Painsomnia, Psych Meds and Mental Health Part 2
I would like to continue where I left off to some degree in Part 1 of this article.
Again, I want to reiterate that I share these personal, oftentimes hard-to-talk-about things, with you because I know how difficult it was for me to be feeling so much and thinking I was the only one. Feeling like no one could possibly relate or understand all of the hardships that can go alongside life with a chronic illness like inflammatory bowel disease has the power to destroy a person. It almost did for me which is why I am so thankful to have an outlet where I am hopefully able to help someone by sharing my personal struggles, challenges, and experiences.
So back to the topic at hand…
I began talking about how I acknowledge I need to begin therapy again and some of the things running through my mind related to that. I am honestly more afraid and unsure of what to do regarding medication than I am about beginning to talk to a mental health professional.
I get about three broken hours of sleep per night and feel like a giant anxiety ball. Even when I am relaxing, I am not feeling a sense of calm. My mind races constantly about so many things. I deal with severe pain on a daily basis which makes it nearly impossible for my body to rest unless I have some sort of pain medication. It has just been making me miserable! I can’t remember ever being a good sleeper since I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are times that are a lot worse than others and right now, I am at the peak of a difficult time in this department.
For anyone who has ever had sleeping issues or even one sleepless night which is mostly everyone, you know how much lack of adequate sleep can affect a person. I have so much trouble concentrating most days. It takes me forever to complete tasks because I am always so unfocused. My body is constantly exhausted but my brain won’t allow me to rest. I eat more to keep my energy up when I am wiped out which ends up not being good for my stomach. I try to maintain as much of a routine as I can which includes attempting to set goals for myself at night about things I would like to achieve the following day. The goals I write down are very realistic and it pains me when I cannot finish my to-do list (or even start it) because my body and brain are unable to function due to lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep for one night is a problem but while most people are able to catch up on a night or two of sleep they might have missed for whatever reason, those of us who have a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, have other things to contend with that usually make it so we cannot just sleep a lot more the following day – or weekend.
I am struggling with what to do in terms of trying psychiatric medications again. Without going into extensive detail, I have not had good experiences with antidepressants. I have felt depressed before and don’t feel that way now but I feel anxious all of the time and am exhausted from my inability to get a restful night sleep. I do know certain types of antidepressants can be helpful in managing these symptoms which may in turn, help my emotional state, and possibly allow me to sleep. That is why I am toying around with the idea.
I am also a stubborn patient when it comes to medications. I feel like I have been through so much and have done so much trial and error (and had awful consequences) that I am incredibly afraid to put something in my body that could be negative in some way. I guess in my mind, if I just stay like this, I know the way I am feeling is definitely me and I am not being influenced by something artificial. If I have pain or feel a certain way, it is me and me alone, as opposed to it being a possible side effect of a medication I am taking. This creates more uncertainty about my body and health, in my mind.
It also takes a lot for me to trust a physician and for psychiatric medications, that is magnified by a lot because of my previous experiences.
Right now, I am kind of in limbo. I know I need to find the right therapist first and foremost and then go from there in terms of the whole medication “issue.” I need to take it one step at a time and not get ahead of myself. I also find it important to remind myself that in this case, I am not obligated to do anything. I can start seeing a therapist and then stop for no reason at all. I can leave with a prescription for a medication and then decide not to put it in my body, for whatever reason.
I do know I need help and at least for the short term, I will probably need to get over some of the fears I have about some of the medications I don’t want to be on.
Can any of you relate to this? Do you have trouble starting over with a therapist? Do you feel comfortable sharing if you are on medications to help you cope with your Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis? Does lack of sleep impede on your life? If so, have you found anything to be helpful? Do you have any advice for others, like myself, who know they need mental health help but are too afraid to pull the trigger?