marching orders

soldiers marchingNB  1946

No one says to you “Sleep is out. Sleep is one of the first things to go.” Though it can be. And they don’t say “This might make you sleep through your life,” even though it could: if you follow the instructions on the label, sometimes you’ll find yourself flat out before you know it, face down into a pillow, breathing that longer breath.

“Keep your patterns regular,” they do tell you. Psychiatrist says, “A proper bedtime, a regular sleep schedule, is often half the battle;” but what is it other kinds of people say about battles and war? One is only a composite part, the other is what goes on and on.

I have finally switched medications, fully. I have traded one pill for another. Huey Lewis sang in my mother’s voice while I made the change, as I spoke to her over the phone. “I Want A New Drug.” Yes, I do indeed. And I can’t complain, now that I’ve got it; not really. The quetiapine had been rendering me nonfunctional. It had me out. Out cold. Out to lunch. Every time I got up to enter the world I was contending with the bends—that drug had been sinking me such a long way down.

But while taking it, I hadn’t been oscillating—traveling back and forth between those two poles of extreme. I had felt more-or-less constant: a relief; restful in a different way from the obliterating void of sleep. Which amounted to one battle won, but still at war.

The goal of the campaign, as I understand it—though I sometimes feel more of a foot soldier than a general—is to live somewhat normally. (What is normal you ask?) To finally access the greater world, where people emerge from the caverns of themselves to busy in the light. Make lists. Get things done. Being free from the dark of depression was good; not ricocheting off my own walls in mania, equally nice; but if you sleep too much, you hardly get anything done. So victory over this basic stability was something to be celebrated, something closer to what I imagine “feeling pretty good most of the time,” might be like; but it wasn’t it. The battlefield still stretches out: millions of neurons connected like a continent of roads, key positions still untended; some fallen to deserters and chaos.

So those pills are out of the bottle, down the drain, and ziprasidone is in. Atypical antipsychotic number three. Cue fanfare.

It wasn’t supposed to be over so quickly. Psychiatrist told me to keep taking the former while I moved to the latter: a tactical retreat; the moving in of Special Forces. Bugger that, I thought. No way. Pull ‘em out. Get ‘em in.

I’m quite certain now that I consequently went a little hypo. Hypo-manic. Hypo-active.

“You are a little jazzed,” Turtle said, “but you were suppressed for a long time.”

Five and a half months, to tell the truth. Almost half a year. Coming out of it, I was charged, alive, and ready for a fight. I rode that wave for a couple of weeks, upright and engaged. I bounded to work, to the gym. I started writing this blog again.

And this is where it comes to not sleeping. The troops are up. They’re ready. This is where I wake up—really wake up—and take another shot at capturing an enemy base. The conflict is civil, both sides within my boarders.

The manic tendencies are fading, perhaps have faded, to a tolerable hum in my bones; my urge to multitask every moment of my day, receded to a vague—rather than consuming—ambition; but I’ve forgotten how to sleep. My body has lost the trick. This theoretical “regular schedule” is a little beyond my ken: to bed at 12:30; asleep by 1… 30; up at 5. Not just up, roused, and aroused, feeling ready for my day. But it’s dark, dark, dark outside, and something inside me knows full well that I should be under the covers, being restful and full of dreams.

For the time being I’ve had enough. I stare at the ceiling, wiggle my toes and say, “I guess that’s it.” I’ll take this energy and make breakfast. I’ll write something down. I’ll drink coffee black as the receding nighttime and maybe crack my book. I can dream with my eyes open. I’m not asleep, and there’s a war to win.

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~ by A Mundi on October 12, 2009.

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