My body is telling me to drop out of school. It is tired. It needs sleep. I don’t get sleep when I go to school.
I’ve always had weird sleeping problems. I can’t fall asleep. When I do fall asleep, I’m only half-asleep. When I wake up, I feel like I never slept. In fact, I felt more rested before I went to sleep than I do when I wake up. It’s always been like this, to some degree. But it’s gotten worse with time.
I think it’s my anxiety. I was talking with a friend (I’d like to call her a friend, so I’m going to do so) and classmate today about what stress can do to a body. My anxiety has been poorly managed for…how old am I?…21-7=…14 years, but it’s been especially disastrous throughout my collegiate experience. Oh, the school part of college rocks. It’s my sanctuary. Where I’m in my element. Et cetera. It’s the part where I’m no longer involved in newspaper/band/theatre/volunteering/church…also known as the part where my anxiety is no longer sublimating into being involved in EVERYTHING. And something about six years of 4-hour-a-night sleeping habits that caught up with me, and demanded I start sleeping at precisely the time when people stop sleeping: college.
Not sleeping does terrible things to your brain. Especially when your brain is already messed up.
When I was 7, my hair was falling out in massive chunks. I’m talking about adult-sized fistfuls, each time my mom would comb it. I had very thin, slow-growing hair to begin with, so we were worried. Went to a dermatologist. Had some blood work done to check my thyroid, which came back as negative for any abnormalities. (A foreshadowing of every other blood test for the rest of my life, apparently.) And in the same nonchalant, self-assured manner as every other physician I’ve seen in this lovely state, the dermatologist said, “Hm. Well. It’s probably just stress. Have a nice life.” “Um, she’s 7. What could she possibly be stressed about?” was my mother’s annoyed reply.
Precursor to the rest of my life. Things are wrong with my body, but we can’t figure out why. It probably is a result of stress. Untreated anxiety disorders galore.
But it’s SO DIFFICULT to find good help for anxiety, or depression, or PTSD resulting from something other than military service. And if good help is to be had, it is expensive. Can I afford expensive? Of course not. And I’m not interested in playing musical therapists until I find a good “fit” if I’m going to have to pay out the nose the entire time.
I went to the doctor in January of last year, complaining about migraines and sleep issues and an average of 16 panic attacks a week and suicidal thoughts. So. Like my life now, without the inexplicable, debilitating pain. Doctor thought that seizure medication would be a good solution. I’ve never had a seizure. I haven’t been to see her since.
My current primary physician doesn’t believe in prescribing me anything. Of all my visits to the doctor since November, four of them were made specifically because I was in excruciating amounts of pain and I didn’t know what to do. I go to the doctor and we discuss why this may be the case. RA or Lupus — the ultimate in masochism is an autoimmune disease. MS — I’m a high-risk candidate. Fibromyalgia — that label they assign you when they don’t know what the hell the problem is. Each time, I’m told to take some ibuprofen and come back in a few weeks.
When my face froze, the hospital gave me some Lortab for the pain I was experiencing, in the hopes that lowering my pain would help me sleep. A double dose succeeded in barely taking off the edge of the pain I was in. I was high as a friggin kite (opioid highs are the best highs) but I wasn’t free from pain.
I stopped taking ibuprofen because I was beginning to be concerned about how my anxiety and my college-student diet and my ibuprofen use were affecting my stomach lining.
I don’t sleep because I’m in pain. And when I’m not in pain, I barely sleep. So my body is telling me to drop out of school.
One year from now, I’ll be in my final baccalaureate semester. Hooray! And then I’ll have a whole year of being able to sleep. And getting my anxiety under control. And then it’s back to school. For another 5…7…10 years of intense course load and little sleeping.
So, hush, body. You present a convincing argument, but I won’t be persuaded. Be nice to me, help me make it through one more year, and then we’ll go on an extended north pole vacation. You know. Where it’s dark for 18 hours a day.
Totally conducive to sleeping.