If you’ve been to see a physician regarding any kind of mental health concern, one of the first things that he/she will ask you is how you’ve been sleeping. Sleep is an absolutely integral part of our general health and specifically to our mental health.
As you are aware by reading this blog, I am diagnosed as being bipolar, which means that I have to pay special attention to how much sleep I get.. and more importantly, when I am not sleeping.
As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I have spent the better part of the last decade in bed. That isn’t to say that I spent that time sleeping. Quite the contrary. I have spent endless hours writing in my journal and I’ve watched more television than I’d care to admit.
When I did finally get some sleep, it was almost exclusively during the daylight hours. Sometimes I would go for weeks without seeing the light of day. It can be a terrible cycle that is almost impossible to break once it has taken hold.
The only effective way that I was ever able to come out of the curse of the “night life” was to forgo sleep for at least a 24 hour period, so that I may reset my schedule. Sounds a little crazy, but a little coffee will get you there.
These days, I am happy to say that I am in the land of the living and wandering beneath the sun. It feels to good to feel like I am part of the world again.
Then why am I writing this at 4:56am after not having slept? And this isn’t the first time recent weeks that this has happened. I am always very honest with my doctor and so I have told him that my sleeping schedule has veered off track a few times. He doesn’t seem especially concerned, as there are no other mitigating factors that would lead anyone to believe that it could be mania, which lack of sleep can sometimes imply.
Rather, I have told him that I feel that I miss my nights. After so many years of having developed a schedule that permits so much time spent in the solitude of darkness, I really do crave them every once and again. I don’t see the harm in indulging when I do feel the urge to experience the night, as long as I am not falling off the daytime wagon.
So far, so good.
And so what is my message to you? I happen to know that if you deal with any kind of mental illness you almost certainly will experience troubles with your sleep. What other patterns do you fall into with your illness? We all know that there is a healthier way of doing things, but after so long of existing a certain way, it can be exceedingly difficult to flip things around. Do we really want change?
As I said, for me, I am happy that things are typically different in my day-to-day, but I can also tell that, like tonight, there will be times when I go back to indulge in what some might consider to be “unhealthy” habits.. as long as this does not include drugs, alcohol, or smoking, then I think I am in pretty good standing.
Please comment below if you experience “unhealthy” habits in your life. Have you thought of ways that you might combat these habits? Do you even want to? If you do want to make change, I recommend baby steps. You aren’t going to change the world overnight. Also, be prepared to slip every now and again. You aren’t perfect now and you won’t be perfect later, so it’s okay to make mistakes.