Monday, September 15, 2008

Insomnia (New info in bold....)

Yes, I have it. I have decided to stop living with it though. I just can't do it anymore. I need to sleep and I need to have healthy sleep habits. I don't right now. So sit tight, you are going to learn far too much about me. Note: This will be a long post. And I thank you in advance for reading my thoughts.

I have struggled with insomnia for many, many, many years. I really don't remember exactly when my sleep issues started. Probably sometime in early infancy. But from what I can remember, I have always been a person that literally CANNOT fall asleep. I remember being around 8-9 and seeing a scary movie at a slumber party. I was literally scared out of my mind and refused to fall asleep. I slept on the floor of parents bedroom for weeks and weeks. I had to see a therapist because my sleep issues were out of control. I remember going to the therapist and talking about what I was afraid of when I was falling asleep. I remember telling her that I was afraid of fire and people breaking into the house and dying in my sleep. I remember saying that I was up all night thinking about school and people and everything. I don't really remember ever being "cured". I just remember not going anymore and sleeping in my own room again.

My sleep issues never went away. I remember in high school, lying awake until 3 or 4 in the morning because I was just thinking. My brain started to actually hurt from all the thinking. So I started to watch late night television to try to concentrate on something other than my own thoughts.

Fast forward to college, when I got my first symptoms of interstitial cystitis. I was up in the bathroom probably every 20 minutes or so. And it wasn't easy to get sleep when the bathroom was a trek down the hallway. You know that pain you feel when your bladder is so full that you are about to burst? I feel that every minute of every day. My freshman year was really hard to deal with. I related my bladder issues to the fact that it was a nervous habit because of my insomnia.

A year or so later, I remember taking benadryl every night to fall asleep. I was so dependent on it. I couldn't sleep without it.

When I met Brandon, I was finally diagnosed with IC. And we made every effort to try to treat it. There is no cure for IC so we were kind of lost. Benadryl seemed to help. However at this point I was taking double the recommended dose because I had built up a tolerance to it (I am not proud of this). Because of the excess benadryl, I was also having to take Tylenol everyday because I woke up with a headache.

Over time (I have no idea exactly how) I gradually stopped taking it. I think because we were trying to get pregnant and I didn't want any baby to be getting that kind of medication. I was still up a lot and it still took hours to fall asleep. But it was different because I was thinking of the proverbial baby.

When I got pregnant with Nathan, my IC went into a remission period. It was great. I was still getting up several times a night but nothing like every 20 minutes. It was really nice. Every once and awhile I would have horrible nights but overall I was doing better.

Fast forward to Nathan arriving (yay!) and add a wakeful newborn to my IC and insomnia. It wasn't a pretty picture. It was taking me hours to fall asleep in the first place. I was having to sneak out of bed every hour or so to go to the bathroom. After every nighttime feeding, I was awake again for hours at a time trying to fall back asleep. It was a nightmare. I began to become resentful of Brandon. He was able to fall asleep in 5 minutes and slept straight through the night. This was a source of fighting in our marriage. I felt so alone at night. Alone with my thoughts.

When Nathan was around 9 months old or so, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. I researched and found out that Ambien was safe to take while breastfeeding. So I made an appointment and got on Ambien. It was so much better. All of a sudden, I was sleeping soundly but still waking up to tend to Nathan. I was able to fall asleep quickly after every nightwaking and I was becoming less angry with Brandon. It was like a miracle or something.

After months and months on Ambien, I found out that there was no way that I could sleep without it. If I didn't have it, there was no sleep for me that night. When my bottle would run empty and I didn't make it to the drugstore I was frantic. I resorted to an old standby, Benadryl. I knew that it was also safe to take during pregnancy but it was really not as good as Ambien. I would still lie awake for hours and wake up with a headache.

So moving forward to a couple nights ago, I went to refill my script for Ambien and discovered that I was out of refills. I took this as a sign. I needed to stop. I needed to stop being so dependent on something to fall asleep. So I gave it a try. At 3 am, I decided that I needed to sleep so I took a Benadryl. Two hours later, I was alseep. Between waking up to pee, Nathan wanting to nurse, and an early morning waking, I got three hours of sleep.

The next night (last night) was more of the same. I tried to go without the Ambien and ended up taking a Benadryl. Awake still at 3 am, I realized that I really have a problem. My mind just kept going. I would thinking about Nathan and about what I would do if something ever happened to him. I would think about circumcision and how wrong it is and how stupid I was. Then I start berating myself and yelling at myself. It just kept going. My mind just didn't stop.

Around 4am, I made a pact with myself. This ends now. I can't mentally or physically handle this anymore. Today is a new day and I am going to try to end the cycle of insomnia. I am going to be looking for more natural ways to help myself. Any thoughts would be most helpful. I am done putting chemicals in my body that dictate when I sleep. I had to type this all out because I needed to be held accountable for this.

Thanks for reading. I am not proud of where I am right now. I know that it sounds bad. But the good thing is that I am working on change.

After I wrote this, I posted about my stuggles on Mothering. I got several responses of support and ideas for my problem. I am going to try the following:

1. Turning off the nightlight and getting some darker curtains. I have kept the nightlight on since Nathan was born so that I could see him and help him latch on at night. Well, I don't really think this is needed anymore. He normally does just fine on his own.

2. Start taking a Magnesium supplement. Several have said that it really helps them.

3. Eating 2 tablespoons of honey per night. According to the Hibernation diet.

I figure, it can't hurt to try! :)

Thanks also, to Mandy for suggesting Melatonin. I looked into that, but like you said, it isn't safe for nursing. Thanks so much though for taking the time to read and post. Means a lot!


Mandy said...

Mandie -

I am so sorry you're having a rough time.

I know you probably have. .but have you tried Melatonin? I used it regularly when trying to adapt to jet lag when I was traveling frequently. Just an idea. . .

Best of luck. . .

Mandy said...

Please ignore my message. . I forgot to check if it was safe while breastfeeding. Sounds like it isn't. . .

Brooke Kiel said...

Oh my gosh you poor thing, I can't even imagine. I had no idea you were dealing with this! I don't have any suggestions, just wanted to offer support.


BTW, I love your blog! :)

April&Jason said...

I"m sorry sweetie! I've had the same issue in the past especially after Tyler and Erin death. I wish I could give you some natural advice but the only thing that helped me was ambiem! While pregnant I didn't take it but after Kaylee I had to have it again once she was sleeping a little more! WHEW I got use to her NON sleeping, LOL and was up all night long!

Hope the other womens suggestions help though, I know how hard it is to not sleep! HUGS!