My husband and I enjoy old movies. My favorite movies of all time are Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life. In fact, we have a jumbo canvas print of an original movie poster from It’s a Wonderful Life hanging in our kitchen–it’s my husband’s favorite movie as well. Over the past week or so, my husband and I have been watching snatches of a classic movie we hadn’t seen before, Citizen Kane. Desperate to understand the meaning of Charles Foster Kane’s dying words, “rosebud,” we stayed up much later than usual to watch the conclusion of this film.
It was almost 11:30 when we turned off the blu-ray player and tv and started heading upstairs to bed. I could feel right away that staying up so late had not been a wise choice, on my part. I didn’t feel great emotionally. I could feel some mental pain creeping in at that point.
I have learned, over the years, that no matter how good I feel during the day, sleep is not something I can compromise on.
Sleep disruptions, such as having trouble falling and staying asleep, were the hallmark of my child and teen years. And even then, I can remember my mom remarking on my excessive “grumpiness” after a poor sleep. In the home video made at my wedding reception, my mom and sister both made sure to record for all of my posterity (and my new husband, Ryan), that I should never be allowed to get tired or hungry, (or stressed) because each of these states would cause me to be “very grumpy.” I was, of course, annoyed at this reference to my moodiness, but they were right. This has been true for me throughout my entire life.
The effects of fatigue have been most pronounced when my thyroid was also out of wack. I can remember after the birth of my first son, before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I was in a constant state of emotional distress from being so tired and never being able to recover. I asked my mother in law at that time, with exasperated and exhausted tears, “Will I ever feel better?” Some months later, after breaking down emotionally in the doctor’s office, a doctor finally thought to check my thyroid and after getting proper treatment, I was able to feel relief from the constant, plaguing fatigue.
Throughout my most recent episode of depression, falling asleep was extremely difficult due to the persistent, agonizing mental pain I was experiencing. Thankfully, over time, things got better and now, as long as I get to bed at a decent hour, I can sleep without problem.
Last night, however, I pushed myself too hard. When I lay down on my pillow to sleep, my mind was exploding with pain. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to remember how I had gotten through it before. I attempted to relax and clear my mind, but it was to no avail. I finally prayed for help, and before I knew it, I was waking in the morning. I was tired from a late night but extremely grateful that I had fallen asleep so quickly. It was a good reminder for me that I can’t be careless about my approach to getting enough sleep.
Submitting to the fact that I need my sleep, and not compromising in this area, is one thing I have had to come to terms with when managing the symptoms of my bipolar depression.
There are other things I have come to terms with, and I will cover these topics in future posts. Because Bipolar Disorder is a chronic health condition, I have learned I have to make lifestyle choices that support me in feeling my best–just like any other chronic health problem.
What are your experiences with sleep and mental illness? What struggles have you had? How have you dealt with them?
As always, I love to hear from you! Comment to share your experiences.