There is nothing more frustrating than staring at a bedroom ceiling, pillows and walls coupled with tossing and turning but never falling asleep until the wee hours of the morning. Each night I would unsuccessfully attempt to capture at least 8 hours of sleep. In fact, I was lucky if I could even get 4 hours of sleep, with the hardest sleep cycle kicking in right when it was time for the alarm clocks to go off and get the kids off to school.
Soon, there were migraines. Pounding sensations radiated throughout each footstep I would attempt to make, and nausea, vomiting and a bunch of other fun symptoms appeared and my days just stopped. Ice packs, specially prescribed medications for migraines and loads of sleep were the only cure. My migraines were so bad that they were rebounding, and I could not even pull my hair up into a hair clip, because the simple touch to my head made things worse.
From there, anxiety. I was always on edge; a simple tap on the shoulder from a family member threw me over the edge as I would scream out from being startled. Unable to focus on any particular task, I would start multiple projects and finish none.
And then something as simple as getting up and getting my kids prepared for school each day suddenly became a hard decision I had to make. Depression. I would swat the alarm clock in a vacated attempt to sleep in, but I pushed myself to get up.
Once I got the kids off to school, I did not bother pulling myself together. Rather, I crawled back into bed for more slumber, which would not be achieved. So then I would walk around the house and decide which chores not to do.
I wanted to have friends or at least think I had friends so that life was not so hopeless. In reality, the depression drove people away, invitations stopped and friendships were lost. Friends would reach out to invite me to go out, but I would just say “No.” I didn’t tell people that I was depressed because I didn’t want to be judged (and being depressed made me think the world was against me anyway). And rather than people digging in and asking if something was wrong, my friends just assumed “Dana is fine; she is just avoiding us!”
These sicknesses piled up, but medicine couldn’t be the answer for me. No medication to date has ever been my friend. The medicines prescribed to me for migraines created kidney stones, which led me more down the path of “poor me” and into further depression because life just kept beating me up. The anxiety and depression medications seemed to contradict each other, creating more nausea, dizziness and forgetfulness. My mom recounts to me on a daily basis that she just hated seeing me in a zombie-like state. The medications had me in a state of comatose as the world just whizzed on by.
But I took the medicines anyway, until one day, sick with a cold, I headed to the doctor because I could not get better. My head was hurting, my ears were in pain and I could not take anymore. When my doctor began going through my list of prescriptions, I started hearing the words, really listening. I was like a human pharmacy, and rather than crying about my sinus infection that brought me, I began crying about life.
After the crying stopped, and his recognition of depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and migraines came into focus, he introduced me to a simple device called an Alpha Stim. The device delivers electricity through your earlobes and does not penetrate the skin. It was approved for insomnia. I started using it each day, ranging my treatment times from 20-40 minutes (I confer with my doctor to see which is best). I pop on earlobe clips in the privacy of my home, charge up for the day and move on. I’ve written more about it on my site, DanaVento.com.
It took time, but I don’t take medications for anxiety or depression, and I do not spend days on end in bed with migraines.
It did not happen overnight, but it happened over weeks, and I use it every day.
I am happy and engaging, and I socialize. Problems that occur in life are not insurmountable; they are just bumps in the road that simply can be paved flat as I use reason to push through.
In my situation, one illness — insomnia — was aggravating the others and spurring them on. By eliminating one, I was able to eliminate them all. Being able to sleep means I am not getting those migraines. Not getting migraines allows me to focus, and focusing keeps me so much less anxious. Accomplishing things keeps depression at bay because I am not feeling like a waste of life or a failure, and suddenly, my world is spinning right.
This is a day-by-day battle that I must remain consistent and constant in fighting in order to stay healthy. The world is moving, and I am keeping up because I have found a path that makes a difference.