Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sleep, it doesn't make me lazy, it helps me live.

~*~ Trigger warning for talk of depression ~*~

I deal with a chemical imbalance called depression, it is just a part of my life and like any other part of me I have adapted to it and am learning to cope when it makes life impossible. Four or five years ago depression had me so tightly in my grasp that I truly couldn't function; I don't know how to describe it except to say that I was in a truly dark place. I honestly could not see even a glimmer of hope and the only thing I was able to focus on was how perfect and logical killing myself would be. I would run through it in my mind, planning it and was totally convinced that that would be the nicest thing I could do for my family. I remember one January I saw our family picture hanging on our fridge and I took it and scanned it into my computer and ever so carefully removed me from the picture, and it just seemed so right to me. That was the depression talking; my depression fills me with a ton of lies repeating them over and over until you just start believing them.

When I finally got help and was put on an anti-depressant and slowly but surely things started to get better I was able to see through the darkness and could cope better with life. I am a great believer in using medication as a tool to deal with depression, and I am grateful for that pill. Thing is, as a full time student I have no health insurance, and the pills that worked for me were insanely expensive. A months’ worth cost nearly as much as a rent payment and that was way out of my reach. It got way to hard each month to try to come up with the money for the sanity pills and one month it just wasn't possible and so I had to go off of them.

I also deal with incredible insomnia; I have since I was young, but it got worse after a traumatic event I experienced caused awful nightmares every time I would fall asleep. I will lie down in bed and my brain will start running and it can take me hours to get to sleep. If I do actually manage to fall asleep I will be awake in 2-4 hours and there is no chance of me sleeping again. This of course compounds the depression I deal with as I will be way too tired to handle a thing. A few years ago I got very sick due to an abscessed tooth that had become so because I just didn't have the money to go get it fixed. Things got so bad that it was making me physically ill, to the point I couldn't even get out of bed. I had an emergency visit to the dentist who prescribed me a huge dose of antibiotics right away and told me if I had waited my longer there could have been very serious consequences as the infection was beginning to move through my body. Because of the infection my tooth couldn't come out immediately and so I had to deal with the pain a bit longer.

That was the first time I took Tylenol pm to get to sleep, and it worked wonderfully I dropped off to sleep quite quickly, no lying in bed for hours driving myself crazy…  just wonderful sleep. So even after the tooth was fixed I continued to use Tylenol pm but I would wake up after an hour or two and not be able to get back to bed. Anyway I managed to figure out a dose that would put me to sleep and keep me asleep for a decent amount of time. I cannot tell you how much of a difference that has made.
I have realized that sleep is vital to me and I need more of it than the 8 hours it is recommended we get. In fact I find that I need 10 hours of sleep a night to keep me stable and since I have been working on getting the right amount of sleep for my body my depression has diminished immensely and I can live my life instead of just existing. I still find it hard to get to sleep before 3 am, I think that is just how my internal clock is set and so I don't try to fight it. 3 am is also when my homework assignments are due and since I work much better in the evening/night I will work til that time and then take an hour or two to wind down before bed.

That is what gets me in trouble however, because I go to sleep so late at night (or early in the morning) it means I am sleeping through the morning and usually wake up after noon. I am often told by people that that isn't healthy or right and they equate it with laziness and so working to give my body as much sleep as it needs is often filled with shame.  I manage to get almost straight A’s in school and handle a graphic design job as I work towards my bachelor’s degree but yet the fact that I sleep most of the morning and am up late at night makes me the wrong one. I am the failure at life.  Yet it is that sleep, and listening to my body’s internal clock that has allowed me to manage my depression, I am able to cope with life AND take on a whole lot more than I ever was able to before and I am successful at it but because of that I am termed lazy yet that is what has let me live my life and it is why I am getting stronger.  I wish people could understand that.


  1. I had that problem when I worked second shift. I would get home from work at midnight or a little after and was so wound up I needed a couple of hours to wind down. So I didn't get to sleep until around 3 a.m. and I also need at least 9 hours of sleep to be able to function in a normal manner. I wasn't getting up until noon, which was fine with me, I lived alone, only had a cat to care for, and that gave me plenty of time to get whatever done I needed to before I had to be back at work at 3 p.m. But people thought I was lazy because I slept till noon, never mind that I worked second shift and didn't get to bed until 3 a.m., they expected me to be able to get up after 4 or 5 hours of sleep and go running around with them.
    I cured them of that habit when I told them that since they worked days, and went to bed at 10 pm, I would call them at 3 am and they could go running around with me on less than 8 hours sleep. Oh no, that wouldn't do, they said. I told them that if they couldn't function on less than 8 hours sleep, then why did they expect me to do it?

  2. Oh man Vesta, I LOVED working the night shift because then the people who give me crap now actually stood up for me and the fact that I needed to sleep during the day. Thing is I am still working now, that is when my brain works best and so I do all my work then and getting more done lol, yet I am lazy. Sadly with my future career of a graphic designer I won't have the option to go somewhere and work a night shift, almost makes me want to go back and work in healthcare!