Second: Reaching Out

The list of conditions that I had narrowed it down to was: hypothyroid disorder, abnormal estrogen/testosterone levels (or levels that weren’t right for me), chronic fatigue syndrome, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorder, depression, etc. So many conditions could be possible, but all of them needed to be diagnosed by a medical professional.

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

I contacted my PCP (primary care physician) around November 2018 and requested a consultation, even though I had my blood work done in July 2018 and everything came back “good”. When I met with my PCP, I explained how much I was falling asleep, how tired I was, and anything symptoms that might be linked to an item on my list. My doctor talked to me for a while, asked about my exercise habits (non-existent), my diet (average hotdog & chip eating American), and stress levels.

I explained how I was falling asleep while watching TV, studying, too tired to even cook myself a healthy meal let alone exercise – hence the unhealthy habits. My doctor laughed and said getting tired is just part of getting older. I’m 30 now so I’m not going to have as much energy. He suggested to change my diet, get out of the house more, destress, reduce alcohol, etc. He also stated that studying is boring as is watching TV, and waved it away. He handed me a printout of a specific diet plan that he stated I should follow for a month and if that still didn’t change anything to come back and see him.

So, I did the food prep, increased my veggie intake, a variety of protein from meat and other sources, more fruit, and didn’t eat any junk food. My energy levels got worse the first week, but the second week they got better than before the diet change. I also completely cut out alcohol, cut out caffeine (thinking that maybe I had developed an intolerance), and spent more time outside thinking it was a Vitamin D deficiency. By week 3, I was the same level of tired before the diet adjustment. However, at this time I started to develop insomnia. From the hours of 10 pm – 4 am, I was wide awake. But I was still falling asleep any other time.

I even got a part-time retail job to try to add a sense of normalcy and routine to my life. Even with being in public, and moving quite often, I still struggled with my fatigue. If I wasn’t careful, I would’ve been fired for falling asleep on the job.

I went back to my PCP around January 2019, explained that it didn’t work and he stated that he “wasn’t surprised.” Looking back I should’ve gone to a different doctor right then and there. However, I was desperate and I didn’t want to start from square one with another doctor. I explained my insomnia, and he prescribed Trazadone – an anti-depressant that assisted with a sleep aid. He explained that maybe it was just because I wasn’t getting a good full night’s rest, which seemed logical to me.

At this time I was taking standard oral birth control and escitalopram for anxiety. I had been thinking about going on anti-depressants as I was sure I had been depressed for many many years but was always afraid of the side effects. During this time my significant other/partner was living with me, so I was open about my adjustments to my medications and asked him to bring to my attention if any side effects were worrying. I expressed my fears about taking a sleep aid and worried about what effect this would have on me, but I was desperate for the energy to even do the dishes. Imagine that.

It wasn’t abnormal for me at the time to cry just because I didn’t want to sleep my life away. I thought I was lazy, depressed, and weak for not being able to handle every day normal activities. In all honesty, my partner/boyfriend bounced between, supportive and understanding, to laughing because this IS a part of getting older. He is quite a bit older than me, so age difference has been a joke between us.

Once the morning came when he forgot to take his ADHD medication and was at work, he called me on his lunch like he always did, and expressed how he had an energy drink and 4 cups of coffee and was still struggling to stay awake. That is the moment when we both opened our eyes and realized this is what I was dealing with EVERY DAY. The more he described how caffeine had no effect and he was nodding off while standing, it was my AH-HA moment. This wasn’t normal!

Published by Anna Smith

Anna Smith is not my real name, and I am hoping to provide some sources, information, and explanations to others that I struggle to find and understand.

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