Monday, January 24, 2011

If Insomnia Had a Face, I'd Punch It

UPDATE:  I've gotten a lot of concerned messages and stuff today.  I've been sleeping all day, I just ate, and now I'm going back to sleep.  Thanks for your thoughts and concern.

This one isn't funny, but some may find it interesting.

I haven't slept in 4 days.  This definitely takes its toll on a person, but I'm told that my thoughts are surprisingly coherent when I can write them down and then edit them for a few hours.  What you're currently reading was most likely worked on all day while I waited for myself to pass out.

I can usually sleep just fine, but there seems to be a week and a half out of every month where I have trouble.  During that week, I have to take my sleep drugs at about 6:00 (so that I can fall asleep by 10:30) because my thoughts are so out of control and fast that it takes forever for the drugs to slow them down.  It's like a bullet train that gets stopped by a rubber band.  During the week and a half, I have frequent feelings of deja vu, and I have trouble walking straight and remembering words.  I'm fine, otherwise.

When this problem first began about 3 years ago, the doctors didn't know what to do.  It didn't help that I was living in a 3rd world country at the time, so I could only talk on the phone with doctors from the states.  They tried treating me for various types of depression and bipolar and paranoia and all that.  They thought that those were the cause of the problem and that insomnia was one of the effects.  My new doctor figured that instead of those being the main problem, they were the symptoms of the problem (with the problem being chronic insomnia).  Turns out he was right.  Once I started sleeping correctly, all the other problems completely went away.  So whenever I take a disorder test after not sleeping, I always get a kick out of the results because it reminds me of the stupid doctors that tried treating the wrong things.



Lots of people wonder what it's like to be awake this long.  Most people can't even say that they've been awake for 2 days.  I can function on a slightly more than basic level on day 2.  However, if you catch me on days 3 or 4 (and very few people do because I keep myself locked in my room), you'll see that even taking care of myself on a basic level is a feat of strength and sheer willpower.

So I started day 4 of no sleep 2 hours ago.  This is what things are like for me:

I'm too tired to make myself fall asleep.  That doesn't make sense to a lot of people, but if you've been awake for longer than is natural, you'll know what I mean.  Your body is under a lot of stress and it's the kind you can't dispel with a fun breathing exercise or pleasantly painful stretching.  I guess your brain has a natural throttle or something in it that keeps all of your thoughts organized and keeps you from overloading yourself (that's how my doctor explains it to me, but I'm not 100% sure if that's just a model used for me to understand it better, or if that's really how it is).  Going without sleep shuts down that throttle so I basically think every thought at the exact same time.  This is remedied by typing out my thoughts (hooray for blogs!), but that's the second best option that I've found.  The best option that I've found is having a girlfriend come over and I cuddle up to them in bed.  It calms down my stressed body and I can focus my thoughts on them.  They get to see a side of me that no one ever gets to see.  I currently have no one to invite over so that one is out of the question.  However, I now have Sarah's number again and keeping myself from calling her out of desperation is starting to sound more and more like a good idea.

I'm sick to my stomach, but I won't throw up.  My body is fully aware that something isn't right, but it knows that it's not something in my stomach.  Me feeling sick to my stomach is most likely due to my brain misfiring signals left and right and the "sick to the stomach" part of the brain is getting hit often enough to make me feel constantly puke-y.  It's like the feeling you get when you have a lot of stomach acid that feels like it's about to boil up, but it never does.  There isn't any more stomach acid than normal.  My brain just can't quite get it right.

Light and sound are painful.  The sound of my quiet space heater next to my bed makes my already significant headache unbearable and the light on the computer screen makes me want to cry.  I'm writing this with the highest decibel rating earplugs I could find on the internet (so I can only hear myself breathe which is ok).  The brightness on the computer is turned all the way down and I'm wearing sunglasses.  In essence, I look ridiculous.

My sense of touch is very very dull.  I can barely feel the little bumps on the F and J keys on my computer so I'm making typing mistakes in nearly every word I type (this is partly why editing this will take me all day).  

My sense of smell is actually heightened, but only to good smells (which is kind of cool).  I can smell my vanilla scented candle from here.  It's on the other side of the room and the steel top is securely covering it.  I have a bowl in here from eating ice cream yesterday that I never took to the kitchen and I can smell the small amount of chocolate syrup that I couldn't get with my spoon.  That's actually pretty sweet, but not enough to make this worth it.

I'm constantly cold.  It doesn't help that I live in an apartment with no insulation and it's 17 degrees outside (plus the store downstairs is closed for the winter, which means its heater isn't on, so none of that heat rises into my apartment).  I just found out that I forgot to turn on my floorboard heater last night after I finished playing my piano, so I guess that's the real source of my problem.  I have my blanket over my shoulders and I have my space heater pointed directly at me and it's two feet away.  I feel my toes start to burn, so I turn it away for a few minutes, only to turn it back.

I have a huge headache (which is partly remedied with the earplugs and sunglasses) and my thoughts are out of control.  I'm basically thinking every thought ever at the exact same time, which keeps me from focusing on one to try and calm stuff down.  I'm constantly worried, but I have nothing to worry about (and when I try to figure out what's worrying me, I forget what I was thinking about).  This is why having a girlfriend to latch onto helps so much. It's a pleasant feeling (magnified by my misfiring brain which leads to me saying some silly things), it's relaxing, and I can focus all of my thoughts on her.  They have fair warning that everything I do and say while under these circumstances can't be taken seriously.  They seem to disregard that warning a few days later and ask me what I really meant when I confessed my undying love to them or accidently called them Sara (which wasn't a problem with Sarah because it's the same name but with an H).  If you get a call from me sometime today and I beg you to come over, please do it and then don't believe anything I say.  Seriously.

Most people ask if I'm on medication.  Yes.  A lot.  I've maxed out on what I'm supposed to take and if I take any more, I risk overdose.  It's tempting, though.  I can understand when people die because they couldn't sleep and took too much medication.  Death might be less painful.  Don't worry, though.  I won't be taking any more.

My mood is all over the place.  I took that mental illness test again (the one that I posted a few days ago) and everything scored as High.  I'll be crying one minute and then raging the next.  I've never hurt anyone (including myself), and I most likely won't.  I keep myself locked in my room just in case.  I'm ok letting girlfriends in because I'll never do anything to physically hurt them.  It's just never been a temptation even when I'm uncontrollably angry.  They're the last thing I'd hurt, and there are an infinite number of things that come before the last thing.

I'm supposed to go to the hospital on day 5.  I can go in before that if I want, but they'll just keep me under observation (very expensive observation).  The hospital is under strict instruction from my doctor to not give me any treatment until day 5.  I guess they have some kind of opiate-based drug that'll put you to sleep within seconds, and then they can closely monitor you as you sleep and give you shots of adrenaline if your heart rate gets too low.  I've had a problem with a certain opiate-based drug in the past which is why I can't go in until day 5 (which I guess is when things become extremely dangerous).  It'll most likely resurface that problem and then I'll have to deal with that all over again.  But it's never gotten to that point.  If the past is any indicator, I should fall asleep in the next 4 or 5 hours.

So what now?  I wait.  I just sit here and wait for my brain to shut off and then I'll slip into the deepest and surprisingly pleasant sleep you can possibly imagine and I'll stay like that for like a day, waking up only when my body senses the need to pee or drink.  When I miss a week of classes and then I tell my professors it was because I couldn't sleep, they rarely understand what that really means, so then I have to go in during their office hours and explain everything and show them the notes from my doctor and all that.  At this point, I think Southern Virginia University should just automatically email them and tell them what to expect with me in their class.

Anyway, that's what's going on right now.  I'll update if I have any other thoughts I feel like sharing.

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