I’ve Got My Mind Back!

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison

I was always a voracious reader until psychiatric medications began to stack one on top of one another. I don’t know which one did it, or if it was the illness itself, but suddenly I couldn’t read. Not like I used to. I couldn’t devour books. I couldn’t read one cover to cover. I couldn’t sit still long enough. I couldn’t concentrate. I could read the bible. A passage here and a passage there. I could read an article on my computer or phone. I could write. Blog. Short pieces at a time. I feel anxious just writing this. It brings me too close to the way I used to feel. Icky.

I’m writing this to celebrate. Six years ago or so, I was hospitalized for depression. I saw a very gifted psychiatrist. He said I was hypomanic. Now, I blurted? I’m always like this. The Abilify I was taking to make the SSRI anti depressant I was taking was pushing me hypomanic. He said I shouldn’t be on an SSRI or Abilify, which I had been on for years! He switched me to Latuda and took me off the others. He also said I would get my mind back.

He was right. I did. It all came back, slowly, but surely. Last week, I told an author, Diane Harwood, I would read her book and review it and I did! I realized today what a big deal that was! I’m very thankful my mind is working again and I was able to keep my word. What follows is a re-blog of her magnificent book, “Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartun Bipolar Disorder.”

Sleep is a Gift

close up photography of woman sleeping
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Psalm 127:2 AMP It is vain for you to rise early, To retire late, To eat the bread of anxious labors— For He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep.

I haven’t written about the results of my sleep test yet, because I wasn’t having any luck implementing solutions they suggested. I was getting very frustrated.

What I learned from the study,  was that when I slept on my side I breathed normally, achieved REM sleep and took in oxygen at 90+%. Unfortunately, when I slept on my back I barely slept. I woke up without registering it, or all the way. My oxygen dropped into the 70s … and I had sleep apnea.  They wanted me to stay on my sides,  or use a wedge pillow in my bed to elevate my head while on my back.

Having tried a wedge when it was suggested for heartburn and failed because I had problems inching down it as I slept, I opted for sleeping on my sides. It worked sort of,  but I began getting really bad headaches. Side sleeping was putting too much pressure on my jaw. My jaw was aggravated and injured from the pressure of my sleep position. Clearly this wasn’t working. I wasn’t having any luck with their solutions and I only had one left: the wedge.

I ordered one from Amazon. It had a textured cover. Maybe I wouldn’t slide down it! 😊 It was my last hope. It arrived on a Saturday. A big day, the day Mike and I were going to Wisconsin to see the trainer with our dog Riley to try to get her to walk on the leash with me without pulling!

The day was exhausting. The wedge had been airing out by the bedroom window all day to rid it of the plastic smell it had when it arrived. Finally, I was time to go bed. I got comfortable and closed my eyes. I woke up the next morning 12 HOURS LATER!!I

Sleep disorder triumphed over! I’ve slept 8 hours a night ever since! From a gal whose previous record was 5 hours over the past year plus. I am very thankful to God for the gift of sleep. And I’m a big believer in sleep studies. Thank you for taking this journey with me.



No Giving Up!

Two Peas in a Pod

I’ve been married to my husband for 39 years this Friday! I no longer ever ignore his counsel because he is right such a high percentage of the time. I’m sure many husbands would love to hear that! But, sorry boys… this guy has earned it. He is thoughtful, contemplative, has great common sense and a good heart.

This morning when he saw once again how inconsolable I was at the thought of losing Riley, and we had discussed a thorough training program for the two of us to solve our problems on the leash he said, “Let’s go for it!” I cried with joy and relief!

So we are! Riley and Mike and I are going for it! We’re going to tackle this problem and we’re not going to let it beat us!

My Dog Riley Needs You


Riley is 5 years old this past May. I have loved her ever since I first saw her online through the rescue agency PAWS of Wisconsin. She is a beautiful,  friendly, loving lab terrier mix we brought home when she was 6 months old at Thanksgiving time. I love her more than words can say. She has been my friend and companion ever since. She’s a sweet dog who only barks when strangers come to the door. An admirable quality!

Now I have to find her a new home and my heart is breaking. PAWS is helping me in my search, but I wanted to tell my online friends too. I would love to re- home her with someone I know.

The reason for all this is my health. Riley needs a good walk every day and the arthritis in my shoulders, elbows, wrists and hand has gotten so bad I can no longer handle her on the leash consistently.  She’s beautiful, but requires a firm loving hand. I’ve been injured on walks just enough times to have become weak and fearful… the exact opposite. In addition,  I’m battling sleep disorders and bipolar disorder. It takes all my energy to take care of myself and our modest apartment when I can manage to.

She’s great on walks with her dog walker and Mike,  but there’s not enough money to sustain the one, and not enough time for the other.

These sound like tiny problems, but they are converging to make for an impossible situation.

I want Riley to be happy and healthy more than my selfish needs of ownership. She needs to walk! Dog parks. Healthy ownership.

Please let me know if you know anyone willing to ensure the happy, healthy next 10+ years of this beautiful doggy’s life!

Thank you! Libby

Creativity and Insomnia

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep at all I draw. I’ll create. A painting. In ink. Close to flawless. I don’t know how it happens. I go on auto-pilot. My right brain takes over. Perhaps the rest of my brain mostly is asleep.

Yesterday morning, after sleeping not at all, I painted this:

(c) Libby Baker Sweiger Potpourri of Flowers in a Lavender Vase

The chief enemy of creativity is good sense ~ Pablo Picasso

Not the model I’d like to use for mental health, but an amazing artist! It’s just one week until my sleep study and hopefully I will be learning to sleep and painting with my entire brain!

I plan to work on it!

Sleep: Starts and Stops

“Insomnia is a kind of torture while the world is fast asleep, you’re up all alone full of random thoughts in the universe and sometimes the thoughts will reach a standstill and your mind will become more aware of the silence and it is at that moment that you realize that you are all alone.” Pinterest

Two more weeks until my sleep testing for sleep apnea, and whatever other symptoms might indicate any additional disorders of the mind and body that have made sleep elusive and something to fight for not enjoy… not fall into like most normal humans. Tonight demonstrates my least favorite pattern. I fell asleep for one blissful hour. Then I woke up with a start, never to darken sleep’s door again.

I feel frazzled. Exhausted with all my nerves on end. My brain is devoid of ideas as I try fervently and futility to calm back down.

I’m practicing the deep breathing exercises my psychologist taught me. It’s working. It’s calming me down. If I can’t sleep, I will rest. Pass the time and control my thoughts. I remember a childlike thought my daughter used, “not the boss of me.” The night is not the boss of me. Fear and panic need not dominate my thoughts. I can have peace with sleeplessness. It’s not going to kill me. Inconvenience me ~ not sicken me. I’m seeking treatment. I will get well. I will be whole again. I will right myself.

Sleep will come again.

Sleep Plays Coy

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.” Maya Angelou

I have an unofficial diagnosis of my sleep issues: insomnia and possibly two sleep disorders. Any one of which explains why I don’t sleep well.

Treatment: Sleep study at the sleep clinic, overnight July 13th fully monitored. Diagnosed and interpreted on July 27th and an appointment with a Sleep Psychologist at the end of August.

Until then I’m on my own. Some nights I sleep. Most nights I don’t, much. I had an excellent meeting on June 6th with the Department head of the Sleep Clinic. She knew my language. She’d spoken with 100’s, maybe thousands like me. And she knew exactly how to proceed.

My hope and prayer is that the methods that have worked for so many, work for me. I use to find the night intriguing, mysterious… now it’s just a cage for which I have no key. Now I live with the hope that someday sleep will not be so elusive, but once again a dear friend who visits regularly.

I can wait for my appointments, knowing that the end is in sight. I’m no longer alone in my fight. Good night. Someday I will be able to say that with more meaning. Someday soon, I hope!

Upside Down Days And Dreamless Nights

‘But [Pooh] couldn’t sleep. The more he tried to sleep the more he couldn’t. He tried counting Sheep, which is sometimes a good way of getting to sleep, and, as that was no good, he tried counting Heffalumps. And that was worse. Because every Heffalump that he counted was making straight for a pot of Pooh’s honey, and eating it all. For some minutes he lay there miserably, but when the five hundred and eighty-seventh Heffalump was licking its jaws, and saying to itself, “Very good honey this, I don’t know when I’ve tasted better,” Pooh could bear it no longer.’

Trying to sleep, working at sleep are exercises in futility. Either you close your eyes and the sweet nectar of rest overcomes you and you sleep…or you close your eyes and peer into the dark, scratchy sandpaper which is the inside of your eyelid. The latter is the torture of insomnia.

Insomnia by Libby
Blogging on my phone

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I have yet to sleep. I can’t blame daytime sleeping this time. My fitbit shows I took one short nap, that’s all. I exercised more than usual, so that’s not the culprit. I had a lovely day… can’t blame the day. We had company and I drank a Coke Zero after dinner trying to stay awake for the evening. Maybe that’s it! One little glass of diet pop? Maybe, but all night? I am still thinking sleeping disorder. I’m too consistently a really rotten sleeper.

And now, I’m once again in danger of flipping my days and nights around like a newborn baby. It happens so easily, no matter how hard I work at straightening them around. The Heffalumps have me in their jaws… not Pooh’s honey!

But, because I have bipolar disorder, I need sleep desperately to keep my equilibrium It’s catch as catch can where my sleep is concerned. So what’s my plan? Approximately: write until 4 – 4:30 AM. Take my medication. Wait a half hour. Eat breakfast. Wait for the inevitable exhaustion from being up all night and sleep from 6 AM to 10 AM within a nap in the afternoon…or however my body will cooperate.

That’s what it amounts to…waiting for my body to cooperate. And, never drinking caffeine after dinner again! Hoping our guests understand, if I fall asleep in my chair ~ or excuse myself early ~ of course they will.

This has been going on for years. It’s just gotten much worse these past six months. I can’t get myself turned around anymore, keeping my days daytime and my nights for sleep.

I can hardly wait for my sleep consult June 6th. Coasting until then. Trying not to let the Heffalumps get me!

Tackling Insomnia

“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”
David Benioff, City of Thieves

Now that I have shed the ties that choke the life out of you: Depression ~ it’s time to go after the other oppression sucking the life from my days: Insomnia. Last night was a great night. I slept with only one brief interruption from 11:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. I hardly ever stay up that late, but I hardly ever sleep that late either. The great thing in that it’s six hours sleep straight through. Usually I go to bed at 9 exhausted, fall asleep by 9:30 or 10 p.m. and wake up for good anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 a.m. However, even sleeping until 5:30, it’s 8 a.m. and I’m exhausted and ready for a nap.

I’m back after a nap! For this reason, I don’t think I just have insomnia. I believe I have a sleep disorder. I recently read an article from the Gelb Institute, a second generation Dental Group in New York, also billed as Sleep Disorder, TMJ, Headache, Sleep Apnea Specialists. They have invented an Airway Centric medical device that works differently from the TMJ device that I wear. They say the typical device like mine can make matters worse if you suffer from sleep disordered breathing. And sleep disordered breathing interferes with the all important REM stage, and true rest and rejuvenation of your body and mind.

The more of the article I read, the more it sounded like me. The symptoms include: teeth grinding, TMJ, anxiety, depression, cold intolerance, insomnia, daytime fatigue, falling asleep during the day, brain fog, scalloped tongue. I have all symptoms but the last two. I don’t what they mean.

After years of my doctor trying to get me to get a sleep study done and my thinking I could fix things on my own, I have an appointment on June 6th for a consultation. I resisted going, because I was sure I didn’t have sleep apnea. And I was afraid to wear a mask to sleep! Anxiety holding me back again. It never occurred to me it could be something else interfering with breathing and sleep quality!

Well, wish me luck my friends. This would be a real life changer. Sleeping at night. Not dreading it. Having energy during the day. Real productivity. An entire day’s worth. It sounds wonderful. I’m hoping and praying for the very best!

Listen for Hope

20180506_122451Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. Shel Silverstein

It’s been nearly a week since the depression that held me captive has lifted! In that time I have walked farther than the two weeks before! I have accomplished more around the house. I have taken the bus to a Doctor’s appointment, from a girl who wouldn’t leave the apartment to get the mail! I have been happier, laughed more, slept better and been more alive and excited about life than I have in many weeks.

The only good thing about a depression is coming out of it and feeling how great life is on the other side!

Life is difficult. Horrid things happen every day. Like the school shooting/massacre just yesterday. Going through it depressed is almost too much!

There is plenty of joy to be found in this life and it’s very hard to find it through the mud stained glass of a major depression. When all that is washed away, the sun shines through and the beauty of the world is readily apparent.

Anything can happen to you when you’re not looking at life through the muddy lenses of sorrow and depression. So, if you find yourself depressed,  seek help. Keep seeking until you get it. Don’t give up, because you’re in a fight and you never know when it might become a fight, not just for hope, but for your life!