The End of the Rope

It seems like the list of things that are wrong with me just keeps getting longer.  As a result, I spend more time and energy compensating and coping than I do moving forward.  Compensating and coping only mean that you get whittled down at a slower pace.  The inevitable just gets kicked down the road a bit, but it’ll catch up to you, or you to it.  That’s why it’s inevitable.  The storm will come, sooner or later.  Every good captain knows to turn the ship into the storm to minimize the damage, to keep from getting broadsided.

Of all of my issues, lately it’s insomnia that’s been kicking my ass the most.  Over the last three weeks, the hours of sleep per night has dropped significantly.  Over the last week, I’ve averaged about two hours of non-consecutive sleep per night.  You pay a hefty price for this existential torture, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Little things become big things.  Any actual big thing becomes a crisis resulting in psychological breakdown.  Or as an old friend of mine put it so eloquently, “Madness takes it’s toll; exact change, please.”

The thing is, life doesn’t stop when insomnia reigns supreme.  If anything, there’s this little cosmic joke that says things start piling on because the smell of weakness is in the air.  A new deadline at work with a steep learning curve.  House repairs.  Money problems.  It never stops.  But sooner or later, in order to get a handle on things, we must stop.  Sleep must happen.

Of all the things I’ve tried over the years, the obvious one I’ve not attempted before is melatonin.  I looked into it on WebMD and a few other sources.  The biggest things I kept coming across were the ideas of side effects include drowsiness and depression.  Well, as it turns out… insomnia causes that too.  Go figure.  The advantages I kept reading about kept piling up, everything from restoration of natural biorhythms (what does that even look like in a transwoman like me?) to lower blood pressure to reduction in anxiety and so on.  Even seems to improve concentration, which I have to tell you is a big deal.  A lack of sleep causes memory lapses, and some of the ones I’ve been experiencing lately have been a little on the scary side.

Long story short (too late, I know), I got some melatonin in pill form and took the first one last night.  I found it difficult to fall asleep, and as is typical for me, I kept waking up.  But much to my welcome surprise, I discovered I had little problem in going right back to sleep.  Usually I have two or three hours in the middle of the night where I’m wide awake, then I fall asleep just before my alarm goes off, which just pushes me into an uphill battle against fatigue all day.  This morning, I’m very clearly fighting the melatonin itself.  Turns out, I should take it about two hours before bed instead of half an hour, so it has more time to work.  Then the body repairs the mental and physical damage while you sleep.  I’m tired this morning, but I’m also mentally calm, more so than I’ve been in a lot of weeks.  I don’t feel my mind screaming at me about all the things that I should be doing or all the things that are haunting my fears.  I have no idea if this is a lasting effect or not, but I fully intend to take advantage of it while I can.

One of the tools in my arsenal that I use is a selection of hypnosis / guided meditation audios that work best through stereo headphones.  I’ve returned to the idea of using them.  Piggybacked with the melatonin, and waiting for it to kick in, I played one of these audios.  One of the neatest things about the human mind is that it’s malleable, which makes it one of the more frightening aspects as well in the wrong hands.  The conscious mind will resist anything positive and succumb to the worst case scenarios.  It’s an overzealous guard dog, telling you can’t do this, that, or the other.  It’s really good at it too, because it doesn’t want to be unemployed.  But the subconscious mind… if you can break through to that, it’ll accept anything as fact on face value.  Once it does, it’s like reality itself gets reprogrammed.  These audios don’t really do well when insomnia kicks in, for obvious reason.  That’s not really a factor I need to worry about if the melatonin keeps doing its job.  As I say, I’m a lot calmer this morning, which could be because I’m still tired, but I don’t think so.  I’ve been tired a lot of mornings and still found the capacity to be angry or anxious.  Today is better.  Could be the melatonin, could be the meditation audio.  I’m thinking it’s a healthy combination of both.  And that’s day one.  I’m going to try this out for the next 30 days and see how it plays over time.

12 thoughts on “The End of the Rope

  1. My oldest son (he’s 19) has used melatonin for years. He has ADHD so has had trouble sleeping literally since day one. He has an alarm set to take it a couple hours before bedtime & it makes a huge difference. You can also try different doses. Hope it works well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve taken back a degree of control using the meditation audio and melatonin. That’s a healthy step, regardless of whether they worked or not. I recommend melatonin. I use it when I can’t sleep. It’s gentle, natural, doesn’t leave you groggy the next morning, and only requires a three-hour commitment to sleeping (with my average-slow metabolism, at least). Anything is habit forming, though, so if you use it try not to make it a habit.

    Balanced dinner that isn’t too carb-heavy (but isn’t skimpy on calories either) three hours before bed time. Exercise in the morning. Limit blue light at night to keep your body’s circadian rhythm synched.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Good advice all around. I’ve worked the light problem out long ago, using filters and such. The rest is common sense… that has to be reinforced. I agree, anything is habit forming. That’s why I’ve never tried it after all this time. Even now, it says it’s safe to use nightly for a year without problems, but I’m going to try for a month, then I’ll probably scale it back to maybe just every other day, then eventually just weekends until I can prove that my own cycle is restored to something akin to normal. I don’t want to have to rely on a crutch.


  3. I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling right now, Emily. I hope the Melatonin helps. Some people with my disability also take it, perhaps because pain keeps them awake. Just wondering, have you tried ASMR videos as a form of meditation? Super relaxing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I’ve been dealing with this all my life, but it seems like everything just keeps compounding now, so I’m trying to reel it back in. The more I read up on melatonin, the more impressed I am with just how many things it covers. I’m glad to hear it helps you. I’ve not tried any kind of meditation video. Never even occurred to me. Audio, yes, but that’s just how I think. I’ll look into this though. You’ve got me curious.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Makes sense. There’s a lot about meditation and the human mind that’s only recently been studied scientifically, let alone used in medical research. But everything seems to support what the monks have known since ancient times. I love it when that sort of thing lines up.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been taking Melatonin for years when I have trouble sleeping. It also gave one of my kitties about two more years of quality of life. In her old age, she became very confused and frightened, frightened even of me. It was horrible to see her like that, walking around in circles and yowling. Melatonin helped calm her until cancer took her from me. Right now for me it’s Tai Chi, yoga, mindfulness and meditation. This week a friend of mine suffered a stroke and I’ve been back to square one with little sleep. I do hope that you’ll find relief from insomnia soon, Emily. I know how difficult it is. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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