By Yohanna Abdullah
Today I chatted with my colleague and she reminded me that the key to heal from bipolar disorder is a good night’s sleep. It is as simple as that and yet it is not so easy to do that except with medications. She took sleeping pills for five years before she recovered fully and can sleep naturally and fitfully.
Another colleague with bipolar disorder has been taking sleeping pills diligently for two years. These two friends of mine have not had a manic episode in years whereas I had two relapses in April and November-December.
The lack of sleep is usually how my mania starts. It escalates as the nights pass without sufficient sleep. I would be on denial and tell myself, “yesterday you did not sleep well but today God-willing you will sleep like a bipolar bear.” Then it happened that I got maybe just two or three hours of sleep and I felt as high as a helium balloon. Then, I lost myself in mania. By the time I took some sleeping pills, they no longer work. The reason why I refused to take them earlier was because I hated the drugs as they made me groggy and not so functional in the morning and many times I could not fall asleep even when I took them.
Since my last appointment with my psychiatrist there has been some tweaking in my medicines. Although I don’t take sleeping pills, one of my medications has a sedative effect and I have been getting generally good sleep. It is a blessing to be able to sleep. Insomniacs are well aware of that.
My longest period without adequate sleep was 12 days. Really too many days before I seek treatment as when my sleep goes, so does my judgement. That is when I would wear two watches, one on each hand, put a pink African daisy on my scarf and feel free to appear at work in my weekend togs.
Restful sleep is key to good health. This is true for everyone with or without illnesses and especially for those grappling with ill health. It is nature’s way of healing and restoring the body so that it can function optimally.
I love going to sleep from young as I look forward to interesting dreams at night. It felt like watching a movie with me as the star! I still enjoy my nightlife. I try not to think too hard about the problem of trying to fall asleep and not being successful at it. The more I worry if I can snooze, the more difficult it is to fall into a hypnotic state of oblivion and bliss.
So my health mantra is “Have a good night’s sleep.” This means taking my medication religiously and go to bed, for most nights at 10 pm and I allow myself one late night a week where I sleep at midnight latest. There is a cure for mental illness and it begins with me. Only I can help myself but with the love and encouragement and support of my family and friends the journey will be smoother and easier. So do take care of ourselves and our loved ones. God-willing when there is a will there is a way.