I am not sure if I have mentioned this before because sometimes I don’t like admitting stuff like this (even to myself) but for the last 2 years or so I have been going through a bit of an identity crisis, again… MS is continuously changing my life and every time I have a major relapse and I am left living with a “new normal”, I have to learn how to come to terms with the changes MS left me with as well how to adapt to them. Several times in my life with this disease, I have felt lost regarding my identity; who I am and what my roll in this life is. For example, I thought I was going to be a photographer. Photography was my thing. I did some work (like weddings), studied it every day, and even took a class on it. But after MS did some more damage that seemed to have stuck, I slowly lost interest and gave up that idea. All of a sudden I was not “Matt the photographer” so I did not know who I was besides “Matt the guy with MS”. So I focused on writing but with more time and more “permanent disability” it became less enjoyable especially when I was not sure what my “ultimate goal” was. It was really hard to not think “what is the point of this? What difference can I even make?”
Lately I have started to FEEL like I am figuring that out. I KNOW what I have done and what I continue to do in the MS community but I am talking about what I FEEL I am doing, what I FEEL my roll is. So in the last couple months (despite me making some good progress in life) I seem to have developed a bit of an anxiety issue. I don’t really understand why, in fact, at first? I didn’t even know what it was that I was feeling but it was getting more severe and I also had several episodes where it just got way out of control. One of the feelings I have been getting that is probably the easiest to describe is that feeling you get when you are being timed on a task and the clock that is counting down reaches “10 seconds left” and the numbers on the clock turn red and start beeping as you get closer to “0”. That panicky feeling of running out of time. I don’t have any sort of deadline to worry about and I am not being timed for anything but I just have that feeling of “I am running out of time”. That panicky “Oh my god, hurry up” feeling. That feeling is alongside many other negative feelings and is manifesting in habits that are embarrassingly visible like compulsive fingernail biting (to the point that they are so short simply touching something hurts) or just being overall fidgety.
Between the identity thing and the weird anxiety issue, life was right at the edge of “I can’t handle this on my own” despite my trying but lately I have been dealing with a lot of stress and then (in the last few weeks) I have not been sleeping, as in, maybe 1-2 hours a night even on a bunch of medication. So that was causing me even more stress which was then making all my mental/emotional issues even worse and now I have DEFINITELY crossed over to the “I can’t handle this on my own” category. Not only do I think that “I should be medicated” but I have finally accepted that I need to start seeing a therapist. That I need help. Man I hate saying that haha… I am certain that I never properly processed/handled any of the MS stuff in my life on top of my own personal issues but instead I just kind of swept them under the rug; bottled it all up and put a nice smile on, a mask.
So I am going to try to make some calls today and figure who I can see for all the various health issues I have been collecting and start asking around about a good therapist that deals with people who have a chronic disease. Maybe call my local Multiple Sclerosis Society chapter? I see my neurologist in a couple weeks and he seems to know SOMEONE who works specifically with EVERY kind of issue I have ever talked to him about so worst case I am sure he can refer me to someone. I don’t know how he keeps track of all the cards he has but yeah, everyone he has ever sent me to is great.
Now regarding sleep, that is something within my realm of “what I can handle”, well, mostly. My myoclonic reaction to sound (loud and sudden sounds would make me violently jump/jerk) had got way better for a while, I stopped taking medication for it and everything! So I could deal with it just fine but lately it has come back with a vengeance and now that I live in a room with someone above me every “thud” shocks me awake at night (while I am trying to sleep my brother is just waking up because he is about to start an overnight shift) and then because of this anxiety thing I have developed I can’t even fall asleep because I feel so paranoid, paranoid that as soon as I try to breathe out a loud sound will come out of nowhere causing me to feel like someone dropped a bowling ball on my sternum while I am also being struck by lightning. Or imagine this, imagine trying to sleep knowing that at some random time someone is going to smack you in the face. Could be in an hour or could be in a minute. I feel so tense. It makes it a little hard to sleep especially when you have been battling insomnia for years.
Medication you say? I have been taking more prescription and over-the-counter meds each night than any healthy person should ever take or any medical professional would recommend but even then I just can’t fall asleep! I would just feel terrible all night! So I had started sleeping on the couch to see if that would help but that hardly helped especially when people are coming downstairs to eat. Earplugs didn’t do it either because all they did was block out the ambient noise but the sudden loud thuds? They would still make it through. Now I had bought some noise canceling headphones online right after we moved but after they were delivered I realized that I had never updated my address on eBay! So they had shipped to the wrong address and were marked as “in mailbox” which was one of those community mailboxes that locked so I had no way to just stop by and grab it. I called the post office and they were able to go back and pick them up and then forward them but… well it has been a nightmare. Let’s just say they were marked as “re-delivered” but never came… so not only was that $100 down the drain but my main hope of getting sleep was gone too! I was planning to wear earplugs with those headphones over them on full blast so that they would drown out any noise at night while not sounding super loud to me because of the earplugs. Like how they do in an MRI machine.
But yesterday I finally decided to dip back into my savings and buy more regular earplugs and a basic $30 pair of over the ear headphones to use in combination. Not great but way better than nothing. I also had thought about those earplugs people use at the shooting range. If they could help with gun shots then they should be able to take care of sudden thuds at night right? Well they are awesome but they have a tiny piece of plastic that sticks out so I can’t fit my headphones over them and using the alone? Well, they make things so silent I would not be able to sleep because of my racing thoughts! I need white noise. But the regular earplugs with the headphones over them seemed to work ok last night. I did take Temazepam as well which I need to stop because I have definitely developed a bit of a dependence on them… I used to use cannabis oil to help me sleep but because it is mostly THC it is really not good for my anxiety as it can make people feel paranoid and though it never did for me it does seem to make my anxiety issues worse as I discovered the other night while I was tensely staring at the ceiling… So I might have to look into some other marijuana products but I am not sure when because I have spent way too much money lately! All I know is that I can’t tackle the other problems in my life if I can’t get any sleep so this has definitely taken priority over everything.