A while ago I wrote about being sleepy. I now have an answer, a reason for all that sleepiness: sleep apnea. It’s not sexy, but it’s also not conversion disorder, which was my big fear.
So there’s something actually wrong that the data supports, and you cannot imagine how exciting that is to someone who has dealt with conversion disorder. It’s a sort of validation. That my anxiety is not so all-powerful that it is changing the way I sleep or forcing me to sleep throughout the day.
My CPAP machine has not yet been delivered, but I’ve been coping for a little while now on a new medication. In my Sleepy post, I mentioned a sample. I since received a prescription for a medication called Sunosi. I first took a sample dose in late November and began a prescription in December.
I cannot tell you whether anyone else should ever take this medication, but I can tell you my experience. Precious little is written anecdotally about this medication on the internet as of today, as I found when it was first prescribed for me.
If you want to read about Sunosi and its mechanism for working, its risks, and all that, go here. If you want to know what it has been like to take the medication, read on.
The medication begins at a small dose and increases at intervals until the patient is taking the highest indicated dose. During that transitional period, I had my first passes with being awake, really awake, in a long time. But I also experienced crashes. A few to several hours after a dose, I would crash and all my sleep pressure would tumble down on me with force. However, once I settled on my highest dose for a couple of weeks, the crashes disappeared. The medication granted me about nine hours of alert wakefulness, which was amazing, truly, but I thought there might be a way to extend my day.
I asked and was given permission by my doctor to take half of my dose in the morning and the other half six hours later. This was when a switch flipped in my life. I went from sleeping 14-16 hours every day to being awake 13-15 hours. Most days, no naps.
Now when I am awake, I am alert and capable. I don’t see life through a haze. I am engaged with the people in my life and with my work. I arise in the morning and go to bed in the evening, and it feels terrific.
For a long time, sleeping, particularly daytime sleeping, has felt to me like my own moral failure. Now I see that morality has nothing to do with this situation. My depression is in as small a place as it’s been in years, maybe ever. My anxiety doesn’t overwhelm me often; I’ve had one panic attack in two months. Despite feeling like I went to sleep in my thirties and awoke in my forties, I am more positive, motivated, and assured than I have felt in so very long.
I look forward to getting the CPAP machine. I look forward to oxygenating my brain and body throughout a night of sleep. I am eager to see how that impacts my life. (And, yes, I know it may be a bumpy road.)
But, y’all, being awake is nothing short of inspiring. If you’re struggling with oversleeping, see your doctor. See a sleep doctor. Get help, because help exists. You do not have to sleep through all of your life. You can carve out times to be present and available and awake.