Awake early again today in ominous presentiment of what life will be like without antidepressants. Oh, and after a peculiarly comforting dream about doing sex work – who knows. I’m a little nervous about chatting with the doctor today, but I’m sure they’ll be supportive. Which doctor it will be I can’t remember, since I don’t really have a regular doctor any more. I suppose that’s one reason that I’ve remained on these things for so long – ten, twelve years? While I get a regular-ish (lockdown stretched the definition of regular into new and exciting shapes) check-up on my asthma and blood pressure (at different times, obviously) I can’t think of the last time I talked about the antidepressants and whether they’re really doing their thing. I suppose I have also been content to simply accept them and not think too hard about what they’re for or what they do. Or how they also limit me, both in emotional range and simply being awake and functional in late evening. The number of times M has tried to wake me up in the middle of the night – either because there’s been some awful crashing noise or because a cat has brought a live pigeon to the bedroom, for example –and been unable to rouse me isn’t very helpful either.
So what do they do? They help me sleep, for sure. And just as importantly, to stay asleep until I’m woken up either by my other half or that nightmare bastard sun who seems to be abroad at devastatingly early o’clock. Or our big ginger cat Geiger coming for a morning snuggle and purr. But I can usually drift back off after those things, still caught in the druggy drag net pulling me along into unconsciousness. I am concerned about what sleep and waking will be like without amitriptyline, but I ought to remind myself that it fails me about one night in four anyway and it takes ages to get to sleep or I keep waking up. So it’s not even that good. I am, of course, gonna have to deal with the dependency that’s developed, I absolutely see it as a critical support, even if it doesn’t always work.
A greater concern, and something I’m going to have to watch much more carefully, is not sliding into the habits that preceded (and sometimes have accompanied) the sleeping tablets. There were lots of good reasons for starting with them: sleep was patchy at best, I was unable to relax, filled with that ghastly tide of anxiety which would just flood me with adrenaline when it was time to close my eyes and go to sleep. I was also working on resolving a fair old bunch of traumatic memories and feelings and really just knocking me out and taking a big chunk of the nervous edge of life away was a good plan. Because before that I’d been self-medicating heavily anyway. Booze will eventually knock me out, but the quality of the sleep isn’t good, I’ll probably snore (and thus possibly get smothered in the night), and although I wouldn’t get a hangover, I might as well have done. Weed on the other hand wouldn’t get me to sleep, but it would relax and distract me enough not to worry that I wasn’t sleeping, which is a partial win. Both of those options are still very much available, but I am a tiny bit older and wiser and at least know that these aren’t going to be strategies which will actually help me to sleep, will just distract me from sleeping. I suspect a tee-total period may be coming… Time to investigate all the new alcohol free beers that have arrived since the last time I had to go zero-alc (when I started the sleeping tablets!). I’ve found a reasonable equilibrium with the amitriptyline, I know exactly what a beer beforehand or a whiskey afterwards will feel like and how it will affect (accelerate) getting to sleep, and what the degree of lag first thing the next day will be like. I suppose it’s time to unlearn some of that and get used to something new, again.