My sleep has always been a priority but pre-meds it consumed my life. I could sleep for 16 hours a day and still find time to fit in multiple naps. I rarely attended 6th form, barely made it through my exams and feared I would never be able to hold down a job due to my excessive levels of sleepiness. I lost a lot of friends, partly due to me not being able to explain my condition and cancelling plans too often. I was so exhausted that I didn’t care that I was missing out on being a teenager.
My condition was unmanageable until I was put on modafinil (Provigil). A drug that the movie Limitless is based on. For those of you who have seen the film Limitless, I can confirm that I did not develop any special powers but for those first initial weeks I did feel a certain level of limitlessness. The medication has taken me from a very strict sheltered lifestyle to a more ‘normal’ one, changing my life for the better. At the start I had so much energy I didn’t know what to do with myself, nor could I comprehend the fact i was able to go on a night out after a full 10 hour shift at work. My usual routine of falling asleep at 3pm or during dinner was suddenly no longer a thing, it was an extremely surreal experience. Stimulant medication has allowed me to have a busy social life as well as a work life.
Pre-covid, I work a 40+ hour week as a full time Restaurant and Operations Manager, a demanding job that requires you to be on your feet all day. I know that for some of my fellow sleepy heads working is not possible, so I am very grateful that I am able to work. Not saying it is easy for me, I do struggle with aches and pains, waking up and being on time is rare, and more often that not you can find me sat on the floor or leant up against the wall resting my eyes. But I feel very lucky to be on medication that allows me the option to work.
However, stimulant medication is a short term solution and the body becomes immune to its benefits within 2 years. Unfortunately for me after 9 months the drugs were no longer having the desired effect. It was a few months of feeling quite low and having to resort back to a sleepier lifestyle, whilst more tests were done and more consultations were booked. In all honesty, It was a much needed reality check. To remind myself that my medication does not cure me, it is not to be abused and I am still poorly underneath it all. Its role is purely to reduce my daytime sleepiness.
Since then I have been put on a rare combination of medication. I take 18mg of Concerta XL (methylphenidate) AND 400mg of modafinil to function. Which is roughly the equivalent of 25 – 30 cups of coffee. As my condition continues to progress my dosage of medication will continue to increase. I have adapted my lifestyle to avoid stimulant abuse and reduce the stimulant burden on my body.
I am learning to find a healthy balance between sleepy and stimulated.