A Return to the Past

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An interesting thing happens when you get to re-experience something you experienced in the past, especially when you revisit it with a shifted mindset and clarity.

On November 26th, my dose of testosterone was increased from .2ml/wk to .4ml/wk. There was a shift in my sleep patterns in the weeks that followed. I had been, for a couple weeks, not going to bed at 1030-11 as I had scheduled myself to. I was facing a certain level of self induced exhaustion and had been since I started that. However, in the weeks after my dose increased, my exhaustion shifted, imperceptibly, and only on reflection do I realize it.

On Saturday night, January 6th, I had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I spent hours just laying in bed, reading, thinking, exhausted, but not sleeping. It was a familiar state, and one that I had been dreading, but I chalked it up to anxiety. (There is a lot of other things going on right now that are contributing to anxiety, however, that is for another post.) I slept 4 hours that night.

On Sunday night, I felt myself enter that same all too familiar state. I got 4 hours of sleep that night.

Monday night, last night, it repeated itself again, this time, with 3 hours of sleep.

I have a friend who is a nurse. We became friends some 8 months ago and shared our stories. He told me, when I was thinking about restarting testosterone, that he would help me track and make sure that I’m sleeping. When I didn’t sleep, I called on him. Today, he went to the walk in doctor with me, as backup support (that didn’t end up being needed) so that I could ask for sleeping pills. I got prescribed ammitriptyline, the same medication that worked so well 3 years ago when this whole journey started. Tonight is my first dose.

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you re-experience something with a new mindset and clarity. When I first experienced the insomnia due to testosterone, it came on suddenly. I had an erratic sleep schedule. I was regularly having nights of no sleep and didn’t initially attribute the insomnia to anything other than a cycle, thinking it would end soon. I self medicated with sugar, reading, and social time. It went on far too long before I sought help.

Over the last two years, I have put a lot of work into living healthy, including my sleep habits and hygiene. I have everything down to a schedule and rules I have to follow to ensure proper sleep. My body is now used to getting between 6 and 9 hours a night, often more on the weekends. My brain is used to it as well. If I have a poor night’s sleep, I can expect to feel physically exhausted the next day or two, with little energy for running around and chasing the kids I look after. (Though, I’m always up for reading and talking for hours, if I can convince them, no matter how physically exhausted I am.)

With the insomnia this week, I noticed a shift. My body was ready to play. I had energy to do everything I wanted to do physically. My brain, on the other hand, did not. I couldn’t focus on anything, still can’t. I feel mentally exhausted, like I’m dragging myself along and have to force myself to do every little task. Yes, let’s play a chasing game, ride our bikes for hours, run, climb, but please, don’t make me read out loud or ask me difficult questions!

I also felt a deep seated hunger that wasn’t sated by normal meals. The only thing that rectified it is sugar, in large doses. I remembered this hunger from descriptions I’d used in the past. I’ve always sugar loaded on insomnia days. When I wasn’t sleeping and going to school, I was constantly eating chocolate and candy or drinking pop. At work, I’d drink 2 or 3 pops in an 8hour shift. I’d keep myself in a steady stream of sugar.

With the shift to living healthier that I’ve done in the last year and a half, I’ve almost completely cut processed sugar from my diet. The last three days have been fraught with craving after craving and a gentle pain in the pit of my stomach. When I was at dinner tonight with my friend, I drank two glasses of pop and felt, for about an hour, a clarity that I’d missed all day. I had focus enough to hold an in depth conversation about our friendship and how things are moving. I was also better able to relate to him my symptoms. After it wore off, I was back to the way I’d been all day, bouncing from topic to topic to topic, sometimes in the same breath.

I do not feel this way when I don’t sleep because I haven’t gone to bed.

There’s a clarity there now that I didn’t have the first time around. I will be decreasing my dose of testosterone on the weekend. In the meantime, I really really hope that the sleeping pills work as effectively this time as they did last time.

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