Years Later - The Lightbulb Comes On

I am a 35-year-old female social worker and college instructor. This is a long story but I would really appreciate if some of you would take the time to read it and weigh in on your advice. I have no where else to look.

I have struggled with Bipolar affective disorder, mild-OCD and anxiety disorder since my teen years. My panic attacks used to be the run-of-the-mill breathing/heart racing/breathe into a paper bag type. I had anti-anxiety meds and thought I had this thing under control.

Then a severe car accident in 2008 triggered PTSD and heightened my OCD symptoms. The pain from the car accident would trigger anger in me and that was not a usual feeling for me. I'm not an angry person - even though I had lots of reasons to be :-). This then led to some really gnarly sleep problems. I was swinging between extreme daytime sleepiness and night time insomnia. The neurologist did sleep studies, MRI tests and other assessments. He diagnosed me with "Narcoleptic-type sleep disorder" but stated that I was not "severe enough to warrant medications. Just take extra naps and drink caffeine to stay awake during the day". WOW! Who wouldn't like THAT prescription? This caffeine-aholic was in 7th heaven.

Unfortunately, the extra cup of coffee a day became triple shots and the one red bull became 3. The naps went from 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours to 2 2-hour naps a day (felt more like passing out because I couldn't move). In 2011 I went to a psychiatrist because I thought I was hallucinating. I would wake in the middle of the night and "see" things in my room, talk but I couldn't move. This conscious state while in sleep paralysis freaked me out. The doctor gave me ambien to keep me asleep and explained that the symptoms were part of being sleep deprived. She and I still did not put 2 and 2 together.

I was still "okay" until about 3 months ago. My career reached a stand still and with the economy as it is, my company had to restructure. One of my main anxiety triggers is money worries (I grew up in a low-income family and was always worried that I would go back and not be able to make it like my mom did - she was AWESOME!). So, with the money situation, and the pain from the car accident, I was in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and anger. The day time sleepiness became scary in September of 2012. I was driving and realized my body had gone completely limp one exit and two residential streets away from my office. My right eye was drooping, my head lolled back and I had to clutch the steering wheel so my hands wouldn't drop. I don't remember how I got off the highway and through the residential streets but two hours later, I found myself in my company parking lot, car was in park, still running and I had passed out. No one even realized I was there. I could have killed someone or myself. I think that scared me most of all.

I scaled back on work, and started working with my doctor to find treatment options that would help. We settled on adderall but the XR capsule was too strong for me and it aggravated my OCD, so I got back off. Bad move. Sleep attacks made me all but non-functional and there was no way I would be able to get anything done. Doctor prescribed regular adderall tablets that I could cut in half and only take on "sleep-fit" days.

Before I could get a refill of my adderall today, I had a bad pain night last night. I couldn't sleep because my back, hip and neck was spasming (left over from the car accident). I was being hard-headed and refused to take either my pain meds or my ambien. Well, next thing I knew, I got up because I felt that I needed to use the rest room at about 1am. I woke up 30 minutes later flat on my face on the bathroom floor with a busted nose, right eye, and front teeth and lip. I banged up my hand too. I screamed for my husband and he came running. Until then, my disorders have been "my business". He wouldn't get in my way but he just trusted that I had this all figured out and left me alone. Well, we both came to the freaky realization that I sure did not.

I'm in so much pain and am too scared to go to work today. I don't know what I'm going to do. The cataplexy is getting worse and I have come to realize that my triggers are pain, anxiety and anger. I'm perfectly fine when I laugh (thank goodness because I love to laugh). However, I still feel out of control and don't know what to do. I know this was a long story but this is my first attempt at reaching out to a support group and after reading some of your stories, I can see I am in good company. I would really love some input. I have no one else around that even remotely understands any of this.
cluelessfor35years cluelessfor35years
Nov 29, 2012