A Doctor’s Appointment, Sleep Problems and Wrestling With Control

Last night mainly consisted of leg pain and bimbling around the internet in an attempt to distract from the burning in my calves. Sometimes, it gets so bad that I want to cry; but I’ve never cried over the physical pain, I won’t allow myself because it seems self-indulgent. So many have it worse than I, so many are trapped in wheelchairs whereas I can walk, so many need morphine just to exist, whereas I can get by on over the counter drugs and relaxation techniques. Oh, sometimes it hurts more than I can bear, but I can’t seem to let myself accept the pain for what it is; something which occasionally destroys my spirit and brings me so far down that I occasionally consider ending it all, just to be free of it.

I’m far from suicidal, but it doesn’t stop the thoughts creeping in. I know I’m strong enough to kick the demons into touch, but occasionally I let my wandering mind take over, and I wonder; what if I suddenly wasn’t here? What if I were light as air? What if I had no nerves to twinge, no muscles to ache, no skin to bruise? It’s shameful, but I do sometimes wish I was somebody else; someone without physical pain and the constant fear of muscle cramps and blinding headaches.

Dragged myself out of bed at 8am, after an entirely sleepless night. A two-hour nap earlier in the day didn’t help matters; if I sleep during the day, I can’t sleep at night,  no matter what I try, but staying awake all day seems like an impossible task sometimes. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? I mean, everyone gets tired, everyone feels exhausted at times, yet I seem unable to cope with the slightest hint of sleepiness. I look at other people and wonder how they cope with a full day, when all I usually want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for weeks. The idea of working a 9-5 job when I can barely stay awake for more than a few hours horrifies me; how do people do it? It seems so alien to me, so impossible.

The first upset of the day came when I tried putting my new-ish jeans on. A size 12, yet I had to pull them over my thighs in an entirely undignified manner, then strap myself in with a belt to stop them falling down because they won’t go over my hips. How have I let myself put on so much weight? Every day I promise myself I’ll cut down on the carbs, I’ll stop binge-eating, I’ll stop looking to food for comfort, but I inevitably find myself shovelling chocolate and crisps down myself. I feel so unattractive – my weight has always be the focus of my emotions, and right now I’m so unhappy with the way my body looks. My underwear cuts into my hips, rolls of fat hang from sleeveless tops. I’m constantly trying to hold my head up so the fat under my chin doesn’t show as much. Logically, it makes no sense to me – I’m hardly huge. Plump maybe, but not obese. Oddly, I was happier at a size 16 than I am now. I’ve tasted a size 8, I’ve experienced hip bones and a concave belly, and now nothing is good enough.

The second upset was when I tried to walk to my GP’s surgery. It’s only a 5 minute walk, hardly a marathon, yet with every step my legs felt heavier and heavier, until I was almost crawling along. An old lady with a shopping trolley was in front of me, and I realised I was walking slower than her. What’s happened to me? I used to be able to walk miles without the slightest twinge; now I’m out of breath and struggling to cope within a few steps.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to speak to my GP about. I get confused by check-ups. My general health doesn’t tend to improve, and emotionally, I’m quite stable right now, so I felt like a bit of a malingerer. I completely forgot to mention the lupus tests, and instead spoke about my sleep problems and night cramps. I’ve tried every sleeping pill under the sun, and nothing seems to work – my body just doesn’t accept knock-out drugs. I need an elephant-sized dose of valium just to calm me down slightly, so Zopiclone, Zolpidem and everything else just makes me slightly drowsy and irritable. The only thing which calms me is large doses of codeine, which I can no longer be prescribed due to past addiction, so I’m forced to buy co-codamol over the counter and risk my liver with 6 tablets at a time. If my family and the people who care about me knew, they’d be horrified, but sometimes the restlessness and panic is too much and I need something to calm me, before I explode.

After a chat about possible options, I’ve been prescribed a three-week course of melatonin – the body’s sleep hormone. It’s not addictive, but I know my ability to become reliant on any sort of drug, so no doubt I’ll be crying for it when the three weeks is over.  I’ve also been given slow-release beta blockers, after I confessed I’ve been forgetting to take them. Anxiety is creeping back in, and I know it’s because I’ve been slack with keeping track of my medication. Sometimes, I confess, I don’t forget; I just don’t want to take them. I hate being reliant on medication, as though it makes me less of a person. It exposes my weakness in not being able to cope with the world.

Fell asleep almost as soon as I got back home. I’d bought a large bottle of Night Nurse in the pharmacy when waiting for my prescription, because I know it’s good for knocking me out. Sure enough, within ten minutes of swallowing the hideous green liquid (seriously, I know people who drink the stuff, how can they stand the taste?), my legs had that drunk feeling which is so attractive to me, aided by an amitriptyline (I know I shouldn’t take it during the day, but needs must). Tried reading, but fell asleep within half an hour, and slept for 8 hours straight. Very weird dreams; lots of abandoned houses, people from my past and constant danger. It seems to be a regular theme at the moment (the other night, I dreamt I was on an aeroplane which had no roof and I wasn’t strapped in), which worries me a bit – the last thing I need is more recurring dreams to disturb my sleep.

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