I have a really great pair of boots. Gorgeous. And I get compliments every time I wear them. They are black suede cowgirl boots with a delicate silver embroidered design that extends from toe to knee, and I wear them often. But there is an interesting story behind their purchase, and I feel compelled to share that story with anyone who compliments me on my footwear.
I think I’ve mentioned that I rarely sleep. Just one of those lovely symptoms of bipolar disorder for many people. I would watch with envy as my husband slumbered happily next to me, while I tossed and turned miserably, wishing I could fall asleep if even for just a few hours. Sometimes I would go all night without a wink. Other nights, I might watch the clock and find that an hour or two had passed since the last time I looked, and those nights I would alternate between feeling delighted that I’d been blessed with at least those two hours of happy sleep, and feeling cheated because it had only been such a short time.
During my sleepless nights, I was unbelievably productive when I wasn’t too ticked off at myself for not being able to sleep. Some nights I would simply lie in bed feeling sorry for myself. Other nights, when I was manic, I would never go to bed to begin with and stay up cleaning or reading or sewing Halloween costumes, organizing my Tupperware cupboard or dusting the crystal in my china cabinet that nobody ever uses. I baked in the middle of the night, and caught up on a lot of Showtime series. But I didn’t sleep. And I was useless in the daytime, when my husband and three children needed me. Useless. I crashed. And I crashed hard.
I tried the holistic approach. I tried hypnotherapy and yoga. I tried chamomile tea and relaxing lavender bubble baths. I tried listening to relaxation CDs. Nothing worked. But you have to remember that when you are bipolar, it’s not a matter of being tired or not. I was exhausted. But my brain would not shut up. It would not shut off. And when your brain is spinning and talking and stimulated, sleep is simply not in the cards. Unless you forced the issue with medications.
So, about 6 or 7 years ago, I decided enough was enough and I asked my doctor for a sleep aid. I had tried over-the-counter assistance, to no avail. I had already eliminated caffeine completely from my lifestyle, and stopped doing anything that might stimulate my brain after 7 or 8pm. No reading or watching TV, no talking on the phone. I tried to ease myself into sleep, and nothing worked. So I asked my doctor to bring out the big guns.
I tried a few different medications. Lunesta allowed me to sleep quietly for a few hours, but it wasn’t enough. And once I had a taste for a few hours of unconscious rest, I wanted more. A good night’s sleep became a goal I intended to attain. I’ve never actually done hard drugs, but I started to liken it to crack – highly addictive and something I couldn’t live without. I think that Sonata didn’t work for me because of the name – seriously! I couldn’t rely on sleep from something that sounded like it should be part of my daughter’s violin recital.
So that left me with Ambien.
I had heard stories about Ambien. You’ve heard them, too: people who gained 30lbs after taking it because they would get up in the middle of the night and make and eat manicotti every night for three months. Then there were the people who would crash their cars at 3am and blame it on Ambien. Yeah, right. A drug can make you sooooo sleepy that you’re completely unaware of what you’re doing in the middle of the night?
Yep. That’s how I got the boots.
About a month after starting Ambien (which, by the way, was the most effective sleep aid I’d ever tried – I was sleeping like a baby and a good night’s sleep is key to maintaining my relative sanity), I received a delivery of a great big box from Nordstrom. My favorite store that I never shop at because everything is always so expensive. The box was addressed to me and I thought maybe my sweet husband had sent me a “just because” gift. I ripped open the packaging to find three – THREE – boxes of cowgirl boots. All my exact size, all my exact style.
They were beautiful. And they were mine.
Wait, no they weren’t. I noticed the envelope amid all the boxes. I thought it might be a card enclosure from my hubby, telling me how desperately he loved me and was proving it through the purchase of boots. I had already started thinking of ways I would thank him when he returned home after work that night. But the envelope contained the receipt. I thought, how lame of Nordstrom to include the receipt in a gift, but this was no gift. This was the result of a 2:47am online spree a few days earlier courtesy of yours truly. Three pair of boots, to the tune of more than $650. I HAD GONE SHOPPING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLIPPING NIGHT!!!!! And I remembered NONE of it.
I was mortified – what else had I done unwittingly in the middle of the night? My car was still in one piece and I hadn’t gained any weight, but I couldn’t believe I was one of those people I had laughed at. And even worse, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to be able to keep the boots.
So I returned two pair. I thought I’d keep the third pair as a constant reminder of how I reacted to Ambien. OK, that’s not true….. I kept them because they were FABULOUS.
And now I’m back to lots of not sleeping. It’s less dangerous. And less expensive.