Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fearing Sleep

Sometimes I write not because I'm still needing to process the subject matter but because I feel like sharing a certain part of "my story" might help someone else. Over the last two years I have received many emails from friends and strangers alike telling me that reading my posts has helped them, inspired them, given them strength. And so, occasionally, I share certain things mostly because I hope that by speaking my truth I might reach someone who can be helped by my experiences.

With the 4th of July right around the corner I've been thinking a lot about what the 4th was like for my 2 years ago. It has been on my mind consistently for the past several days, so hopefully by getting it in writing I can get it out of my head. I had filed for divorce just a month earlier, June 2nd, to be exact. My ex had moved out of the house two weeks before the holiday and for the time being we were alternating spending weekends at the house with the kids. Right before he moved out I paid a visit to my doctor. I'm not one for taking prescription meds for "mood" issues, but I was really in a place where I felt like I might need something. After telling my doctor the whole story of what was going on I claimed to be depressed and in need of an anti-depressant. She disagreed and told me I just needed sleep.

On many occasions during the course of my marriage I had been afraid to fall asleep. Fearing sleep was nothing new for me. But after I had filed and while we were still living in the same house, my ex refused to leave our bed which meant I would. I spent the next few weeks on the couch in our den or on a mattress on the floor of my girlfriend's guest room. On the nights I spend in my house in the den, I couldn't fall asleep for anything. I was afraid to close my eyes, afraid to let my guard down, afraid to be vulnerable by sleep.

My doctor gave me a low dose of Ambien. No luck. I still couldn't sleep. She doubled my dose. Nope, still couldn't fall asleep. So on July 3rd she called in an anti-anxiety med that I was supposed to take before I went to help me sleep. I was staying at my parents' house that weekend as they were out of town for the holiday. Utterly exhausted, I took my pill at 9pm and didn't wake up until noon the next day. Aside from being the best sleep I've had probably ever, I woke up feeling like I wanted to kill myself. Really. I grabbed the bottle and sure enough..."stop taking if you have thoughts of suicide." A little late for that!!!

I picked up the phone and called Dave. All my local friends were out of town for the weekend. If I called my parents and told them I was feeling suicidal they would have freaked out. It was a strange feeling to know that you don't really want to kill yourself, but feeling like you are stuck in a dark hole and and maybe, just maybe you do want to kill yourself. Dave told me to take an ephedra and get my ass to Starbucks ASAP and then hit the gym and knock out some cardio to work it out of my system. Sure enough, after the ephedra and coffee I perked right up. I am so lucky that Dave was there at the right time with the right advice. Hey, if the doctor is out for the holidays, call the other doctor.

I ended up cutting my dose in half. When I got home the next week I changed all the locks on my house and told my ex it was time to stop sharing weekends at the house. This just wasn't going to work.

As far as my fear of sleep - I want to use as much discretion here as possible - but I know there are many women who, at the end of the night fall victim to the behaviors of those who abuse alcohol and have anger issues. My ex usually chose to wake me out of a sleep to verbally or physically harm me. Even on nights when things were calm, I would still sleep clutching the edge of the bed to be as far away from him as possible. And my spare car key was kept under my mattress. I always had my guard up. Looking back, it's hard for me to believe I put up with that for as long as I did. Someone asked me the other day..."why?" I still do not have an answer. He was never my prince charming but I think I hoped if I loved him enough he would change. And we can only change that's what I did.

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