This is the third blog in a series about a recent psychiatric hospital stay that I had in December of 2013. To read the first post click here.
On the second day of my hospital stay last December, I had a big realization. I was not on ANY medication! This honestly came as a shock to me. I had assumed that since I was in the hospital for having a manic episode that part of my recovery would include taking some sort of psychiatric medication daily. To be honest I felt extremely grateful that I was not put back on meds. I then put medication in the back of my mind and didn’t think about bringing it up until an exit interview that I had with my hospital psychiatrist. When I asked her if I would be on meds moving forward, she said no. I was very surprised. She told me that during her conversations with me she got the sense that I was already using many tools and strategies to be proactive with my health. The psychiatrist stated that my quick turnaround in the hospital led her to believe that putting me back on meds would be “taking a step backwards”. She did prescribe a sleeping pill for me to be used only when needed. The psychiatrist also suggested a few natural sleep aids and dosages. Walking out of the meeting with her I felt a wide range of emotions: grateful for not being put back on daily psychiatric meds, grateful for only having to take a sleeping pill when needed, a sense of relief knowing daily meds would not re-enter my life, surprised, happy, and a little sad that not everyone is as fortunate as I was to have as good a psychiatrist during their hospital stay.
During my exit interview she told me that the main focus in my recovery would be getting good quality sleep. After getting my sleeping pill prescription filled at a pharmacy in my hometown, I walked over to the natural health store. Both the hospital psychiatrist and a wellness expert friend of mine had suggested that I look into GABA and melatonin, so I talked with one of the employees at the store. She was extremely knowledgeable and very patient in answering all of my questions. I bought both GABA and melatonin and decided then and there to put them into a small pouch and make my own sleep toolkit.
Recently I had talked to someone at a course who is very knowledgeable about essential oils and has used them personally for ten years. It’s something that I knew very little about. She suggested a few that I look into buying one or more oils to have on hand for sleep support (http://essentialoilbenefits.org/top-10-essential-oils-sleep-insomnia/). I ended up buying a small kit of various essential oils including lavender, which I added to my sleep toolkit.
I transferred pills from the GABA and melatonin containers into small medication containers that I had at home. I got a small pouch out of my closet that I had kept from a long flight. I then put my sleeping pill medication, GABA, melatonin, and lavender essential oil into the pouch. Below is a picture of my sleep toolkit.
Since my manic episode three and a half months ago, I have used GABA and melatonin together on four different occasions to help me get to sleep. And I’m very happy to say that I haven’t used the sleeping pill medication once! I keep my sleep toolkit in a nightstand drawer.
There are three main reasons as to why a sleep toolkit is helpful for me:
Peace of mind knowing that natural supplements and pharmaceutical medication are close on hand for me to use when needed to get quality sleep.
Having the above in one easy to find place - not scattered.
Ease of portability - the small pouch can easily be put in a bag when I’m away from home
Whether you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or not, I strongly feel that almost everyone would benefit from putting together and having their own sleep toolkit. According to a US study done in 2011, 60% of Americans have sleep issues nearly every night (http://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/annual-sleep-america-poll-exploring-connections-communications-technology-use-). I would suspect that this number is nearly identical in many other countries as well. Other scientists are so bold as to state that we are chronically sleep deprived. (http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=24490)
If you decide to set up a sleep toolkit, discuss this with one or more of the medical professionals that you have appointments with. I would also encourage you to go into your local natural health store when it’s not busy and ask to speak to someone who’s knowledgable about natural sleep supplements. In my experience, some of the people working at such stores are a WEALTH of information. As long as they are not busy they are normally more than willing to share their education with you.
I am not a medical professional nor do I pretend to be. In sharing my experiences around my sleep toolkit, it is my intention to get you thinking:
Would having my own sleep toolkit be beneficial for my overall health?
Would having my own sleep toolkit be beneficial for my mental health?
What item(s) will be in my sleep toolkit?
What medical professional(s) can I talk to regarding items for my sleep toolkit?
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