Finding the right medications that work can be a lot like trying to hit a bullseye, but everyone’s bullseye situation is different. My husband typically reacts well to new medications and doesn’t have to switch often so I imagine my husband’s bullseye is quite large and a professional dart player is trying to hit it.
I have fucking terrible luck with medications. If they work at all, they tend to give crippling side effects that make me physically miserable and defeat the purpose of being on medication to alleviate depression and anxiety that makes me mentally miserable. My imaginary bullseye is tiny, constantly moving, and in a game booth at the county fair…and I’m trying to hit it blindfolded. The odds are not in my favor.
On top of my mental health issues, I also have insomnia. The past few weeks have been rough as I’ve been getting a couple non-consecutive hours of sleep at night, if I slept at all. I likely have insomnia naturally because my brain is constantly running and refuses to shut itself off when it’s time to settle down for the night. Insomnia can also make mental health issues worse if you’re so physically drained that you can’t function like a normal person and your default state is being cranky as fuck from the lack of proper rest.
I personally had some aversion to using a regular sleep medication because of some weird paranoia that I wouldn’t wake up if I took them, but nothing else was working. I tried everything in the past few weeks: lavender spray, weighted blankets, warm milk, melatonin gummies, masturbation, etc. I finally broke down and called my doctor, who wrote out a prescription for a sleeping medication.
Let me give a little context of how I sleep. A good night of sleep for me is taking an hour or so to fall asleep, sleeping four hours straight, then awake up every hour or so. A horrid night of sleep means it takes more than two hours to fall asleep and waking up anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour—if I’m really unlucky, I’ll have vivid nightmares for the short times I can sleep.
I was still a little apprehensive about taking a sleeping med, but I was desperate and I felt better knowing it was the same medication my husband takes for insomnia. I took the pill and set my phone to play a How It’s Made playlist. I don’t think I made it through the first video before I was asleep. In the morning, I looked at the clock and realized I had slept eight hours without waking up. I tried to think of a time when I was able to sleep eight hours straight and could not recall one. I felt AMAZING. I had all this energy. I wasn’t this exhausted shell of a person. Best of all, no side effects!
…until the next morning.
I had slept six hours straight that night and woke up feeling great. I went to work. I sat down for break to take my vitamins and my anti-depressant. I come back out to my spot at the door to count customers…and that’s when the drowsy side effects that was to be expected from a sleeping med hit me HARD. “Drowsy” is a bit of an understatement because I felt kind of drunk—not full on drunk, but fairly tipsy. I suddenly felt so unstable on my feet that I had to sit down to potentially avoid falling on our store’s concrete floors.
Remember that anti-depressant I took before the side effects of the sleeping med kicked in? It has its own side effect of giving me a shit ton of energy when I first take it. It would have been great if it had canceled out the drowsiness, but I assume what actually happened is my meds fought each other for dominance. It was basically the medication version of the Goku VS. Frieza fight. As I sat in that wheelchair trying not to slump over, I switched between drug-induced alertness to drug-induced lightheadedness. I ended up going home halfway through my day and ended up staying home the next day when I woke up with hard drowsiness.
I tried to call my doctor only to find she was out until my appointment on Monday. Luckily, I have a mother-in-law who is a nurse and asked for her medical opinion. She suggested I take half a pill and see how that works. It didn’t work at all. That was frustrating knowing if I take a full dose I’m walking like Sally the ragdoll from “Nightmare Before Christmas”, but if I take half a dose I sleep as if I hadn’t taken anything. Even more frustrating was the fact that my husband only takes half a dose of the same sleeping pill in the same dosage and he sleeps beautifully on it.
I explain all of this to my doctor and the med student working with her on the day of my appointment, which was actually my six month follow up for a medication I was no longer prescribed because I had to switch after it started giving me tremors. Since I typically react so poorly to medication, they have to discuss several options before prescribing me something. The medication they prescribe me for sleep is actually an antihistamine, but its side effects of causing sleepiness have been beneficial to insomnia patients. “Think of how Benadryl makes some people super sleepy,” my doctor explains.
Now we just wait and see if this medication hits the bullseye or misses the mark.