I am facing a major dilemma in my mental health care. I am currently taking a prescribed medication that makes me extremely drowsy much of the day. I sleep 10-12 hours at night. I’m getting anxious about projects I’ve committed to do. I feel I’m letting people down, myself at the top of the list.
Now I could talk to my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner about weaning myself off this medicine but my dilemma is it is the one and only thing that has worked out of many dozens of psychotropics for curbing my mania. Manic episodes are great for energy, but they can also shorten life span.
To be sedated, or
To die young.
What would you choose?
It’s 3 am. My favorite time of day, though I would like it even better if I were getting up early refreshed from sleep. As it is, I have been up all night. I’m not tired, though my joints are achy. Susan is in bed, hopefully sleeping soundly. Briley is lying on the floor, asleep. I’m listening to a podcast my step-daughter Katie recommended — The Bible Project. It’s an episode on “God Tests His Chosen Ones.” , looking at Exodus. Right now they are talking about the Parting of the Red Sea.
I have long felt tested by God. My current test is my sleep schedule. I fear that I am not giving God my best and I’m trying to figure out how to do so given my limitations. My biggest limitation now is the amount of energy I have access to. The question I am prayerfully asking myself is how I can become more awake more of the time.
But is this the right question to ask?
Susan was right that I should write about my struggle, that in the revealing of my weaknesses God’s strength is glorified. I got a great number of blessings and challenges. I now think the essential test/question is how well I can call on God as I ride the waves. It’s not about productivity. I am not a human doing. I am a human being. More than this, I am a human being beloved by God who tests me not so I fail but to give me opportunities to succeed and share in this success with others.
But what will success look like? Is success even the best understanding of what lies ahead? It’s more like faithfulness. Passing the test means staying faithful and sharing faith with others. Faithfulness means loving God and serving God’s creation with my whole heart, mind, and being. As a spiritual writer, I am to produce content that reveals the full range of human emotions — mad, sad, glad, and afraid. As a mental health podcaster, I am to explore with my Revealing Voices team the nature of minds that are dis-eased and dis-ordered. In all these efforts, I do my best and leave the rest up to God>For now, I need to find a rhythm of work and rest. As recommended by various friends and family, I will discuss with my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner my sleep pattern (or lack thereof). I will ask about titrating the primary sedating drug. I will ask about introducing another drug, possibly even a non-psychotropic to produce wakefulness. I will report and ask and follow her prescriptions. I trust in God’s good time, things will get better.
It’s now almost 4 am. I will post this on Facebook and hopefully people who are struggling to accept their weaknesses will find strength in the abundant love of God.
Thanks be to God, I slept last night. 16 hours. It was hard to come out of hibernation, but after a couple cups of coffee, I am alert and awake. I feel great. Better than I have in weeks. Months maybe.
So what does this teach me? I talk a lot about sleep in therapy and I have tried every trick in the book over the past four decades to get an optimal eight hours each night. Nothing has worked. Once my therapist took out a blank sheet of paper and drew a chart of hours for work, rest, and sleep. He said,
“You see this? This is what a normal person’s schedule looks like. You?”
He took the paper and tore it in half.
“You’re not normal!”
No, I’m not normal and while I can still pursue good mental and physical health like normal people, I will do so with a generous dose of grace towards myself, grace I have been blessed to receive through friends and family like you.
Beginning with this lovely wife. Susan works so hard to love and serve so many. Today she came home after a long and stressful day that began at 6 am and didn’t end until 6 pm. Briley and I greeted her at the SUV eager to give her a hug and a lick but also get some of her much desired attention, which she freely and generously gave.
After changing into her evening clothes, we settled into our recliners. Briley assumed her post on the couch next to us. After telling me about her day, she said all she wanted to do was put her head on the pillow
“Then why don’t you go lay down?”<
“I need to hear about your day.”
“My day? I slept. Now go lay down.”
Susan and I have a Blessed Union. We balance each other out. She encourages me to be active when I feel depressed. I encourage her to rest when she feels weary. We are truly blessed!
April 9, 12:37 a.m.
Susan is now sleeping. She sleeps third shift, like a normal person. Me? Well, like Susan said earlier my sleep pattern has changed daily since I’ve known her. Actually, dating back at least to my teen years. Should I be concerned? Perhaps. Should I take one of the sleeping pills prescribed by my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? Maybe. But there is no guarantee they will put me to sleep. And they may well rob me of the feeling of wellness I’m sensing right now. And they could induce another god-awful state of half-consciousness where I’m like a walking zombie.
I feel good, yet I need rest and at least a period of sleep. I would prefer it to be soon so I can wake up at a reasonable hour and spend a good amount of time with Susan on her day off. I think I will take Melatonin. Melatonin is not so much a drug as a natural substance that is known to help re-establish your circadian rhythms when they have gotten off kilter. I will take 10 mg and then lay down and listen to soothing music on my headset.