Jan 2012

My Non-Sleep Sleep Week

Sometimes I forget I have a sleep disorder. Because, so long ago, we mostly fixed it.

It used to be, I would wake up screaming, flailing, punching, crying – and swearing there were people in the room attacking me. About three times a week. For years and year and years. For so long I didn’t realize how unnormal it all was.

Then I got tired of hurting my husband, tired of feeling terrible, tired of fearing bedtime – just plain tired.

So, I had a therapy, a sleep study, was diagnosed with “arousal disorder” – I still giggle when I say that – and started taking large doses of crazy meds.

That was five years ago.

I have had three night terrors since.

This week has been bad at bedtime. No major night terrors, but I’ve been… off. Sleep has been almost muffled. I woke up last night (early this morning?) around 4am and I had no idea where I was. I could feel the fear there, almost creeping around the back of my skull, but I also knew I was OK. Like five years of not screaming myself awake had conditioned me to try and figure things out before jumping off the diving board into that icy pool of hysteria.

I sat up in bed and looked around in the black, trying to remember. I almost wasn’t even sure who I was, much less where I was, or when it was. As my eyes slowly adjusted, the breath I didn’t realize I was holding exhaled.

I was home. In my bed. With Bryan. Safe.

I fell back on my pillow and wondered what was going on. Sure, we have been stressed as ever, but nothing more than normal.

Then I realized what time of year it was.

Late January.

Which had always been the worst time for my night terrors. Always.

Something about the combination of light shifting to longer cycles plus the dreariness of winter had always made January a non-stop screamfest for me.

It was actually soothing to recognize this. This time of year. And the date.

January 26th.

Almost February.

Diving Board into Pool

Jul 2010

Flip The Hate

I tend to dream posts. No, seriously. During that twilight time in the morning when you’re half asleep, half awake? I start writing posts in my head. Mostly crap, but I get a general outline for what I want to say on any given day.

Today, I woke up mad, wanting to talk about two really horrible customer service experiences I had recently. Like, really really bad. I even was going to let you vote which one was worse. Ha. I got so ticked, I woke up enough to shuffle over to my office and groggily lay my hands on the keyboard.

And then I thought, why?

So you all could get pissed off too?

What good would it do any of us?

I am tired of being mad.

So, instead, I am going to remind you of some of the fantastic blogs I have on my bloglist, and encourage you to go check them out today. A flip the hate day. A share the love day.

Also, why don’t you suggest some new blogs I may be missing in that fine list?

Annissa & Peter Mayhew – Hope for Peyton

Lucrecer Braxton – Art Slam

Stephanie Wilder Taylor – Baby on Bored

Giyen Kim – Bacon Is My Enemy

JoAnn – The Casual Perfectionist

Sloane Berrent – The Causemopolitan

Deb Rox – Deb on the Rox

Helen Jane Hearn – Helen Jane.com

Laurie White – Laurie Writes

Kristin – Maine Momma

Cathy Holecko – Mayberry Mom

Maggie – Okay Fine Dammit

Jason Mayo – Outnumbered

Bill – Poop & Boogies

Rachel Devine – Sesame Ellis

Sizzle –
Sizzle Says

Tara Anderson – Tall Tara

Helen Dujardin – Tartelette

Shannon –
Whiskey In My Sippy Cup

OK. Whew. That’s it for now.
Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll get back to being a complete wench tomorrow.

Oct 2009

I Forgive Me Too.

Do you know GraceD? I have always loved her Twitter name because if you make the “D” lower case it’s “graced.”

Have you seen her Community Keynote presentation from BlogHer this year? Prepare to be emotionally humbled.

As for me, I was more like emotionally staggered.

The tears started burning in my eyes when she talked about hating May – June. See, until I gained a loving father-in-law and had a reason to celebrate Father’s Day, I had always circled around that particular holiday with my eyes narrowed, wondering what was so great about it anyway.

Why did I hate Father’s Day?

OK, deep breath. I am going to come out and say something I have only hinted at before on this blog.

I was sexually and emotionally abused by my father.

Here’s the rub, I don’t remember a lot of it because of a condition called disassociation. But I promise, there’s enough there to really mess a person up for pretty much the rest of her life. Even given the fact that my father died when I was 11, and I have, luckily, and thanks to a lot of hard work by my mom, lived a normal life since then.

Before then wasn’t so great for us.

All things considered, we limped out of there pretty OK.

Enter my night terrors. This I have talked about pretty frequently. But in a nutshell, I used to have huge, grandiose, screaming, flailing night terrors where I was a harm to both myself and my husband. I used to have these night terrors several times a week. I wasn’t sleeping. Bryan wasn’t sleeping. This had gone on for a decade.

I finally found a therapist several years ago because we were starting to sleep in separate beds. That may have worked for Lucy and Ricky, but not for us. I had found a wonderful man to spend my life with – and I wanted to, well, spend my life with him.

I assumed the night terrors were related to my dad, everything always was, right? So we talked. And talked and talked. And I felt better. I understood more. I forgave. Not my dad. ME. I listened to Grace before Grace even entered my life. My dad is still in purgatory with me, but at least I don’t hate him anymore. Hate wastes so much of your energy; I just was so tired of hating him.

My, the night terrors didn’t stop. So off I went for the weirdest night of my life, and finally turning to the crazy meds. In the three years since starting taking them – I have had TWO, count ’em TWO, full-blown night terrors. Compared to the several per week I used to have, I’ll take those odds and I will take my pills. We’re kicking post-traumatic stress in the ass.

As I watched Grace’s presentation, though, I was mezmerized. I ticked off on my hands all the things she mentioned that I struggle with. Towards the end, I was smiling through my tears, thinking, SHE GETS IT. She really understands.

And that’s why I decided to post today. To let Grace and other victims know I GET IT. I understand. I am here for you if you want to talk in the comments or privately (aimee at greeblemonkey dot com).

There is also an AMAZING site run by Maggie Dammit for victims of abuse called Violence Unsilenced for people to share their stories and be there for each other.

So, thank you Grace, and Maggie, and my therapist, and my family, and my friends and my amazing husband for helping me make the steps on this journey and feeling pretty OK at this end of it. THANK YOU.

Oct 2007

A Bundle of Major Diseases

I swear, if a bunch of doctors didn’t agree on all these diagnoses I would be willing to submit my photo for the definition of “hypochondriac” in the dictionary. I am gonna talk about another one of them right now, and it’s in the vaginal region – so, you boys have been warned.

But first, so you can understand the number of doctors I see and the number of medications I take, here is the rundown of my major medical maladies:

Night Terrors (none since last week, woo hoo!)
– Diabetes (P.S. November 14th is World Diabetes Day!)
Haller’s Cells (Still considering sinus surgery, but not really… as they would have to rip my face off and that does NOT sound fun. I mean, who wants to be John Travolta or Nicholas Cage in real life?)
– Acne (Somewhat related to the diabetes, and mainly, how else could I get all that Retin-A to keep my skin looking buff, yo?)
– And the subject of today’s post: Endometriosis/Really Sucky Periods.

So, it all started a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. My periods were so bad during high school that I was missing at least one day a month from school. And since that is totally unacceptable to the modern public school establishment, my mom zipped me down to the local Planned Parenthood and got me on the pill at age 16, before I had even been properly kissed. (Unless you count that awkward grazing of cheeks at age 12 when I was at sleepaway camp – which. I. don’t.)

The pill definitely helped. I was on it pretty much continuously until Bryan and I decided to have Declan in 2002. And after Declan, we thought long and hard and realized we were absolutely happy with our family of three. So, Bryan marched off to the docs and had the good old snip snip. Birth control, check!

But the bitch was back.

Bleeding that would make any anemic proud, cramps that seemed like labor (but I wouldn’t know), nausea, hormonal swings – every fucking month.

We tried the pills again, but they just did not agree with me. Not sure if it was all the other meds, my age, or if I had just gotten so used to the side effects from the birth control pills when I was young… but I was not willing to take that train this time around.

Meanwhile, my sister. My sister has had a really rough year with her uterus. Her endometriosis makes mine look like a Curious George trying to snuggle up with King Kong. And I am allowed to talk about it publicly because, 1. she is my sister, 2. she is becoming quite the advocate for endo patients, 3. she never reads my blog unless I write about her and 4. have I mentioned, she is my sister?

She is about to have her second surgery this year to scrape all this crap out of her, after her first doctor went in and freaked out over the tropical rainforest of endometriosis she had blooming all over her abdomen.

But, do you even know what endometriosis is? It’s seriously freaky, dude. Basically the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterus, anywhere it wants. And when your menstrual hormones kick in, that lining fluffs up with blood just like inside the uterus, and sloughs off just the same as inside the uterus… except all that shit inside your uterus HAS SOMEPLACE TO GO. The endometriosis is pretty much like internal bleeding, is really viscous, can make internal organs stick to each other, cause scarring … a ton of bad shit.

And guess what else? Endometriosis research and treatment is VASTLY underfunded in this country.


You know WHY?

(Excuse the feminist bent here)…


So, my sister struggled through nearly a year with a doctor who poo-pooed her symptoms. A doctor who didn’t listen to her. A doctor who finally agreed to perform surgery on her and shit his pants when he saw how loaded with endo she was. A doctor who only got a fraction of it out because he had other surgeries scheduled that afternoon and refused to bump them. A doctor that she has FINALLY kicked to the curb in favor of a doctor who called the emergency room TWICE to check up on her when she was there last week for severe dehydration, nausea and anemia due to her endometriosis. A doctor who knows his shit and is going in to get the rest of the evil out of her in December.

But she had to do her homework. Had to research and call and claw and fight to find the right doctor.

And that just sucks.

And this will be a lifelong battle for her, because endometriosis does not go away.

So, what about me? I had the Minera IUD put in on Friday. It hurt like fuck because she had to do it without my period (they like to do it when your cervix is open, and the beyotch couldn’t even give me that and has not arrived to this day) and I was a “virgin cervix” to boot since Declan was an emergency c-section. But supposedly this form of IUD is more localized and the hormones will help my less-dramatic symptoms without whacking me out system-wide like birth control pills do. We’ll leave it on for 3-6 months and just see.

Either way, seeing as Bryan has had a vasectomy, at least we know there is NO WAY IN HELL we’re getting pregnant any time soon.

Shall we add a condom too and make it the holy trinity of birth control?

Oct 2007

Hard Day’s Night

Well, it was bound to happen. I finally had a full-blown night terror last night.

But, I am not all that upset about it seeing as it’s my first major one in nearly a year of being on medication.

For those who don’t know my history and can’t sort through my archives (yes, everyone tells me they are a royal pain, I’m working on it!), here it is in a nutshell:

I had a rocky childhood with an alcoholic father, I started repressing memories (called dissociation), it carried on into adulthood, at some point I started having night terrors (ten times worse than any nightmare you have ever had, including seeing things in the room and punching Bryan) and I went through 10 years worth of insomnia because I was afraid to go to sleep. And I gave Bryan insomnia because I would scream my head off in the dead of the night.

I had a sleep study, was diagnosed with arousal disorder, tried various crazy meds, and last Thanksgiving, hit on a combo that worked for me.

I went from 3 night terrors per week… to virtually none.

Since then, it’s been a process of uncovering memories from childhood that had been buried so deep I can’t tell if they are real or not anymore, but my therapist promises me it doesn’t matter – I just need to let my brain process them and file them in the right place… finally.

I actually remember my night terror from last night (generally you are so deep in stage 4 sleep that you don’t know that the fuck is going on)… but last night was FUN! Blood was dripping from the ceiling on me. Then I held up the blanket to shield me and the blood burned right through it. In separate tiny little holes, and they flamed up like lava. Evil and menacing.

When I came to, I was frozen in fear and near hyperventilation. It took a long time to calm down and I ended up just getting up way early this morning because I just couldn’t sleep again. (Those of you who got daybreak emails from me now know what I was doing!)

It’s amazing how quickly all the feelings rush back – how I used to be almost every single night. Terrified of what I was dreaming, terrified that I was waking the household up, terrified of what I was uncovering in my head. Just plain terrified.

And I’m so damn lucky that I have had the last year of peace.