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Calling Myself Out, Gently

Posted Sep 02 2012 11:37am

Up until a few years ago I was an excellent sleeper. I’d get into bed, read for a little while, turn off the light, and go right to sleep (soundly) until the next morning.

Then the insomnia started (perimenopause-induced). Melatonin worked wonders. Then my anxiety got worse (those wacky hormones again). I’d wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding, all sorts of scary thoughts running through my mind, unable to get back to sleep.

Over the past year I have relied on Xanax (one-half of the lowest dose available) to keep me asleep. My hormone doctor (Dr. M) prescribed it for me because he didn’t like the idea of me being on Klonopin (and neither did I, based on what I’d read about it) that had been prescribed by a psychiatric APRN. Dr. M has also suggested all sorts of natural/herbal remedies, adding that the bioidentical progesterone I take is supposed to aid sleep. None of it works.

(On a side note, I believe I am doing everything “right” in terms of setting the stage for a good night’s sleep: I avoid carbs after dinner, I don’t watch TV or use electronics before bed, I have a relaxing nightly routine…)

When the prescription ran out, I called Dr. M and he had it refilled for me. A few weeks ago, when I noticed that I was almost out, I called Dr. M’s office and asked for a refill. The next day I went to the pharmacy and was told that it hadn’t been called in. I called Dr. M back and he said that he felt uncomfortable doing this and suggested that my primary care doctor (Dr. P) do it instead.

At this point I was starting to feel a bit ashamed.

Now, I usually only see Dr. P once a year for an annual exam, but she had prescribed anti-anxiety medication for me several years ago when we took our first cruise, and another time when I was nervous about flying. So I called Dr. P’s office and told a lie. I said that I was going on a trip and needed the anti-anxiety medication. I was asked when I needed it and was told that, if there were any problems, someone would call me back.

I am feeling the sting of shame just typing this out.

I went to the pharmacy the next day and it hadn’t been called in. By this time, I had run out of Xanax. I hadn’t slept well the night before. But I remained outwardly calm.

I went again the next day and still nothing. Nonchalant. I purchased a few other items. As I made my way out of the store, I remembered that the companies that make Nyquil and Tylenol PM now have a “sleep-only” product. So I picked up some Zzzquil and went to the front of the store to pay. Right behind me was a rack full of bagged candy…and so I grabbed a small bag of Smarties. Yes, I thought about it first. I took them home. They sat on the counter for a day. The next day I ate them.

It wasn’t until a few days later (right now) that I made the connection between my emotion (shame and guilt for feeling like a drug addict because I need half a Xanax to sleep) and my Smarties binge.

In those few intervening days, I felt both physically and mentally/emotionally off kilter. The amount of candy I ate wasn’t all that much of a binge relatively speaking, but it represented me avoiding my so-called ugly feelings:

guilt (I LIED to a doctor!)

embarrassment (the pharmacist must think I’m an addict)

anger (the freaking doctors!!)

and fear (what if I can’t sleep without medication? what have I done to myself?)

And so I am gently calling myself out here – not for needing the medication, not for the feelings I tried to avoid, not for eating the candy – but for not acknowledging my feelings. See the difference?

Now that I have acknowledged these feelings I can see more clearly. I am empowered to help myself. This is what self-acceptance looks like.

Meanwile, The Zzzquil works pretty well, but not as well as Xanax. So I need to work WITH my doctors to figure this out.

 I’m curious…do you sleep well without any supplements or medications? If not, what do you take?

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