Present Day, March 27th, 2017

Insomnia is an awful thing.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday my job requires that I wake up at 3 a.m. Saturday…5 a.m. Wednesday…6:30 a.m. Yeah, I know.

Sunday is my sleep-in day, but you can imagine how well that works for a body conditioned to these other alarm times. There are options, such as Tylenol PM, to try and get a good night’s sleep heading into my day off, but there is also the yang of the yin which is attempting to wake up on that day without having to fight through a fog in my head for the first two or three hours. So there are evenings I choose to take nothing.

(CONFESSION: the best weekend remedy I have found is a couple quick hits of the mari-ju-ana. Knocks me right out and I feel great in the morning!)

So what is worse than your everyday insomnia? Well, there is the insomnia when it is 8 going on 9 o’clock and you are still awake knowing the alarm is going off at 3 a.m. Because nothing makes it harder to go to sleep than the awareness that you damn well better get to sleep!

Or there is the insomnia that this is your one night a week, one of your four every month when you actually can get a good, long, full night of sleep…and here you lie wide, fucking awake.

Or there is the insomnia on Saturday afternoon when the week of sleep has been pretty off the rails but now you can get a good nap and reset yourself for the weekend, but you can’t fall asleep and are aware that you will be crashing out at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night when the rest of the family is looking to have a great time.

Or there is the insomnia that reminds you that this is your life and you will never feel rested, never feel in a circadian rhythm and that the god’s of time changes, sun cycles, and moon phases have a personal vendetta against your existence. (Yeah…even I am aware of the fact that one is fairly irrational.)

I am working on accepting my reality. Working on it. One, because of my work schedule, it will likely always take some type of medication schedule and/or prescribed drugs to sleep. Two, healthy sleep numbers will almost always require a combination of napping with my nighttime hours. Three, guilt over my sleep schedule and its impact on family life will do me no good. None. Zip. Nadda. Four, living by strict sleep hygiene rules will always be imperative to my existence. And five, all of the above mean I need to quit being a little bitch about it and just accept that it is what it is.

All of which are a lot easier said than done when you are staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, knowing the clock reads 9:27 p.m. and the alarm 3 a.m.

Present Day, January 24, 2017

Tonight I will pop my first Risperdal. For those of you who don’t know, much like me a few weeks ago, it is an antipsychotic often utilized for treating people with schizophrenia, autism irritability, and in my case…Bipolar.

Following another rough spell a few weeks ago, it was determined that an up in my Depakote and the addition of another medication may be warranted. Once again, for those of you who don’t know, this shit is pretty tough to get right. For example, when I’m put on 1250 mg of Depakote following 8 days of inpatient treatment and chug along in pretty good health for a few months…is it because of the Depakote or because of my quality treatment at Camp Northwestern Memorial Hospital? You never really know until the next crash, and maybe not even then.

So…here we go again. The original plan was a fairly new drug called Latuda. That is the brand name for it. My name for it is “Turn Around and Bend Over and Take It Up the Ass Twice Daily.” Why? Because it came in at just over $400 for a 30 day supply or a cool $1,100 for a 90 day by mail supply. Seriously, thank you Mr. Big Pharma for wanting to do your community service to those of us in the throws of mental health challenges. (sarcasm)

Plan B switched over to Abilify. A much better plan at $40 per month or $120 for a 90 day supply, but still enough to make me want to cry on top of therapy costs, the other 10 pills I take each day, and god knows what else hits my pocket-book over the next 11 months that make up the dream year of our Trump 2017.

Finally, which is actually a pretty appropriate way to phrase it as it involved almost two weeks, plenty of conversations and voice mails, and more people than ever should have had to be involved, we have landed on Risperdal. $5 for 30 days, $12.50 for 90. YES!

Of course, the list of side effects is long and illustrious, including increased hunger which should help me keep up my post-hospital pace of weight gain. Drowsiness and trouble sleeping are on the list (don’t ask…I did, and it makes my brain hurt thinking of the answer), which for a borderline insomniac who has to get up for work at 3 a.m. could be an interesting piece of my life puzzle. And on the more serious list, “painful, prolonged erections” which at my age does not seem like a problem at all (nor do I think my wife will see it as one).

I once again need relief. The depression is one thing, I’m learning how to rest my way through those bouts. But the racing mind…so exhausting. While attempting to nap today, I literally awoke to my own snoring. At the time, I was deeply immersed in a dream, whilst simultaneously writing this blog in another part of my mind, and in yet another cavern fighting back the inner demons that never seem to need a rest (thus last Saturday’s Musical Truth).

Bipolar is rarely treated with a single drug. If a cocktail is discovered, it rarely stays consistent in mix and dosages for the long-term. It is an unscientific crap shoot (not a term the professionals would use, but one that many of them will admit to). This is my next shot. Will see if it works…or just produces an even larger pile of crap.

Thursday, August 25th, 12:05 a.m.

I had left home for work at 3 a.m. on Tuesday the 23rd. Upon returning from work and continuing in a desperate downward spiral, I had left home with a bag to simply get some “space”. Checking into a hotel, I operated at a fairly cognizant level of logic into the next morning of work before coming unhinged prior to completing my responsibilities for the morning. That is when things came unglued, and I went on the run.

Almost 18 hours later, I had exhausted myself with constant bouts of paranoia, changing locations, hiding from people I thought were chasing me, attempting to “tie up loose ends”, and all while believing that my plan and demise was all dependent on making that 1:41 a.m. train westward.

All the while my mind was racing. Processing thoughts at light speed. And when I say light speed…I’m telling you, if you don’t have the type of mental illness that includes a severe condition of racing thoughts…you have no idea how quickly the mind can fire!

They had finally opened the renovating train station and escorted us back to the waiting room where I would find myself huddled in a corner counting the remaining minutes until my departure. It was there, amidst the struggle of an almost uncontrollable brain, that I bared down to give all the focus I could to one final email to my wife –

 

I want you to know some of my deepest regrets that have plagued my mind today –

My biggest one is how overly critical I was of you. My endless barrage of criticism and critique had to lead to many miserable days in our time together. My life long struggle to see the positive vs the negative has robbed me of so much joy and peace. And I know it did the same to you. I am so sorry.

I also regret not telling you how beautiful you always were to me. I let that go away after the wedding, which is shameful. You captivated me till the end.

And I regret not sticking to plans. Conflict resolution plans. Emotional health monitoring plans. Safeguards that were supposed to keep us from these moments. Looking back, it is all so obvious: sleep deprivation, parenting stresses, XXXXXX’x departure, the mediation…I should have been more proactive in managing myself. I failed you. And I am sorry.

I don’t know what I am doing. But every fix seems so temporary. I just don’t want to fight this all my life. The constant neuropathy pain. The endless self-management. The lack of resources to tackle a crisis like this when it arises. Life is an endless struggle and I’m just so tired.

The nightmares are back. The ideation is back. The temper. The insomnia. Every victory is fleeting.

I regret not being stronger. Not being whole. Not having managed my life better so that we could enjoy these years.

I regret not having a lifetime with the most wonderful, beautiful partner I could ever dream of.

 

I hit send. Boarded the train. And as far as I could tell, began to say goodbye to my demons. All the while knowing…they were getting on the train with me.