Can’t focus.Can’t sleep.What can you do?

The last month has been a challenge. I had a medication change that had the wonderful side effect of wanting to eat EVERYTHING in the house. It started out helping with the depressive episodes and irritability, but I was hungry all the time. In the end the side effects didn’t outweigh the benefits. Which means…back to being impatient, irritable and dealing with sleep issues again.

Insomnia has always been a problem. Even in a depressive swing, I can’t sleep. I go one, two, three nights with an hour here or there. Finally, my brain just can’t handle anymore, and it crashes. But until then, days are exhausting, I have no energy, and the irritability is off the charts. I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m impatient and feel extremely foggy. As I get more and more tired the racing, obsessive thoughts start to creep in. My brain grabs on to a worst-case scenario thought, or just a simple to do list item and the loop begins. It’s like 10 televisions are on in my head and all of them are blaring the same thing, on loop.  Or a skip on a record that just plays the same bit over and over. It causes a huge amount of anxiety. I can hear my internal voice trying to calm myself, tell me to think of something else, take a breath, count, anything to distract from the loop. Sometimes I can interrupt the loop, sometimes I have to wait for it to run its course. Its exhausting. It’s never positive things. If the loop just said things like “you’re awesome”, “you are killing it today”,” you look great”, who would mind? My racing thoughts are typically negative, filled with worry, and at worst irrational with a touch of paranoia. If I haven’t been sleeping well, they happen more frequently, and not just at night.

Is the bipolar the cause of poor sleep or does the poor sleep flare the bipolar? Being tired makes focusing, even on the littlest things, a huge challenge. Holding a conversation, leaving the house, getting dressed. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I just want some calm, some quiet. I feel like I’m struggling to talk, to find the right words to finish a sentence. It’s frustrating. Blogging is difficult. Keeping a train of thought challenging.  Baking is out of the question. Following directions is difficult and I’ve done steps more than once or skipped putting ingredients in all together. On these types of days, I will play my favorite movie, or sit outside and watch the birds and try and find quiet. Sometimes music helps. I often go to sleep with my ear buds in playing my calming playlist. Or I’ll listen to an audiobook.  

Throughout the years I’ve tried many different sleep medications. None being effective. Sometimes they would slow the racing thoughts enough that I could fall asleep. Most I stayed awake through and they would leave me groggy and foggy the next day. Instead I take my medications at night, avoid alcohol, try and keep a sleep schedule, avoid caffeine after noon. Racing thoughts and insomnia are just part of the swings. I manage them the best I can. they affect my interactions during the day and cause a great deal of anxiety at the night. I have to be mindful of changes in routine. If the racing thoughts and sleep become a problem past a certain number of days, I know it’s time to check in with my doctor.  This is my reality. Some days are good. Some days are a struggle.  But at the end of the day I need to remember that it is ok. Take a deep breath, try my coping skills, and know that it will get better.


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