The Genie in the Bottle

Before I started experiencing so much stress in my life, I was an 8 hour minimum kind of girl. Less than 8 and I would wake up wanting to scratch out the eyes of every person in which I came into contact with the next day, including my husband and children.

Now, I am lucky if I manage 4 consistent hours of sleep. 6 feels like I had a day at the spa.

Stress, anxiety, and poor sleep

But the daily stress of our new normal has shot my anxiety through the roof. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. I cannot sit and concentrate on one activity for more than 2 minutes. I feel like I am on a roller coaster of feelings all day long. I am jittery and exhausted all at the same time.

It all feels like too much most days. This lifestyle has left me spent and I feel I have lost the ability to regulate my emotions.

Then last month everything got even worse. My insomnia compounded. I went from a sometimes bad sleeper to a never sleeper. And the journey has been rough.

Unrelenting and debilitating pain

It started when all of sudden my right foot began to ache for what seemed like no reason. Then every day the pain increased a little bit more and a little more until the ache felt like it was coming from inside my bones. Finally, one day it became too much. It felt like I had been staked through my foot with a hot iron. I was in hell. I could not think, or even eat, the pain was so intense. I would liken it to childbirth...which I went through... twice... with complications. But it was worse than that.

The pain was bad. It was so terrible I started getting anxiety attacks. All I could do was cry. And I could not stop crying. For days, my doctors were unable to treat the symptoms and stave off the pain. It felt like all I was able to manage was to just despair through it. The wave of fear pulled me back and forth from an overly medicated sleep to a need to disappear or self destruct. I was unable to cope. I cried and cried and cried. My husband was worried, my children were scared and I was in total panic mode.

Finally finding relief

My husband bore the brunt of my debilitation. He cooked every meal, kept the house, worked full time, and cared for our kids while worrying about me each day. I don’t know how he kept it together. I don’t know how he stayed sane. I barely did.

All of this led to multiple emergency calls to my general practitioner. I am already on 35mg of Duloxetine for my depression and fibromyalgia, and it was barely putting a dent in fighting my new acute pain and despair. Thank God my GP didn't mess around, three days into a steroid pack, a switch from Gabapentin to Lyrica, and a daily dose of Abilify and I was a new woman. I was FINALLY able to get some relief.

Discovering Abilify

But for me, the discovery was the Abilify. It felt like I had discovered a miracle drug. I now have the energy I never knew existed in real life. All my life I wondered how people got so much done in a single day. Now I know. They’re totally drugged! No, but seriously. I finally understand how normal people must experience everyday life!

I can now do 3, 4, 5 things and not be completely wiped physically. I can get through a full workday, come home and cook dinner, do homework with the kids and the bath and bedtime routine, and still have energy left to work on my blog. It feels like a miracle in a pill.

There is just one little problem with the genie in the bottle. For me, it has come at a price, and that price is a full night’s sleep.

An unwanted side effect: insomnia

Some of the more frequent side effects of the drug Abilify are dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy, and a sedated state.1 But I have the less frequent effects of extra energy and restlessness. I am a machine during the day, completing and moving from one activity to the next with no loss of energy.

I can do all the things, AND take care of the 1001 things pulling me from all sides as a mother, wife, daughter, and employee. But I have found, what I gained in daily energy has spilled over into nighttime insomnia.

I have put off raising the alarm

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the meds, and honestly, the side effects are worth every productive minute of the day. But still, it feels hard. Trying to fall asleep feels like a roulette wheel at night. There are 99 possibilities but sleep is not one. So I get out of bed and I prowl around the house like a big cat, searching for something to occupy my night.

I know I will have to call the doctor and tell them what is going on. My husband is pushing for it. But I’ve been putting it off. I’m afraid the doctor will try and add another pill to my daily regimen of meds to try and help me sleep. Or worse, they may want to take me off the Abilify and I just don’t think I’m willing to make that sacrifice. My daily dose just has too many benefits.

But I know I need to sleep

I like being able to have a full day with my family without thinking about how utterly exhausted I am. I like being able to stay up after the kids go to bed and spend some quality time with my husband. I like feeling “normal” during the day and not completely spent by noon. And the other truth is, I just don’t feel like taking a sleeping pill. I already take so many medications as it is.

But like I said, for my husband and kids, I know I need to sleep. Because going until I completely crash is also not healthy or sustainable. But until then, I’m going to be grateful for the energy I have while I have it.

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