The nightmare that is insomnia

Why is it that doctors don’t take insomnia seriously? We have billions of dollars being pumped into developing ‘new’ (as in, same formula, minor tweak = worse side effects) psychoactive meds for depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, and rampant off label prescribing (anti-consultants for depression, are you kidding me?), but none of the pharma companies have come up with a pill for insomnia that doesn’t cause addiction in record time. To GPs, insomnia is trivial. It is either short term or associated with a ‘medical’ disorder, particularly ‘depression’ or pain, or it’s because you’re getting older. Whichever one it is, it isn’t a big deal or it’s a symptom of something ‘much worse’ or because you’re a granny. Long term insomnia, apparently, doesn’t exist.

Here’s some news for you, doc. Long term insomnia is real, it can be the only ‘symptom’ you have, you can have it when you’re young, and it is AWFUL!

What is the GPs answer to insomnia? Don’t drink caffeine before going to bed….do something relaxing before bed…..go to bed and get up at the same time every day…..don’t sleep in on days off….have you tried doing those thing?? Do I have a feckin’ dunces cap on my head? Of course I’ve bloody done them! Take a look at http://www.patient.co.uk website for their ‘tips’ on curing insomnia….insomniacs all over the UK are tearing strips off their lavender scented pillows in response.

I have had insomnia for nigh on 10 years. It gets worse with every year that passes. Your memory starts to be affected, your attention span shrinks, you become short on patience and irritable (hence the blog), you lose interest in things, you stop socialising, and it can make you both a zombie and hyperactive. And, even if it didn’t do any of these things, have I said how AWFUL it is?

It’s like there is a little biological switch in the brain and I can never get it to flip into the off position. Now, I never subscribe to biological explanations, so that’s how desperate I am. Is it so hard for GPs to accept long term insomnia at face value and do something productive about it? You basically have to nag them for years before they’ll even entertain the idea of giving you one of those Z class drugs….but only for a week…..we don’t want to get addicted, now, do we, and, oh, the insomnia will pass, it’s a short term thing…..of course, before you even get close to Z class drugs, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a course in CBT. Now, if my reason for not sleeping was because I have thoughts going round in my head then, fine. But it isn’t. If, GP, you knew me well, you would know that I have a very empty head. I would need to have a thought in the first place for it to go round and round.

And, have I said how AWFUL insomnia is?

If find it a tad hypocritical that GPs are so concerned about the addictive properties of Z class drugs, and their side effects, that they are extremely reluctant to prescribe them. They even think a course of valium is better. Why can’t GPs be so clued up on these issues and so concerned when they are writing prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-psychotics? What’s a bit of tardive dyskinesia and cardiac toxicity between friends, eh?

I really do envy those who can get a good night’s sleep. You are very lucky. Think of me at 2am when I’m still up, reading a book and eating Yorkie bars. Oh, I forgot, you can’t, you’re asleep….

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