Counting sheep

SleepSleep is something that is crucial for everyone and when you’re mentally ill it’s even more important. Lack of sleep can trigger an episode, keep it going or signal that an episode is imminent. Getting enough, good-quality sleep is key for anyone to maintain their health, but when you can go from fine to freaking out in a matter of hours, someone with bipolar has to keep on their toes.

In 2008-2009 I had a problem with insomnia. My brain would refuse sleep to the point where when I finally went to bed, I more passed out rather than fell asleep. I would go to bed around 4am and wake up before 10.

I would manage to sleep maybe and four or five hours and then repeat the same cycle again. I couldn’t let myself sleep, even when I was exhausted. As soon as my eyes snapped open, I had to get up. There was no lying in bed and drifting off again. I eventually was put on a medication to help me get to sleep but found that it really just got me high and made me really disoriented.

But even though it put me to sleep, I would only take it around 2am and fight the need to sleep until 4am. But it did knock me out for 8 hours or more. Sometimes a lot more than 8 hours. Eventually, my insomnia subsided and I was able to sleep on my own again.

Which was good, because the TV shows available after about 1am are usually terrible. There’s tons of infomercials and reruns and although some channels show things uncut, good quality programming was hard to find. And naturally, that late at night, I rarely went out, because what was there to do in Williamsburg that late?

So I stayed up on Facebook and watched TV. Although, to be fair, most days I didn’t leave the house and stayed on Facebook and watched TV. I was playing a lot of Sims 2 at the time. And when I say a lot, I mean that I had Sims that were 6th generation and lived in mansions so large that my computer would lag while trying to load it all.

But sleep is nothing to be messing around with. Losing sleep is incredibly triggering for me. Even when I was in college, I never pulled overnighters. I knew I would be completely useless if I didn’t get enough sleep and anything I did in a Dr Pepper-fueled haze would be terrible and have to be redone anyway.

The people I hung out with in middle school used to poke fun at how easily I’d get fatigued if I was awake for too long, but that’s just how my body functions. So now I know well enough to plan how I get my sleep and make sure that I have enough or that I can nap later if I need to. Because seriously, no one wants to deal with me when I’m irritable and I don’t like being sleep-deprived and annoyed with everything.

This is one of the many reasons why I think I’ll be  terrible parent. I can’t imagine being able to function when I’m that sleep deprived. Getting up every two hours to feed a baby? I’d strangle that baby. I seriously don’t do well without sleep. Maybe I could adopt an older child if I ever feel the need to raise children. Maybe a 17-year-old…