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Mental Health Track 035

So what’s today? This is a Friday. All good. I had sleep last night – I’ve begun to think of it like a drug in its own right, one that is slipped into my brain rather than the predictable yet inconvenient habit of sticking a pill or a needle in me. It is a narcotic, a homebrewed hallucinatory self-annihilating dug combined with essential brain repair tools. Whatever I had wasn’t enough to stop me lurching into wakefulness at 3.33am convinced that my alarm had gone off and it was now morning. I got all the way to the bedroom door before I realized it was still dark. Overslept a bit and woke up feeling fuzzy but better than I have for a few days. I then gave in and had the serious coffee I stopped using a year or more ago because it was both making me anxious and doing intolerable things to my blood pressure. I am, however, presently awake and even managed two meetings this morning without being excessively weird or distant (I think).

Again, a review of what worked: much the same as Wednesday evening, out and about with improv to be done. Socialising and being “on” enough to perform or participate in a workshop is inherently tiring, not so much in terms of spoons or whatever, but simply in terms of energy expenditure. That, plus the addition 40-45 minutes of cycling exercise. There’s also having a couple of drinks, and the Horlicks when I got home. It also means I end up going to bed later than I’d like, especially if I’m aiming for an eight-hour sleep period. Once more I don’t know what part or combination were effective in going to sleep. But, importantly it demonstrates that I can sleep, even if it’s not for quite long enough. That’s immensely reassuring, but I don’t yet know if it’s gonna be repeatable frequently enough to be useful. If it turns out I can do two OK nights’ sleep back to back once in a fortnight that isn’t going to be sufficient.

I have to keep reminding myself why I’m doing this, as my attention evaporates and short term memory begins to fragment. The goals are several and not always clear, because they overlap and interrelate. They’re also kind of questions and explorations of whether the goals themselves are achievable, because ten or more years into taking a drug for dealing with three things (sleep, depression and anxiety) at the same time blurs a bunch of lines:

  1. sleep unaided
  2. have a normal* range of emotions
  3. have evenings in which I’m not just drowsy through how long it takes drugs to kick in

 *for me, whatever that is, because I don’t know how far the amitriptyline acts not just in enabling sleep but in suppressing emotional turbulence which historically has caused immense problems with sleeping.

Obviously 1 and 3 aren’t going brilliantly, the latter because the former leaves me fucked beyond all recognition some days to a much worse extent than the pre-hangover of sleeping tablets. 2 is more interesting… I don’t feel very different. I haven’t experienced a rise (fall?) in depressive mood, and I’ve had no resurgence of anxiety and racing thoughts when preparing for bed. So it’s possible that the constant use of amitriptyline has masked a decline anxiety in particular over the last decade. There are a bunch of environmental, work, emotional and relationship factors in there I guess all of which have removed a lot of the cause or basis for anxiety. Mood being stable is pretty grand. Despite being knackered and hollow, I’m not sad or angry about it, both of which are emotional arrows down into the depths. So that’s pretty cool. I need more time I think, but the idea that I might need to take something like amitriptyline (probably amitriptyline, the alternatives are very similar and having tried some previously, they aren’t good for me) solely for sleep ­– and that it might not be making me a different person, even in small and subtle ways – feels promising. I’m already on a tonne of different medicines for chronic conditions and that’s fine. Having one more for chronic insomnia but not for fixing my emotional and interior self sounds alright to me. It would still mess up 3, but maybe there are routine changes and some more purposeful planning on what evenings, especially late evening, are for that would approach this goal.

So yeah, that’s where we are today. I’m also aware that my monomaniacal focus on whether I’m sleeping or not is not quite the same as thinking about how I’m feeling – “tired” isn’t a meaningful or helpful answer for “how are you”. I’m mostly quite chipper, but being tired also erodes the potential for feeling anything at all, in much the same way that I’ve always feared taking amitriptyline might. So that’s a fun catch-22 thing. More attention required.

A quietish weekend ahead, barring nice other people birthday things. Let’s get some more sleep team.

Mental Health Track

A purposeful daily attempt to track how I feel and what I’m doing.

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