Sleepytime Gal

Sunday was a waste. I slept on and off until 6:30 p.m. Granted we were up until about 2 a.m. the night before celebrating Lee’s

Hiding from the World

birthday, but that doesn’t mean yesterday had to slip away from me.

I blame it on the Ambien.

Before Ambien, if I slept all day, I could blame it on my depression. I was too listless to get out of bed. Too sad to show my face to anyone. I would just hide my head under the covers until the feelings passed.

It reminds me of a paper I wrote in college freshman English. What kind of animal would I want to be and why? I wrote that I wanted to be a turtle. I wouldn’t have to travel far from my house (in fact, I wouldn’t have to leave at all), and if I got scared I could retreat into my shell.

And that’s what I would do. People would ask me at work what I did on the weekends, and I would say, “I just relaxed.” I didn’t tell anyone that I stayed in bed all day because I couldn’t face reality.

In 2000, I started taking Effexor, an antidepressant that initially worked for me, then seemed to be not enough when I was going through my divorce in 2002-2003. I went to a psychiatrist, who added Lexapro to the mix. And while THAT worked in the beginning, it caused some problems later on when I started to feel better.

Taking Effexor in itself has had many ups and downs for me. I have to take it with food, and if I don’t I face dire consequences. When I first started on this medication, I had to learn that the hard way. Which made me panic even more, so much so that I thought I was going to have to visit the ER. If I forget to take a pill, I face dire consequences as well. The next day, I am too sick to get out of bed. Nausea, shaking, depression, anxiety. Those are only some of the symptoms. I don’t even want to think of what missing more than one day would be like.

I don’t like Effexor. Upping the dosage when I am having a hard time gives me acid reflux and headaches. Lowering the dosage makes me weepy. But it is the only medication that I have found so far that has worked for me. And I have tried a lot of different drugs.

Peace, not Drugs

So far, I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, and Pristiq. That’s not counting the anti-anxiety drugs that I am on or have taken in the past: Clozenapam, Xanax, and now Ambien.

I went from taking no medications to having a pill box so I wouldn’t forget the several pills I needed each day. It still bothers me that I need medication to even out my brain chemistry, calm my nerves, and now to catch some zzzzz’s.

I didn’t start taking Ambien until I tried switching from Effexor to Cymbalta. You’ve seen the commercials for Cymbalta. The people can’t do anything in the beginning. By the end of the commercial, they are enjoying life and their family, friends, and even pets are so appreciative.

That’s not what happened to me. Even though my psychiatrist gave me a great plan to wean off the Effexor and ramp up the Cymbalta so that I wouldn’t suffer withdrawals, I crashed. I was so depressed every day that tears leaked at the most mundane moments. And to top it all off, I started to have insomnia. I thought the best move was to take something to help me sleep, which would help my mood, instead of just going back to Effexor. Silly girl.

That was about five years ago. I am now back on Effexor at the dosage that I know I have to stay at, no matter what is going on around me, yet I can’t get to sleep without Ambien. In fact, I now am dependent on some Clozenapam as well as Ambien to get to sleep.

And yet I’m still a light sleeper. One noise can wake me up during the night, and I may have to go to another room to go to sleep.

But that’s beside the point. I’m an Ambien addict. I know I am. I’ve tried to wean myself off of it, and the withdrawals are horrible. Yet I know I need to get off of it. And I also need sleep. But not as much as I got on Sunday. It’s a vicious circle. And I’m dizzy.