A week or two ago I found myself faced with with a rather serious question; had I become addicted to Ambien?
I first started taking the sleep aid when I started taking Geodon several months ago, the Geodon often left me energetic and even manic, to the point where sleep by natural means seemed impossible. After countless nights laying awake for hours as my mind raced and I flopped around I gave in, taking 5 mg of Ambien each night thereafter to knock me out, usually in 60 minutes or less.
Ambien does come with a warning, and my doctor did say not to take it every night or else there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I stopped taking it.
Even so, I tried alternating nights, taking it one night and attempting to skip it the next, only to find myself lying awake for hours (thanks to the Geodon). Once I became frustrated, I would give up, storming into the bathroom and taking the Ambien I had tried to skip taking. And so the cycle continued.
Then the time came when Corey was gone. And, though I am a little ashamed to admit it, my mood somehow twisted Ambien into something that would alleviate my sorrows. If I’m not awake, how can I keep feeling miserable? Suddenly I wanted to take it all the time to escape the pain I was in… and that was the time I had to look at taking Ambien and say,
Woah. Ok, clearly I should not be taking this.
I don’t know how things progressed, transforming from a simple sleep aid to a drug but it was time that it stopped.
I took an antidepressant once that not only flung me into mania, it also gave me withdrawals at the hospital, leaving me feeling the worst I ever have in my entire life. Before that I didn’t know medications could hold such a strong sway over someone’s body, and I’ve been terrified ever since that it could happen again.
After a couple months of taking Ambien almost every night, I was mortified. How horrible was stopping going to feel? Would I ever sleep again? Would I ultimately have to trade one sleep aid for another with my doctor? I simply didn’t feel like I could go back to staying awake for hours at a time each night, alone, with nothing to do but feel crummy.
But I gave it a try.
The first night I stayed awake 3 hours after getting in bed, but the second night I only stayed awake for one. By the third night I fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow, without a sleep aid at all.
It wasn’t that bad. Not really a big deal, it turns out, but I had become so dependent on being able to sleep whenever I wanted (or needed) to escape that it was my expectations that needed the makeover, not my ability to sleep apparently.
I don’t like the idea of being addicted to anything, and I’m glad I had the guts to break the cycle a little bit. As it turns out, I can sleep just fine on my own now (at least until the next manic period) and being able to do so without the aid of a medication makes me feel stronger, less hesitant, and afraid. You can believe that when a sleepless night comes I will still take an ambien here or there, but I do it with the knowledge that I’m doing it because I choose to, not because I feel like I have to.