BY: Marc McMahon
Being me this past week has been a very sobering experience, no pun intended. I started in on my second week, of my second term in college, and went back to work for the beginning of my second week, since summer break has ended. A much welcome change to my schedule that was beginning to enter the realm of completely boring, the last couple weeks of summer break.
Knowing that I was going to be pushed to my mental limit by the classes I was taking this term, one of them being Psychopharmacology. I tried to brainstorm ideas as to how I could be as efficient of a student as possible this term. And maintain my responsibilities to my work study job I received through financial aid.
The only weak area in my offensive strategy was the fact that since I have entered the realm of substance-free six months ago, I really do not sleep much. To be honest with you the term “much” is quite an overstatement. I sleep roughly 3-4 hours a night but not at one-time mind you.
I will lay down for bed at 9p.m. and wake up at 11 p.m. wide awake and from such a deep sleep that I feel surely, it must be four or five in the morning and time to start my day. When I reach over to check the time on my cell phone and notice it is not even midnight, I get the most frustrated feeling in the pit of my stomach. Almost always, followed by me saying out loud “are you serious!”
So I roll back over determined to try and sleep some more, defiant of my bodies new internal alarm clock, and set out to show it I am the one in charge here. Then after another very deep session of sleep I again wake up, always thinking surely, this time, it has to be almost 5 a.m. and time to start my day. Wrong!
It usually has been only an hour to hour and a half and that same frustrated feeling like I just got kicked in the stomach sets in. This time, though, I am wide awake for real, and there is no going back to sleep.
The scoreboard now reads; internal alarm clock-1, Marc-0,
So my day on the average starts somewhere between 12:30 a.m. & 1:30 a.m, and does not end on a short day before six o’clock at night. Not necessarily the best schedule for a recovering drug addict with only six months clean to have. Considering he chose to go back to college after 30 years in that first six months too! Then add the 14 hours a week at the P.T. job on top of it. Again, something this recovering addict hadn’t done in many years because professional drug addicts don’t have time for menial tasks like work.
So what was I to do? How am I going to be able to get more sleep so I can be more attentive in class, efficient at work and not be struggling to maintain consciousness after I take my lunch break? Here comes brilliant idea # 1, the best remedy my six months clean and sober mind could come up with.
“I know Marc, yes I have got it! We go back to the doctor and get back on our psychiatric meds that we quit taking when we got clean because we didn’t like how they made us feel.” Brilliant I think to myself, I should have thought of this much sooner. Surely, anti-psychotic medications are exactly what you need in order to be able to sleep better and be a more efficient student and worker.
Holy smokes! Someone should have just committed me right there for even having those thoughts. Can you say, dumbass! It is amazing that I have even made it this far thinking like that. The thing is, I never even had to go see the doctor get my prescriptions filled for these drugs, merely a phone call away and presto, like magic, your scripts will be available for pickup at your pharmacy within four hours.
So on Sunday night I excitedly swallowed my large dose of Seroquel along with my mood stabilizing medication that makes me sleepy as hell and laid down for what is sure to be the best night of sleep I have had in the past six months. Again can you say, “dumbass.” Not sure what I was thinking, or maybe I was just so desperate for anything to help me sleep I never really cared to even think it all the way through.
All I know is that when I woke up the first time and looked at my clock and realized that it still only said 11 p.m. I was nowhere near wide awake. So frustrated, as usual, just to damn sedated to really give a rip. I collapsed back into my bed for what would surely be a full night sleep, and guess what?
Yeppers, 12:47 a.m rolls around and I am awake, wide awake! But this time, I do not at all feel completely rested and excited about going to put on my first pot of coffee and chain smoke several cigarettes in a row. No, I feel like a heavy fog has settled in my mind, completely out of touch with myself. And begin to desperately search inside of me to find the Marc that I have come to know and love this past six months.
I went from not sleeping much but being wide awake and who I really am in the early mornings. To overnight, not sleeping much and waking up wondering where the hell has Marc gone. I was lost this early Monday morning and it scared the living shit out of me to be quite honest with you all.
Needless to say, I never went to school Monday, I did not go to school on Tuesday, I literally slept the better part of 48 hours in 2-hour intervals because I could not stand to be awake and feel the uncomfortable feelings that the effects of those drugs were causing me to feel. Come yesterday, Wednesday, I finally was able to locate enough of the real me that I felt comfortable enough in my own skin to go to school and attend the one class I had in the afternoon, but I was far from alright.
Then today, the fourth day after I had taken three of my prescribed pills I felt almost like I was close to feeling normal again and ready for a twelve hour day of work and school. I was close but no cigar. I made it to my class at 8 a.m., but I barely made it through awake, I was there but not really. I took an entire page of notes from the two-hour lecture but looking at them this evening it looks like I wrote them using hieroglyphics.
I made it through, and half awake after class I proceeded to catch the bus to work. By the time I got downtown and still had an hour before work started I realized no way. There is no way I am going to be able to go sit at my reception desk at the downtown college campus and be able to be focused, alert and represent the college but most importantly myself, in a competent professional manner. So I phoned in with the flu and returned home about noon.
Exhausted still, I threw off my backpack and crawled into bed. I was not at all happy with myself, and my mind was toying with the idea of simply saying fuck it, I definitely have a reason to feel depressed for awhile over this. I never let those thoughts manifest themselves into actions mind you, but it was a battle in my mind today when I laid down for my nap never the less.
I slept three two-hour sessions this afternoon. Each time waking up getting a cup of coffee hoping this was the moment when all of Marc had returned and I could get back to feeling whole, complete and grounded again. All those feelings that I had fought so damn hard to acquire over this past six months. But had been temporarily stripped of these past four days, by three seemingly innocent pills that were legally prescribed by my physician.
I laid down to nap at noon today and at 7:09 p.m. I woke up feeling normal again. Ninety-three hours after I had innocently taken my prescribed medication in a desperate attempt to try and sleep like a normal human being and create a better, more productive version of myself.
Moral to my story; I am clean and sober, free of all mind and mood altering chemicals, just the way God created me to be, sleep or no sleep. The very best version of myself that I can be, period! I was “fearfully and wonderfully made” and for a reason and a purpose. The only enhancements I need are those that are bestowed upon me from hands of my creator and given to me in the form of spiritual gifts.
There is nothing this side of heaven that can make me any better than I have already been created to be. That is the most beautiful thing I have taken from this experience. I am under the guidance and care of the best physician in the universe. No man-made substance can make me be any better than that, never.
I hate drugs, I do not care if they are illegal or prescribed, they have no place in me for the most part. At least not mind and mood altering drugs like the ones my doctors dolled out to me, no way. I will sleep just as much as my Father chooses to allow me to sleep at this time in my life and whether I like it, or think that is sufficient, I will be o.k. with it.
Because my Father knows best!
Be blessed you all!