This week’s “Time to Talk Tuesday” is on Insomnia. This is something I have experienced on and off through my life but mainly struggled in the last 6 months with it and it has been a vicious circle of affecting my mental health and being an effect of my mental health; predominantly around my anxiety levels.
Insomnia believe it or not is actually a mental health illness. It doesn’t mean you can’t sleep at all but covers many aspects of sleep such as:
- find it hard to go to sleep
- wake up several times during the night
- lie awake at night
- wake up early and can’t go back to sleep
- still feel tired after waking up
- find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
- feel tired and irritable during the day
- find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired
I often believe that when one aspect is on the mend in one way or another, be it your mental health or your sleep the other is eased or sorted. So the reason why I believe that is because it seems to be the way it affects me – when I am stressed my anxieties run really high which prevents me from getting to sleep and then staying asleep. I tend to average 4/6 hours sleep every night which then makes my fatigue (a side effect of my stoma) worse and once again increases my anxieties and the way I react to everyday situations.
I have been prescribed Mertazapine to help me with drifting off to sleep and staying asleep. I have mixed feelings about this drug so far, as it either does a wonderful job of getting me off to sleep etc or it takes me forever to sleep and I wake up at nearly lunch time which when I have children to think of makes me feel like a shit mum to be honest with you. This maybe just the way my body is adapting to it and I have friends who have said to stick it out so I will. The nights I have slept through I still don’t feel refreshed but I have found I am less anxious so it’s why I believe that better sleep is linked to better mental health and vice versa.
I have asked a friend who suffers from insomnia in a different way to me to give us a glimpse into what it is like for her and how it affects her mental health :
I’ve suffered with insomnia ever since my first flare up of Ulcerative Colitis in 2014. I would have some good weeks where I would sleep a good 8/9 hours then weeks where I would go 3/4 days with no sleep at all. Being treated with steroids didn’t help as they gave my all this energy that kept my brain going 24/7. Fast forward to 2016 and my first surgery for my stoma.. I remember going home from hospital and not sleeping for nearly two weeks. I was so drained and weak but I just couldn’t switch off, which is when I would say my depression got so severe I had to be medicated. I had suffered with depression and anxiety for a few years but always controlled it with counselling. It’s now 2018 and I have tried 7 different sleeping tablets with no luck in helping treat my insomnia. Some days I sleep 16 hours and some I barely get 2. On the days when Insomnia is in full swing my head goes into overload. I overthink every little thing, it affects every part of my body because it hasn’t had time to rest. I have been battling with my mental health along with insomnia for year now and I don’t ever think I will recover from it. Although suffering with insomnia means I struggle to switch off and sleep, I also suffer with chronic fatigue which sort of contradicts itself. I am tired 24/7, drained, weak like a zombie but I can’t switch off; it’s mad right? I suppose all my medication doesn’t help and taking morphine twice a day makes me groggy and drowsy but I rarely get a good nights sleep. It’s a vicious circle which I can’t seem to get out of. My depression is at its worse which I partly blame on the insomnia, I never have time to just forget the pain I’m in because my brain never switches off. I would love nothing more than to fall asleep for a good 8 hours and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on anything but I dread every single morning knowing that I’m going to be in pain, tired, drained and anxious. Every day is a battle with my own body with insomnia being one of my biggest problems!
Do you suffer from insomnia? If so how does it affect you? If you missed last weeks instalment please click here. Where I briefly talked about how I felt about being misdiagnosed as depressed.