Things That Work And Things That Don’t Work And Things That Might Work Or Might Not

Some roofers have been working on my neighbor’s house since like 6 a.m. today. It woke up my husband. It did not wake up Laura. WEIRD. Like, seriously weird because I’m a really light sleeper and I usually wake up a few times during the night to pee or yank back my share of the comforter or stare at the ceiling contemplating nothingness (I’m trying to stop doing that last one ’cause it’s too great a demand on my psyche at 3:30 in the morning, but too fascinating a concept to ignore entirely). But, really, it’s not that weird that the roofers didn’t wake me up because I took an Ambien last night. Or at least I think I did. Like 90% sure I took an Ambien last night.

My doctor thinks it’s prudent to have a little stockpile of Ambien because when bipolar people sleep improperly, we get even weirder. For me, not enough sleep = hypomania followed by physical exhaustion with lingering racing thoughts so I can’t sleep even though I’m really tired. When I oversleep, I tend to get depressed. I used to oversleep a lot. I almost never do anymore. So, the Ambien is really nice to have around. What would be nicer is if it did its job consistently. Sometimes, Ambien knocks me out and keeps me from waking up at night, which is what I need it to do. Other times, I don’t fall asleep and I’m just woozy on sleeping pills – which is not without its charm – but I tend to get really frustrated when I’m physically sedated but running at full speed mentally. Like, that’s just plain wasteful because I’m too sluggish to do anything useful or interesting but I’m too alert to fall asleep. So I leave all the lights on (because, like any bully might similarly escalate, my racing thoughts interpret a darkened room as an invitation to race faster and louder). It seems like an intuitive solution except it doesn’t really work.

I’ve had trouble falling asleep since I was a kid. My brain doesn’t like to pause without serious persuasion. My doctor asked me like twice in the last month to stop using weed so much (I smoke and I consume edibles, hence “using” which feels like a weird word here, but it’s the only one that makes sense). I said, “no promises,” but that I’d try. I have shitty impulse control as it is, so, when I’m lying awake resenting my slumbering husband or the drowsing cats or the relative silence in the alley outside my bedroom window, it’s kind of asking a lot of me not to avail myself of the one thing that’s basically guaranteed to get me to sleep soundly in the space of 20 minutes. (insert burbly bong noise here…then remove it because I’m not a huge fan of bongs, just their noises).

But we bipolar folk are special and, as such, special things sometimes happen to us when we do things that aren’t special for most people. There’s a good deal of evidence-ish that suggests that marijuana can trigger or worsen mania. In my experience, this is only sometimes true. If I’m already hypomanic, getting stoned might do one of two things: a) mellow me out and make me sleepy or b) exacerbate my racing thoughts by making them louder and weirder. The latter only really happens to me when I use certain strains of weed – specifically sativas which give most people a more wakeful high and which don’t help me sleep at all, so I steer clear. I’ve never had a hypomanic episode that resulted purely from marijuana use, or even largely from marijuana use. As far as I can tell, my hypomanic episodes are affected by sleep deprivation, seasons changing and modifications to my meds more than any other variables I can think of right now. I could be wrong about this. Assuming I don’t die an untimely death, I have like 5ish more decades to…observe…my moods in relation to my weed usage. I could even start right this second. For science…(go ahead and throw that bong noise back up here….and then remove it once again because I don’t own a bong, I really don’t care for them).

Again, because we’re special, most bipolar folks react differently to alcohol than other people generally do. I’ve had like 4 full drinks in the past 5 months. I used to be a really heavy drinker. Then I woke up one day and didn’t feel like drinking anymore. I don’t know what changed. I just don’t feel like it. I might feel like it again in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the reduction in migraines and mood fluctuations. Drinking makes me depressed, but not until the next day and it’s a little embarrassing how long it took me to connect those dots because of the very obvious cause and effect therein, Laura. I’m not as stupid as I stupid sometimes, but sometimes I stupid harder than necessary.

I counted my pills and I guess I did take an Ambien last night. Which accounts for my current grogginess, probably. I’m supposed to have a friend over tonight and he’s a super chill dude so it looks like I have a pretty mellow evening ahead of me. I’m a little bothered by how comforting that prospect is. It’s 61 fucking degrees out today. 61. That’s approaching let’s-see-how-far-naked-Laura-can-run-from-the-cops-before-being-arrested-for-indecency weather. I have been working out more. And I don’t want to waste a temperate, sunny day in March, because we don’t get a lot of those here. I wish I knew how to ride a bike. I mean, I know how to ride a bike, just not better than a 7 year-old can and adults aren’t allowed to ride on the sidewalk. I tend to yell at those who do. Upbraiding strangers is a skill. I’m really good at it.

It just occurred to me that, if I wanna, I can stick post-it notes to my cats – one that says “get stoned” and one that says “don’t” – and then have them race down the stairs. Except I know who’ll win. Daphne bunny hops down the stairs and, while it’s adorable, it’s not as efficient as Artie’s method, which my husband describes as a “controlled fall”. Ok, this post is clearly derailing. I think I’m gonna hang out on the deck with a guitar or something because, you guys, 61 degrees. 61.

-LB

Tagged: alcohol, bipolar disorder, cats, depression, drugs, hypomania, insomnia, marijuana, meds, nudity, racing thoughts, sleep, treatment

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