Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

The Elusive Conquest: Sleep

I have been an insomniac all my life, in varying degrees, but never so extreme as when I developed bipolar disorder. Or rather I should say, prone to insomnia. As a child I wouldn’t sleep at all it seemed the night before the first day of school. Not because of dread but for pure excitement’s sake. Or, before a big party or event. I still don’t. When there is a big occasion coming up: an out-of-town wedding I’m looking forward to…my excitement builds…my insomnia flares. I don’t get good sleep for weeks beforehand and crash (from pure exhaustion for many, many weeks afterward.) Does this keep me from attending? NO! I live. I must live! I must enjoy and life my life!

Here is my illusive dream:

“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”
― Robert A. HeinleinStarship Troopers

Of course there is much more to my happiness or I wouldn’t have much. But, this quote speaks, sings to me. In my early days with bipolar I was more heavily medicated and slept very hard. I also worked 40 hours a week in marketing and sales! I did this for many years! And helped, along with my hard-working, sweet husband raise our family of one dear daughter: getting her to school and hockey and softball games. Ah youth!

But, now I am 64. And sleep is my elusive dream. I often go to bed very early ~ 9 at the latest ~ and I’m wide awake at 2. But five hours at my age is really not to bad, I’m told! So that is a very good night. The world is still asleep at 2 a.m. so it’s a great time to write a book! 🙂 The house is so quiet. No one stirs. Often I watch the news or Frasier reruns. Sometimes I meditate using an app on my phone, or read. The house is peaceful. I take my pills and eat breakfast at 4. Gluten free granola with berries and nuts, almond milk…perhaps some cinnamon decaf tea. Quiet pursuits. I don’t fight it. I get up and live. I’ve quit battling for sleep.

I try not to do my favorite thing: Sleep in the day…that perpetuates the saga. It’s very hard not to. I’m a better at napping than my father and he’s good. He takes short naps. I could sleep for hours. But, if I do…I flip my nights and days around in no time and that is a slippery slope! No caffeine allowed to right myself. My blood pressure will go too high! It’s easy to do and can take me months to slowly turn my days and nights back the way they were.

How much all this has to do with being bipolar? I’m not sure. They are all intertwined. Sleep is vital to stability in a person with bipolar disorder. Yet, I was an insomniac before bipolar manifested at age 23. Here is my diagnosis straight from my chart for your viewing information: Bipolar Disorder I in remission. Anxiety. Insomnia. The remission part means that I am not actively manic at this time. Or actively in a depression.

Although, I’m not actively depressed. I experience depression. Just a bit. Around the edges, but not enough to incapacitate me. Anxiety is giving me more trouble now ~ as is insomnia. That is my temperature…taken today.

It doesn’t sound so bad…so why write about it? Because, I am trying to keep it from limiting me. Even at this level, there are many days that I do the bare minimum: maybe a load of laundry, tidy the apartment, sit in my recliner for hours watching Hallmark Christmas movies and playing with social media on my phone, barely getting dressed. What could I be doing? Getting dressed to go out. Walking my dog. Working out in the gym in our apartment property. Calling friends on the phone, etc.  It’s all the things I’m not doing that haunt me. Things I think about and do not do because I don’t “feel like it”. I’m not lazy. I just really don’t feel too well. It makes me feel like crying. I can’t explain it. It’s hard to push myself and I want to be still and feel safe. I don’t know what’s unsafe about the rest. There’s nothing wrong with any of it. It just seems so hard. I’m happy relating to my friends online and watching my shows, talking to my dog and staying cozy inside.

I’m going out today. My sister and cousin and aunt are going out for my sister’s birthday. My sis is picking me up. I am very happy about it. She’s picking me up this afternoon. I can hardly wait! This isn’t hard for me. Being with people I love. Going to lunch. And when I get back…it’s almost time for Mike to be home and the weekend. The best time of the week!

Well, that’s a bit of my struggle with sleep…share yours with me. I look forward to hearing from you! It’s 3:34 a.m. ~ Almost time for breakfast!2014.Paintings2Acrylic Art copyright Libby Baker Sweiger 2017 Joyous Art Designs


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