I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m an insomniac. However, the Clozapine I take at night helps me fall asleep with 20 minutes, I just don’t stay asleep. I wake up at least twice every night. It would be nice to sleep through the night, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. My mind is always running extremely fast. It goes from one thought, to the next, and so on. I never catch a break; I never get a moment of peace from my own brain. This happens when I’m manic, depressed, and even when I’m not experiencing an episode.
There are many aspects in life that affect my ability to sleep. These aspects include keeping a routine, medications, my anxiety level, and my honesty. Keeping a routine is important, but it’s something that I’m not very good at. I almost never go to bed at the same time every night. I pretty much go to sleep whenever I feel like it, so that isn’t very helpful. Several of my medications, including Lithium and Tegretol XR, can cause insomnia in patients. I’m sure this worsens my ability to sleep. My anxiety level is high quite often. Even when it’s not high, I deal with anxiety on a regular basis, especially when I’m outside of my home. For me, it’s important to remain honesty. I have a hard time living with myself if I’m not honest. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy; it’s important that when we interact with others, you should treat them the way you want to be treated.
There are many reasons why I could struggle with insomnia. I wonder if this is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. When I was a young child, I would fall asleep anywhere. Now, I have to force myself to fall asleep. And to make matters even worse, I tend to have nightmares when I finally do fall asleep. My husband says that he can tell when I’m having a bad dream because I talk very loudly in my sleep and I’m constantly tossing and turning. When I wake up, I don’t always remember my dream/nightmare, but I do remember feeling terrified. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help get rid of these nightmares.
I flew across the country at the end of April in 2004. On April 29th, 2004 I was admitted to a year-long in-patient rehab. I was excited to go until I got there. Once I arrived, my fears kicked in and I told my mom that I changed my mind about going to rehab. She ensured me that I could do it. I trusted her; I always trust my mom because she has never given me a reason not to.
Rehab was very tough. I couldn’t talk to my family for the first 6 weeks. Then I could only talk to them once a week on Sundays for 15 minutes. There was a strict schedule that had to be followed. On Sundays we had to clean our living areas and everything had to pass inspection. I think that may be why I am so obsessive about cleaning my house. We had to make dinner every night for our houses. This required making a menu, grocery list, and assigning specific tasks. I had a therapist and a psychiatrist that I saw weekly. They managed my medication so I never missed a dose.
We were required to go to AA meetings that were put on by the staff members. A couple times a week we were allowed to go to outside meetings that were supervised by staff members. We were also required to have a sponsor and do step work. In the beginning, it was tough. However, as time went on, it became normal. The step work brought up a lot of issues that I was able to work on. The hardest part for me was believing in a Higher Power. I’m Jewish by blood, but I was raised Catholic. I never believed in what I was taught in Sunday school and I never related to anything I heard in church. I don’t like the word God for many reasons. Overall, I just don’t believe in God. Some people may not like to hear that, but I’m just being honest. The great part about belief according to AA is that you just have to believe in a power greater than yourself. I can admit that. I know that I’m not the most powerful thing out there. I’m not sure what it is, but I know it’s not me. I do believe in science and Mother Nature, which then became my Higher Power.
Family was invited to visit every 3 months for workshops, which helped to work through some family problems. My mom came every time. My brother, sister, and aunt each came for one of the workshops as well as my graduation. I was so amazed at how much my family supported me; especially after all of the crap I put them through over the years. Once I completed the year-long program (which felt like forever), I worked at the rehab for 9 months helping others get sober.
I made some friends from the rehab, but most of those relationships faded off. I did date one of the guys that I met there, and we ended up living together for a while. The school teacher from the rehab became a close friend of mine and we spent time together after I left. His wife ended up being my sponsor when I lived on my own. I even became close with their family.
Maintaining routines is extremely helpful to me; it is a great way to help manage bipolar disorder. Routines require ideas, plans, and action; these things keep us active and help us to feel good when we accomplish our daily tasks. I know I should follow my routine more strictly by keeping to a regular sleep schedule and eating on a regular schedule, but those things are very difficult for me to regulate.
The routine that I do keep may not be as structured as it should be, but it works for me. First of all, I go to the same stores that I always go to when I run errands, even if they are further away or more expensive. I do that because I’m comfortable going to stores I know. I like to write in the mornings and evenings. I take the dog for a walk late at night; he has a reflective harness for our safety. I also try to run errands during the day before the stores get busy. Then I can do household chores later in the day. Every night, I write a to-do list for the following day. As I complete my tasks the next day, I cross them off my list. My to-do lists allow me to create a plan for the next day that I can take action on and complete.
I try to keep my routine flexible so that it’s easier when I have major changes. It’s more like a plan or structure instead of a strict routine. I’m not good with change, most of us aren’t. When I keep a very strict routine, I have a hard time when it comes to seeing family and friends. My flexible routine allows me to manage my life while still being able to get together with others, even at the last minute. I know it would be beneficial if I went to bed at the same time every night and ate at the same time every day. These are things that I can work on. Everybody is different, and everyone has different needs.
Right now, I’m visiting my family, so my routines are all messed up. I have lots of things I want to get done, so I made a to-do list as always. Hopefully, that will help me keep some structure in my life while I’m away. I’ve been trying to plan things such as visits with people, but it hasn’t been working very well. Some things have to be left up to chance.