Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Medicine is a practice. Practice often involves mistakes. As humans, mistakes are ultimately unavoidable. Drugs are made by humans. I found Ambien, a sleeping medication, to be one of these mistakes.
While my body may be inadequate on some levels, my thoughts and my mentality are so important to me. I want to be able to find peace within myself even when I'm surrounded by this chaos. M.E. is a neurological disease, too. The daily pain and struggles don't even compare to the struggles I have mentally. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this may be affecting me cognitively. I took so much pride in the good grades that came naturally to me... It's hard for me to focus and concentrate now. Even with writing, I have to search longer than usual for the sentences that once flowed out of me. Granted, I have been out of school for nearly 6 months. I'm also taking a lot of medications with these continuous lists of side effects. But I get so embarrassed when I slip up. I usually just brush it off with a "I'm just a little out of it". Meanwhile, my mind is racing. Searching. Trying to find where I missed that piece of vital information. Nothing is more disheartening to me than when I can't find the source of the problem. Even with all the pains, I can at least explain them physiologically. I'm accepting of what life has played out for me, and I just focus on each day. I cling to every good moment I can, taking mental recordings to play them later when I'm feeling lost. This way of living seems so.. empty, sometimes. I wake up, and within a few moments, I may wish that it was the next day already. Sleep serves as not only a time for my body to heal itself, but as some peace of mind. I know when I wake, I'll have a fresh start. 
Insomnia is a very contradicting side effect of this disease. I go between sleeping hours and hours to just laying awake, twisting and turning out of discomfort. I feel tired most of the time, but it's more than just being "tired". I've had lead blankets put on top of me for MRIs, and CTs, and X-Rays. It sometimes feels like these blankets have taken a permanent cover over all my skin. Sleep is what I need. Sleep doesn't always come, and it doesn't always stay. Sleeping medications assure that I'll fall asleep quickly, and stay asleep, despite the aches and irritation. 
With my new sleeping medication, Ambien, I certainly fell asleep quickly. But with this drug, it only placed my body into a trance. Like hypnotizing. My mind was still conscious. It's very hard for me to describe the night terrors that overwhelmed me the following nights while on this medicine, and the ones that stayed around even when I stopped taking it. Without going into too much detail, it's understandably hard for anyone to shake that bad dream during the day. These terrors seemed to suck me in to their vivid moments of agony, torture, and despair completely. I was so terrified. I was afraid to sleep. I was afraid of my own mind. This drug cracked the strong barriers I used to protect myself from the expected emotions that come with any struggles we face. My mind, the very thing that kept me sane, turned on me. I had no control over those images and scenarios while I was asleep.
I noticed my Cleveland doctor was hesitant to prescribe me this medicine. I honestly didn't do a lot of research on it before I took it- it was FDA approved, and I was very eager to get a good night's sleep. I obviously missed the scary side effects... things besides just sending weird texts or rearranging the objects in my room while asleep. I understand that every drug has a different effect on each patient. I stopped taking this medication almost a week ago, and I'm still apprehensive for each night's "rest".
I haven't blogged in a while, simply because my mind was so chaotic. This situation is much more private to me than I'd normally feel comfortable sharing. I hope those reading understand my embarrassment, confusion, disappointment, and insecurity on this topic. Although, I have found that blogging about this seems to give me some distance from it. If I remove the fear of the situation even slightly, like by taking some courage to post about it, it will have less control over me. My mind serves as a safe place, a good place, despite it all.
Mistakes are meant to be learned from. I'll continue to preach to do research on your own health and medications, and to be an advocate for your own body. This idea of accepting and conquering what life throws at you is very, very hard sometimes. I'm healing slowly, filling in that crack. We're sensitive creatures. I always stress the importance of the angels in my life, but there also has to be some sense of independence and self-relience. My relationship with God (no matter how rocky it may be), with myself, and with those who support me help keep my peace of mind protected. It is well known how a very small thing can have such a huge impact on us. That goes for everything we do in life. Our words, our actions, our body language, and even our thoughts can make a difference- for better or for worse. The Ambien pill is not even the size of an M&M. I took a half a pill for only a few nights. It was so tiny, yet so destructive. 

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