“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.”
I remember seeing that commercial for Sominex in the sixties. Oh, were there only something safe and non-addictive that worked to help me sleep, sleep, sleep!
Tranquilizers are the worst. You take them every day for two weeks and they stop being as effective as they were initially. Up the dose, two more weeks go by, up the dose again and so on. And they rewire your brain big-time–not in a good way. Getting off them when I was twenty was hell. But it can be done. You just have to accept the discomfort of withdrawal. (It can be dangerous, so only do this under a doctor’s supervision. I, unfortunately, did not. It could have been so much easier.)
Imipramine worked for about twenty years, and then it didn’t. Ditto Zyprexa (for seven years).
When I was 49, I averaged about an hour of sleep a night. Man, did I start hallucinating!!! Or seeing ghosts…or worse. (I wrote about this in Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal.)
Anyhoo, eventually I stopped taking all meds prescribed for my PTSD because they weren’t working anymore.
Sleep has since been a challenge, although it’s getting better.
I usually put together six hours within a twelve hour period. If I’m going through a stressful period, I sleep for half an hour, then wake abruptly–hypervigilant. I’m up for an hour or two before I fall back. Sometimes I wake early morning and am up for a couple hours, then back to sleep for two. I’m lucky I can do this since I’m not working nine-to-five anymore. Sometimes I get six solid. It’s getting better, but s-l-o-w-l-y.
I’ve been tired since I was a teenager. I couldn’t sleep until dawn back then. I thought that meant I was a night owl. Now I know it had more to do with my childhood. I was programmed. My body associates nighttime with bad things. There are many nights I still don’t feel safe enough to sleep until the sun comes up.
So it’s tough trying to relax to go to sleep.
There is one surefire way for me to drop off and that is if I blank my mind, which is hard to do. But if I can do it, if I can keep all thoughts at bay for about ten or fifteen seconds, I will fall asleep.
I get so tired of being tired.
One good thing about being tired, though, is my mind slips into the alpha or theta brain states faster and then it’s easier to have shamanic-type experiences.
Last week, I read John Perkins’ book about shapeshifting. One of the shamans he spoke with advised him to listen to his heart. He said the heart is connected to the Universe and will help you if you ask questions and listen. So I asked my heart to show me what’s going on. Why am I so tired? What can I do to get my energy back? Then I put my hand over my heart and blanked my mind.
I got an involuntary screenshot of someone on a wild horse in a rodeo. The horse keeps trying to buck them, but they’re holding on. I figure the message meant I’ve been riding the wild waves of primitive instinct, up and down, up and down, holding on—and that comes at a cost.
The extreme states of PTSD are exhausting. The anger, fear and sadness—not to mention the flooding of cortisol and other stress hormones related to the fight-or-flight states.
Peter Levine says the process of releasing buried energy is slow. It happens in bits and pieces. The body will heal naturally, at its own rate, as long as we don’t block it with drugs and alcohol.
Lima Bean reminds me I’m so much better than I was three years ago. All the physical pain (except IBS-related) went away. The unbearable feelings of grief dissipated completely. And…
Who is Lima Bean?
Forgive me. Allow me to introduce Lima Bean. (See picture below.)
I adopted her five years ago. She was a wee young thing then. Pretty soon, she’ll be taller than me. She’s a cool hipster and night owl. She’s mostly dug jazz since I’ve known her, but she recently discovered B.B. King’s “Live at the Regal” album and can’t get enough of it. She keeps asking me to take her to the South Side (of Chicago) to hear some real blues. She says since I’m usually up anyway, what’s the prob? I tell her if I were still single, yes, but it’s more complicated now. I gave her a Christmas ornament to groove with in the meantime. The Christmas ornament hasn’t given me his name yet, but his favorite song is “Big Noise from Winnetka” (original instrumental version). When I play it, he vibrates round the roots of Lima Bean and she nods along to the rhythm in a cool modified way. At least when I can’t sleep, Lima Bean and Christmas Ornament are wide awake with me.