And paradoxically, that actually makes me feel kind of proud. Because it means that I am trusting my body. Trusting my own symptoms and my own intuition to know when something is real, regardless of whether it is recognized.
I know that there is something wrong with my gastrointestinal system. I can work with it sometimes, but not all the time. A diagnosis of we-don’t-know-you-must-be-crazy (anyone know the ICD-9 code for that???) is not helpful, exactly, but I can live with it. I can work with it. I can continue to trust my body and keep trying to calm it down however I can. Likewise, with the eczema on my hands and feet, I see a link with gluten and flares. Yes, there are other things too– stress and hot weather and travel all seem to play a role, but not if I stay away from gluten. So I stay away from gluten, and the doctor says I’m crazy for it, but that’s ok.
Not this time though. This time, crazy is not ha ha. It’s not whatevs. It’s scary. And I trusted myself to know that I needed to seek professional medical help. I have a good relationship with Celeste, I trust her and get the sense that she trusts me to report accurately. She worked with me, with my crazy, to make a plan. I can get on board with that too.
Annoying as it may be (because in my dreams last night, I simply could not understand how my math professor was working out the problems and I was never going to pass– a new story every night), I am encouraged by my ability to trust myself, even in my crazy, to be able to distinguish just what type of crazy it was. When the push for help is not only meaningful, but necessary. And I’m grateful that Celeste seems to get that too.