I pulled myself off the floor with the familiar smell of Strawberry Nesquik waifing around me. I closed the refrigerator door and began to slowly pick glass off my pajamas. After a while, the cries of my daughter who stood mere feet away from me began to register. What happened? Why was I passed out and basically inside of my refrigerator?
Suddenly I remembered; I was on a four day bender. Partying? Nope. Drugs? Nada. Then what you may ask? I was on day four of my insomnia slump; four days of virtually no sleep. A simple trip to the fridge to get a bottle for my daughter and my body had given up; it was tired...and so was my mind.
As I travel this journey through my own mental health after my fairly recent bipolar disorder II diagnosis, I have discovered now more than ever the importance of adequate sleep on my body, and thus my mental health. My work ethic was molded via years in the music industry where “all nighters” are common place. Where it’s not unheard of to have a conference call at 12 midnight while the rest of your household is tucked away in slumber. I believed then, and until fairly recently, that my ability to stay up all night “getting it in,” cranking out proposals and press releases, was in some way directly related to my worth. That it obviously was proof that I was a hard worker. I use to find self-acceptance in pushing the limits of my body. Staying up all night, working all day. After three children, it was even more important for me to keep up with my peers, so sleep became a bargain. If I did A before B, time I would allow myself to get some sleep.
Then the breakdown happened. Hypomania brought on hours of manic highs, followed by the lowest lows.
I learned that many people that are bipolar can often go days without sleep when they are on a “high,” but when the high is over...the crash is devastating. Mental health is bigger than a mere antonym of mental illness. We all strive to be mentally and emotionally healthy. Many times the rigors of life makes the biological necessity of things as simple as sleep to become a luxury.
I have learned a few tricks of the trade to help make adequate sleep a reality and though my lifestyle make some of these a dream (ha! see what I did there) I have begun to incorporate some of these tactics into my everyday life and have seen some immediate effects. Here are my top 10 tips: