At the age of 25 when I first became seriously ill with Bipolar I didn’t sleep for three days. This all happened over Christmas Eve into boxing day. It was a brutal experience. My mind just wouldn’t switch off and incoherent thoughts just kept bubbling and turning in my head, constantly, without respite. Eventually an emergency appointment was called in and I was given medication. I remember on the day the GP was suspicious I’d been taking some kind of stimulant and took a bit of convincing that I hadn’t.
A couple of people I know have recently started courses of antidepressants. The guidance for them is to take them first thing in the morning, even though they make you drowsy. Apparently you should take them early in the day as they can disrupt sleeping patterns. The antipsychotic medication that I take I always take at the end of the day and sleep off the worst of the drowsiness. That works for and seems to make sense to me. On the two occasions I’ve headed off on the road without my meds I’ve gone quickly into withdrawal and been unable to sleep for a couple of nights. It’s an exhausting experience. I once read online of a woman who just suddenly stopped the same treatment as I take and she didn’t sleep for a year.
For as long as I’ve been on meds I’ve had a fractured sleeping pattern. I toss and turn through the night so much that my wife and I have seperate rooms. However, since taking the treatment I do it has been a long time since I’ve suffered nasty insomnia. Last night I had a small bout of insomnia and stayed awake until around two a.m. That’s unusual for me but I think, as always, the little stress I was feeling was more work than meds related. I think a fractured sleeping pattern is worth enduring to avoid the more severe side effects of meds. When I first went on this treatment (that works very well for me) I was on quite a high does and spent the first month lying on the couch doing very little. Treatment I believe is often a lot about what works for you and how you’re going to balance it with the rest of life’s commitments. Some nights are inevitably going to be better than others.