Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moving Forward

Not sure it's best for me to blog after taking my Ambien. I written a little bit about the insomnia and depression with whom I've been coexisting. The biggest part of my moving on has been in using these prescriptions which I very badly needed. I got a therapist.I got a part-time job. I think my head will eventually get out of the clouds enough to come down to earth to finish writing my thesis. Booker is taking a kickboxing class for fun, so now we both have the energy to deal with the house issues before we try to sell it. We're in a pattern now where everything i contigenet on everything else, so it's hard to move ahead. When the insomnia was bad, I was only getting ~3 hours a night. I honestly thoutht I was losing my mind. I couldn't think, stuttered halfway through sentences, and constantly felt like I was on a roller coaster. It was that dippy fluttery feeling in your stomach, all day and all night over and over again. Both being able to sleep and feeling calm and confident during the day has put me right again. The porfessional progress is still slow, but I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009



MJ Palmer @ The Bottom Liner

Hope it actually added! Having technical difficulties.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I've updated my blogroll, which I hope to do periodically from now on. I read so many interesting blogs that are just not (yet) reflected for my, oh, 3-4 readers of this blog:) I've added:

Aunt Becky @ Mommy Wants Vodka
Clarissa @ Tales of a Conservationist
post-doc @ Minor Revisions
dreamsintodeeds @ Turning Dreams Into Deeds
Janus Professor @ Janus Professor, My Travels in a Two-Body Life

Monday, May 18, 2009


Booker has just mocked his pseudonym, thusly earning an arm hair pull. He doesn't read this so I don't know why he cares.

Insomnia is Crazy-Making.

(Photo from

I've had problems with insomnia for the past 5 years or so. It seems to go in cycles, which have been running closer together, and for longer periods. It became unbearable this past winter, but I think I now have it under control. I still don't know what causes it, although I can eliminate an immune response to gluten. I know that it is in part anxiety-driven, but not completely. The insomnia is on 2 levels- the first, that it takes forever to fall asleep, the second, that I don't stay asleep. once awake, my mind starts spinning. At its worst, I was getting 3 hours at night and unable to nap during the day. I know a lot of people struggle with insomnia, so the point of this post is to let you what I've tried- I for one am always looking for new things to try to get some rest.
Caveat: these are suggestions only! I'm not a doctor, etc etc.

- Bed Time routine- I kind of wanted to hit the people who suggested that. Really? Can you tell me which way my underwear faces, because without you I can't function! So yeah, I have a routine of turning lights off, reading magazines, no phone calls or computer, and calming down in general.

- Benadryl, Tylenol PM, etc- Don't make me laugh. These may have worked 5 years ago when this started, but they have no effect now. I've read that a tolerance can develop quickly, and they are not meant for long-term use anyway.

- Valerian Root- doesn't work for me, but I know people who swear by it.

- Catnip tea- doesn't work for me.

- Chamomile tea, SleepyTime tea- no dice.

- Melatonin- doesn't work (for me), and it's not great to take for anything more than an occasional night. I've read that it can cause a feedback loop wherein your body produces less; what you want is for your body to produce melatonin to regulate your circadian rhythm.

- Magnesium- the theory is that you need adequate magnesium to absorb calcium. It didn't make me feel sleepy, but it did relax me which is still helpful.

- Sunlamp- my husband has a therapeutic sunlamp. You're supposed to sit in front of it for at least 15 minutes in the morning; it triggers melatonin production. I don't know about sleepiness, but it did make me feel a lot more energetic first thing in the morning.

- Brain waves- Booker has some CD's that you are supposed to listen to with headphones. They re-set your brain waves for relaxation, concentration, sleepiness. They made me noticeably more relaxed, but at its worst sleep was still elusive.

- Tryptophan supplements- the amino acid in your Thanksgiving turkey makes you sleepy. It actually helped once in a while.

Ok, time to get serious. I saw the doc for:
- Trazadone. I took this for over a year, during Booker's deployment. It worked, until it didn't. I went off and was sleeping okay- not great, but sleeping- until a new insomnia cycle started this January.

- Seroquel- I only took this for 2 weeks. It knocked me out but I didn't like the way it made me feel.

- Gluten intolerance- got a blood test to check for an immune response, which I don't seem to have. Have not yet investigated any other food sensitivities.

- Ambien CR- worked great the first week. Then not so well, then not hardly but still better than taking nothing. It had only been a month when I called about switching. The nurse told me that it is the strongest thing on the market, so if Ambien doesn't work, nothing will. Cheery.

- Sleep study- Apparently I have mild sleep apnea, but not enough episodes to warrant the mask. Doc told me to sleep on my side, which is something I intuitively do anyway. Nothing else was really revealed. When I asked him what I could do to sleep, he told me to keep taking the Ambien CR and to have a bedtime routine (see the first bullet.) Seriously dude? This was after I waited 2 hours in an empty waiting room, because "the doctor isn't in today, but he's on his way in now." Um, I drove an hour and a half to be here for a 1:30 appointment, for which you did not have the courtesy to consider until I've been here 2 hours?

This last insomnia cycle took about 4 months to get stabilized. I am still deeply interested in finding out what causes it- if it's anxiety-based (I believe in part, but not entirely), if it's partly physiological (not confident I got rid of the tapeworm, maybe food sensitivities?), or what. But for now:

- I take an anti-anxiety medication in the morning. This issue is both separate from and part of the insomnia. It helps, to an amazing degree.

- I take Ambien CR at night. It seems to work better now that I'm taking the other med. I still wake up a lot at night, but now I am able to fall back asleep whereas before I'd just spin my wheels. For hours.

- Climbing out of the hole means I have the energy and drive to take on positive habits that had fallen by the wayside. Exercise, cleaning the house so it's not a pit, taking general better care of myself so I have pride in my appearance, cooking meals for us, hanging out with people for fun, etc etc. All of these go into sleeping better at night, and I was not capable of any of them until I could even things out a bit.

- No alcohol, at all, ever. I don't metabolize it very well on a good day. It actually makes the insomnia worse- something about the sugar or preservatives. Now that I have some prescriptions I just don't want to mess with it at all.

- Continue to limit caffeine, which I have done from Day 1. Unfortunately it is a vicious cycle- the less you sleep, the more you need something to face your day.

If you have insomnia, I feel your pain. Maybe something I have tried might work for you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On the Rejection letter

Of all the snippets I've heard in the past year of this person and that person applying to a PhD program, virtually no one has been accepted. The only success story I've heard recently is a friend getting into vet school. At least there's some solidarity but man, it's a bad year. Does anyone see any evidence that 2010 will improve, in terms of funding in academia?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


- I do not blog enough. I will now blog more.
- I agreed to a petition-gathering project. I wish I had not. Soliciting, even for cause I believe in, is sooo not my thing. And this project has a quota. My town is dead right now, and I have major doubts about being able to gather signatures.
- I am going to my girlfriends wedding (Hi AJH!) in Boston in less than 2 weeks! I am so excited! 1), She and her fiance have been through the fire together. I know that she is committing to someone who can really be a rock for her. And vice versa. 2), I am in dire need of some girlfriend time. I have girlfriends in Grad School Town, but somehow all we ever talk about is research and academia. I am looking forward to going out on the town in Boston.