Breaking The Cycle

Disclaimer – I have said in the past that I have limited time to write in the summer. This was written in a small window of opportunity during which my 3 year old repeatedly got up from his nap and interrupted my train of thought. If I tried to proof it thoroughly it would never have been posted, Please forgive the typos, misspellings, and odd sounding sentences that are undoubtedly everywhere.


When I last checked in just after the 4th of July I was still struggling mightily to get a decent night’s sleep. The Friday before this past, the 6th, I again went to bed with the knowledge that the alarm would be sounding at 4:00am which is about the same time I had been getting to sleep. The pressure of needing to sleep was the trigger that set this all off in the first place, and predictably sleep that night was not going to come easy. The stressor had been needing to get some sleep prior to getting up early to go work with my father. This work is something I both enjoy and need for additional income. I had canceled the previous two times I was supposed to get up because of the insomnia. This time I decided to take a different approach. Going into Friday night I had slept reasonable for a couple nights. I decided that no matter what happened overnight I would get up and go fishing. The day we had planned was going to be easier than normal and the weather was to be ideal. I figured if I took away the sleep requirement for going it may help.  When sleep came hard I reset the alarm for 5:00 to give myself  a little time, but held firm on my commitment to get up no matter what happened. Some time after 3:45 I drifted off and I woke again before the alarm around 4:55 and got up.

The day started grey and foggy both in my brain and on the water. The drive to the boat was pretty bad and the first

Not my photo. No credit information available.

couple hours work were equally horrible. My brain was moving slowly but I was functioning. Finally around 9:00 the sunchased the fog away and the warm rays of my skin cleared the cobwebs from my mind. The rest of the day went pretty well. That night I stayed up until 10:00 and when I hit the pillow I could not sleep. I was very very tired and as we all know when you are that kind of tired the little voices in the back of your head get louder and more forceful. By 10:30 I was experiencing high anxiety and in pretty rough shape. Even my anxiety couldn’t overcome the level of fatigue I was experiencing and sometime after 11:00 I slept. It was a toss and turn kind of night, but I did sleep.

As the new week began sleep again became a more regular part of my life. Getting there was still a bit of a struggle taking an hour or two each night, I got a lot of reading done, but sleep was coming. When Friday rolled around I had a follow up visit with the shrink concerning my restart of Wellbutrin and the sleep problems. During the visit we increased the Wellbutrin dose from 150mg to 300mg, and talked about adding a drug to ensure nightly sleep. He indicated that my prolonged  use of the benzodiazepine Klonopin would likely make sleep aid such as Lunesta and Sonata ineffective. I found this an interesting observation and wished he had elaborated as to why.  In the end the conversation boiled down to two old antidepressants with sedative side effects Mirtazapine and Trazodone. I am not looking to take a lot of pills and was encouraged by the improvements to my sleep over the course of the week. The Mirtazapine was a drug I would have to take on a daily basis, but the Trazodone was something I could take an a more as needed schedule. I really wanted to see if my sleep kept improving so we decided I would take and prescription for Trazodone and use it if I needed it.

Friday night I was again facing and early alarm, and all day I was wrapped pretty tight about it. The week before I had proven that I could go fishing with no sleep so I again decided that I would gt up no matter quality of quantity of sleep I got. At bed time I could feel the anxiety in my body when we turned the light out at 10:00. By 11:00 I was no closer to sleep that when the light went out so I got up took some of the left over Buspar for the anxiety and read for almost an hour. Sleep finally came around 1:00, and I got up at 4:00 when the alarm sounded.

Yesterday we fished our biggest day of the season. I was on the water for over 11 hours in 90+ degree heat. My stomach gave me some trouble over the course of the day so I didn’t eat, but I drank about 50oz of water. I didn’t feel great, but I again functioned effectively on minimal sleep. I am hoping that by breaking the cycle of not going when I don’t sleep my brain will begin to realize that there is nothing to get all worked up over. By taking away the negative consequence (not going fishing) I hope that sleep will become less a big deal and therefore come easier on these nights. We will see what happens next week I guess. I would really like to keep those pills in the bottle.


5 thoughts on “Breaking The Cycle

  1. Great job staying in control of your situation. BTW, your writing was superb and I didn’t, upon reading, see any typos. Sometimes just spitting it out as if we are talking is good enough.

    I’ve taken Trazadone and Lunesta but sleep really isn’t my issue. Those meds had a cummulative effect that made me too tired during the day. But, doctors like to prescribe the sleeping aids if I even whisper “night wakings.” Right now, I take .05 mg klonopin for sleep due to Wellbutrin SR (100 mgs ) because that drug really keeps me awake and energized.

    Every one is different — I know we all react uniquely to the same meds so enough about me! I just want you to know I play the medication balancing act, too. I wish I didn’t need it but the medications seem to be a necessary evil. Do you think your insomnia is caused from anxiety or one of the medications? It seems like sleeplessness is a new complaint. Well, anyway, I hope you get on top of your sleep issues very soon.

    Enjoy the fishing — I’m sure it’s hard work but at least you are out on the seas where you love to be! –Daylily

    • Insomnia isn’t really new it just hasn’t been a significant problem in long time. I took the Klonopin 0.5mg 2X a day for ten years. That stuff pretty much took care of any sleep problems I had. On the rare occasion that I could not sleep I would just take an additional Klonopin and I was out. Insomnia is a common side effect of benzo withdrawal and I experienced that back in the winter when I came off it. What I dealt with over the week of the 4th was the worst insomnia I have ever had. I had been awake until 2:00 or 2:30 in the past, but never until 4:00. I was literally listening to the birds sing as daylight was coming on having not yet been to sleep.

      I hear what you say about the meds. I have written at length here about how much I dislike them, but at the same time how much I seem to need them. I think I lasted about two months med free, and it was a struggle almost from the first day. At this point it is my hope to be able to reign this all back in without using SSRIs. They work the best for me, but the side effects are intolerable.

  2. Well done, C! Arriving at our own conclusions re: what we think about, our thoughts about something, is invaluable.

    I have a friend who uses Trazadone as needed for sleep–exactly as your doc prescribed it. So far as I know, it works well for her. Keep us all posted-when you get the time, of course. You’re doing really well in spite of your insomnia. I’m so glad that you got a chance to be on the ocean with your dad. Also, the chance for extra income. That all goes a long way to easing anxieties. xo, J

    • Thanks LJ. Things feel a little different this time in the sense that I am more aware of what is happening. I hope that means I can get it back under control easier with minimal chemical help. I am painfully aware that I could make it all stop with the use of an SSRI, but the side effect… ugh

      • Yes…the side effect. I completely understand. Do you ever have the racing thoughts? Something like really loud static noise in your head? “Voices” screaming at you until you’re vibrating and it takes so much energy to push back from within to maintain a sense of normalcy on the outside because the pressure from without is so strong? I ask because that’s what my brain was like all the time before Topamax/Elavil combo. Topamax is used as a mood stabilizer off-label. There are side-effects, but it has worked like a charm. No more OCD, no more “shouting voices” in the head thing, etc.

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