Friday, November 25, 2011

My Insomnia Journey, Part Two

So now you know what was causing my sleep problems….what helped?
If the problem is a stressor outside of your control, unfortunately there isn’t much to be done.  Doctors and health websites will tell you to practice good sleep hygiene, which means having consistent bedtimes and waking times, only allowing yourself a certain amount of time (I want to say they recommend 10 minutes?) to fall asleep, and to not be in bed or even in your bedroom if you aren’t sleeping.  It is also generally advised to keep the room as dark as possible, the room temperature on the cooler side, and to run a fan or some sort of white noise.  We did that – now I can’t even sleep with a digital alarm clock in the room because it’s too bright J and my husband and I are both officially addicted to sleeping with a fan running.  Consuming no caffiene is also advised – I cut it out completely for several months.  It didn’t help me, but it might help you.  Some recommend a sleepy-time tea (containing lavender and chamomile) or warm milk close to bedtime.  This didn’t help me much either.
Medications were a last resort for me and I reached that last resort.  I was desparate.  Unfortunately, diphenhydramine +NSAIDS is a migraine trigger for me, so most OTC meds like Tylenol PM and Advil PM weren't options.  Melatonin helped for a little while, but it eventually lost its effect.  I also tried Hyland’s sleeping pills, which like the Melatonin, worked for a week or so and then ceased to be effective.  After about seven months of this I saw a doctor.  We discussed both the infertility and the insomnia.  She sent me home with Ambien and did a ton of bloodwork.  The Ambien didn’t seem to help much.  I’d sleep, but it still took me quite awhile to relax and I didn’t feel like it was restful sleep.  The bloodwork showed nothing abnormal, of course.  I felt as though we had paid $800 for nothing.  I pressed on.  Ten months later I saw a different practitioner – a physician’s assistant (P.A.) that had come highly recommended.  The first thing she did was a depression assessment and lo and behold, I tested the in the ‘borderline severe depression’ range.  Had I been a few points higher they would have hospitalized me.  She prescribed Trazodone and Prozac. 
(Disclaimer, I am not a doctor or medical practitioner in any way, just a young woman sharing her experiences.)
The Trazodone was a God-send.  I slept twelve hours that night and wasn’t drowsy in the morning.  The next day I took a three-hour nap and still got twelve hours of sleep the next night.  I continued with that pattern for many weeks.  It was absolute bliss, not only to finally get some good rest, but to escape from the world for over half the day and just let my mind reset.  Now I had been on Prozac before (major depressive episode during my college years) and it had worked beautifully then, but I started having anxiety symptoms during the day.  A few follow-up visits later, my PA switched me to Zoloft and that solved the problem.  I wasn’t jittery or panicky anymore and I continued to sleep well.  I also made the necessary change and quit my job.  It was hard to leave my kids, but the administration had very unrealistic expectations of me that weren’t changing.    I switched to being a special ed. para in our local school district.  The hours were less, the pay was significantly less, but I do not regret this decision at all. It was a desperate and necessary move to stabilize my mental health.  It certainly wasn’t stress-free, but having consistent work days, hours, and a consistent daily schedule was very helpful for my psyche. 
I stayed on the Zoloft for about a year total.  I still have a prescription for the Trazodone (it’s been two years now) but  have been using it only intermittently/as needed for that last fourteen months or so and haven't taken any of it for the last four months.
That concludes the story of my struggles with insomnia.  Do you have any sleep issues? I’d love to hear what helped you and how you are doing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Insomnia Journey, Part One

Well, I went to bed about 45 minutes ago and felt rather awake, so I’m up for a bit more.  While it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a half-hour or so of time to kill with the TV or the computer, this bums me out a bit. 
I struggled with severe, chronic insomnia from roughly May 2008 through August 2011.  It vanished after we moved here, so I’m a bit disappointed to be getting another taste of it now.I am pretty certain the fact that I ‘slept in’ until 7:30 this morning (I’m usually up just before six) and having a Coke at dinner (I usually have one after lunch) are contributors to my awake-ness tonight and I won’t have this problem on a consistent basis from now on. 
I figured out a few months ago that it was the enormous stress I was under that kept me from sleeping well all those years.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the knowing we would be moving somewhere for a year for my husband’s vicarage (pastoral internship) for a year, to be followed by moving somewhere for his first Call as a pastor, not knowing where we’d be going until weeks before the move, was an enormous weight on me.  I never knew that burden was there, until it was gone.
Another stressor during all this time has been our infertility.  I have to say, I don’t think I really agonized about where the problem was medically, but more the, “Why us?” questions.  This was made worse by the fact that all my close friends became moms during this time, whether they were trying to or not.  It was, and still is sometimes, incredibly hurtful.  I would lie awake for hours and literally fight God on why we had to be enduring this.  I’ve told people since, “I know what it’s like to wrestle in prayer now.”  If you have been here, I’m sympathize.  It’s the hardest thing I have ever walked through.  It is pain and sorrow that must be dealt with on a 28-day cycle.  In a nutshell, it sucks.
During my husband’s Seminary years, my work was our only source of income.  Being the main breadwinner is a role that I’m convinced many women, including myself, are not meant to carry.  I felt very pressure to work as many hours as possible, particularly when we had big extra expenses like major car repair bills, since I knew I was the only one bringing in the money.  I made it, but I don’t think I can do it again.  Unfortunately, my job as an ABA therapist for children with autism was also highly stressful.  Imagine trying to function in that line of work on 20 hours of sleep a week.  It was not pretty, and to this day I feel a little guilty about not being able to put forth my best effort for ‘my’ kids because I felt so awful. be continued.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Here is my menu plan for the second half of November, or "November B".  We grocery shop twice a month since we live about 20 miles from the nearest major grocery store.

Tues. 11/15: Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts
Wed. 11/16: Pancakes with syrup, jam, or yogurt
Thu. 11/17: Spaghetti
Fri. 11/18: Buffalo Chicken sandwiches
Sat. 11/19: From-scratch Chicken Nuggets
Sun. 11/20: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Mon. 11/21: Venison Steak & Cheese Quesadillas
Tues. 11/22: Turkey Hot Dogs
Wed. 11/23: My parents are arriving for Thanksgiving and picking up Culver's for us :)
Thu. 11/24:  Thanksgiving Dinner!  Turkey, Gravy, Double-baked potatoes, sweet corn and carrots, rolls, cranberry-orange bread, apple pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream, sparkling grape juice, and eggnog.
Fri. 11/25: Leftovers/Out with my parents
Sat. 11/26: Leftovers/Out with my parents
Sun. 11/27: Cheese Pizza
Mon. 11/28: Honey Chicken
Tues. 11/29: Turkey Hot Dogs
Wed. 11/30: Pancakes/Eggs

These are our dinners, by the way....breakfast is usually yogurt, a granola bar, toast, or eggs for us and lunches are pretty much salads, sandwiches, or leftovers.

I can't believe we'll be into December after this cycle!  Time is flying!


The purpose of this blog is to encourage, to learn, to grow, and to share.  Yes, that’s broad J but I think you get the idea.
I am a 27-year-old female.  I have a BA in psychology and a work background that consists mainly of working with special needs children; currently I’m a preschool aide in our local school district.  I have been married to my wonderful husband for nearly five years.  He is a new pastor – just ordained in August.  We are very Lutheran and our faith is an integral part of our lives. 
We’ve lived at six different addresses, in four different states, in our five years of marriage.
I’m a bit of a paradox – I love to do homemaking activites such as sew, bake, clean, organize.  I’m a big fan of homeschooling and stay-at-home-motherhood, yet I work full-time and have no children.   I love to sing, play piano, and listen to music.  I’m currently learning to fake-play the organ (no foot pedals).
Infertility is very much my cross.  We hope to grow our family through adoption and I plan to document our (prospective) adoption journey here as well.