Citation: cantsleepwontsleep. "Less Is More: Self-Medicating Manic-Insomnia: An Experience with Various Herbs & Pharmaceuticals (exp108723)". Erowid.org. Apr 21, 2017. erowid.org/exp/108723
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chamomile, passionflower, valerian, poppy, vodka, mirtazipine, risperidone, largactil [chlorpromazine], quetiapine, zolpidem, zopiclone, codeine, valium, clonazolam, clonazepam, temazepam, xanax.
In this report, I will first relate the symptoms I experience inside of periods of mania, insomnia, personality and persistent perception disorder. These are not entirely typical, and the preparations I describe are largely my attempt to medicate these specific things. This (lengthy) part is likely not relevant to many people, but I include it because I want to.
The second part contains information on ingredients and preparation of 'alternative' and legal self-medication that I have found effective.
The third part contains information regarding prescribed or 'illegal' self-medication using controlled substances that I find to be effective under certain (extreme) conditions.
I cannot advise combining the two methods of self-medicating, as I have found this to result in feeling a little unwell and uncomfortable and even have experienced paradoxical effects whereby it made my insomnia worse, even resulting in melancholy that borders on depression.
Suffering from extended periods of mania and hypomania, I find that such periods of high activity can result in chronic insomnia which can be very difficult to manage. During these times, I am often unable to sleep for 48-72 hours at a time. It results in a state of exhaustion that makes sleep even more difficult to obtain as my mind races and becomes more and more disorganised. It can be both divine and hellish. What sleep does come is often broken and in short supply.
The sleeplessness doesn't help the mania and the symptoms that result can manifest or compound traits that are often interpreted or described as being certain personality or perceptual disorders.
For example, during these times, I find there is an increase in my sense of detachment and de-realisation. Lights can strobe and halos will develop around objects appear to radiate photons. Colours may appear more or less saturated and appear to cross sensory boundaries, developing absurd associations that is easily confused with other sensory data.
An example might be the appearance of wet concrete smelling like bicycle grease and tasting like stinging palms and wet wool. This is, I understand, an association that I have and is somewhere in my experiential memory. Perhaps sliding off a bike in the wet and kissing the pavement, before having to re-seat the chain to carry on cycling. It makes perfect sense, in hindsight.
Contrasts will linger, as the light from an optical exam lingering on my retina. Shadows will dance in the periphery and patterns may coalesce or appear to shift into recognisable features, letters, numbers, faces among other things. Objects can appear less real and the solid lines that describe them might flicker or waver, especially when vision is fixated - such as with the slack-jawed, insomniac stare.
Another perhaps more troublesome symptom is the 'blankness', whereby it is easy to become so lost in mental imagery and visualisation that vision appears to vanish and I forget myself entirely. A complete withdrawal from the immediate situation into fantasy. While only momentary, such waking dreams can be concerning due to the disassociation with this reality.
I experience adrenal responses that increase fatigue and irritability, my endocrine system becomes hyperactive meaning thyroid levels are not constant nor consistent with regular function. This also exaggerates the manic energy and rebound exhaustion. It is possible that certain nutrient deficiencies become noticeable, or are perhaps causative of such episodes.
Having now spent some time in the upper Northern hemisphere, I am pretty sure my vitamin D levels are much lower than times where I have been allowed enough sunshine per day in other parts of the world to ensure more than enough of vitamin D is manufactured by my body.
While I might still experience mild hypo-manic / persistent symptoms when in the sun, they are in way as extreme as those when the sun cannot be seen for days.
One recurring, non-physical symptom of the mania, insomnia and de-realisation is a strange smell. This smell is very similar to that of certain psychotropic herbs. I have found that a good grounding exercise is to unzip a bag containing a leaf of certain herbs and to breath in the scent.
It is like when I have a song stuck in my head, and only listening to it can break the loop in my mind.
Anyhow, I do not wish these symptoms to be 'treated' entirely. They coincide with periods of greater motivation, creativity, sociability and ingenuity. I do not wish to lose these things, they are part of my character and useful to me. As such, I no longer engage with 'treatment' through the daily use of psychiatric medications, and doctors accept this.
This particular instance has lead to only sixteen hours sleep in six days - an average of three hours per night, well below the recommended eight. Really, this has been fifty-four hours awake, followed by eight hour's sleep, another forty hours awake, four hour's sleep, etc...
Sleep is the cure. Sleep is critical to a healthy mind. It doesn't have to be eight hours at a time. Two here, one there, a couple more later... So long as there is at least six to eight hours in twenty-four hours, it is fine.
Usually, when I reach 20-30 hours without sleep, I might prepare or make use of a 'firefighting' kit to tackle the coming blaze or douse it before it rages into an all engulfing conflagration of obsessive delusion, irrational paranoia and excessive and gruesome pornography.
The firefighting / emergency kit is usually one of two options.
The first is an 'alternative' or herbal remedy. The ingredients and preparation (for a long and short method) is as follows:
- 300g dried chamomile / 1 box chamomile tea-bags (8gx30)
- 300g dried passionflower leaves and stems (p. incarnata) / 1 box passiflora tea-bags (8gx30)*
- 3-5g valerian root / 1 box valeriana tea-bags (8gx30)
- Perhaps a handful of dried hops, although the taste is very bitter and they are groggy (rarely I use them).
- A handful of poppy seeds / a few dried heads / ball of latex
- Vodka 40%ABV (80proof)**
- Empty gel caps.
*this is also roughly the minimum amount of (non-teabag / fresh) passiflora that I have found is required to gain any (marginal) effect from combination with herbs containing DMT (eg, p. viridis / p. arundinacea - I think the required amount of canary reed grass is way too much. Not really worth the hassle).
**Standard vodka 40%ABV (80proof) is best for dried herbs, extracts the water-solubles. Premium vodka 60%ABV (120proof) is good for wet herbs / roots, extracts volatile oils (not required). Any higher ABV/proof extracts pretty much everything from the herb, useful or not, and will result in a pretty nasty residue that is not nice to ingest. Less is more, in this case.
Long method (6 weeks prep):
-It is good to chop the herbs as fine as possible.
- Once this is done, I place the chopped herbs into glass jars or cups, so that the vessel is roughly one-third full with the plant material.
- The herbs (esp. roots) will expand, so it is important to make sure they are not over-full.
- The glass jars must be sealed air-tight, to avoid premature evaporation and also to prevent mold or bacterial growth (possible even in the alcohol) so consider this when choosing containers.
- Pour the alcohol over the herbs in the jars, covering them completely, right to the lip of the jar - the consistency ought to be that of a melting slushy
- Seal the jar(s), place in a dark cupboard for at least 6-8 weeks.
- Check the jar(s) every day, top up any alcohol that might have evaporated and stir/invert the mix a few times.
- After 6-8 weeks, of this steeping process, it is time to finish the extraction.
- Pour the contents of the jar(s) through a muslin/cheesecloth/filter, into a shallow ceramic or glass plate eg, pyrex/casserole dish.
- Squeeze the cloth/filter to get as much liquid from the herb mix as you can (herbs can be discarded after this.
- If there is sediment, it may be worth filtering the liquid once more.
- What is present at this stage is essentially a tincture of the herbs. It can be used as is.
- Slowly evaporate the liquid in the dish. This can be either by leaving it in open air to dry naturally, or by placing the dish over a steaming pan of water to speed the evaporation (similar to drying liquid ketamine).
- I don't advise 'flash-frying' as this appears to burn everything. It will leave a residue.
- Scrape this reside using a flat blade (eg, razor) and collect the powdered substance.
- Transfer the powder into the gel caps.
This results in a number of capsules that contain a mix of calming and sedative herbal extract.
I have found that it is difficult to determine potency, but taking one or two of these an hour before bed will usually result in a feeling of relaxation, calm and promotes easy and restful sleep. Often this sleep will contain dreams that are more vivid than usual, and there is little to no hangover evident the next day.
However, due to the ingredients, it would be irresponsible of me to suggest 'normal operation' and the mixing of such herbs as valerian (and the mild MAOI effect of passionflower) with other medications has not been well investigated and as such might be wise to avoid in high doses.
I've found that taking a single cap earlier in the day can promote a feeling of calm and relaxation, perhaps mild sedation, not unlike that of a low dose of valium or xanax, without excessive 'drunk' feeling or much euphoria.
A course of this extract, over a week or so, is a good way to 'reset' my body clock and help re-establish a 'normal' circadian rhythm. It also greatly reduces the inability to rest that accompanies such manic / chronic insomnia.
I have found that it is possible to develop some reliance on the extract caps, however, and using them for too long can result in a kind of rebound anxiety / insomnia. This leads me to believe that the amount extracted from the quantities of herbs in the ingredient list is sufficient for a single course of self-medicative treatment.
Short method (less than 60 mins prep)
- Using the same ingredients as before (no vodka required)
- Place all the herbs together in a large pan and cover with boiling water.
- Place on high heat, cover the pot and let roil for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Allow the water to simmer and reduce until you are left with a thick liquid.
- Strain the liquid into a jug, proceed to filter in order to remove as much plant matter as possible.
- Squeeze out as much liquid from the herbs, these may be retained for (a weak) 'top up' for future extraction. I usually discard them.
- Evaporate the liquid in the same manner as with the long method.
- Scrape the resulting residue and transfer to gel caps.
I have noticed the short method to often result in much less residue, what there is is often more 'crystalline' when scraped and I have found it to be not quite as strong. This is not to discount its effectiveness, however.
A cap or two of this extract will similarly promote relaxation, mild sedation and restful sleep.
Depending on how much I've packed into a gel cap, it can either be a good night-time sleeping aid, or a good day time calmative. Dreams can also be quite vivid.
Again, I cannot recommend mixing with other drugs, alcohol or medication.
That said, however, a shot of brandy in a milky hot chocolate with one or two of these caps (or a light reefer) will definitely have me wanting to lie down in bed for a few hours.
I have found that this method can also be described as having a mild effect, comparable to low dose valium or xanax.
This leads me on to the second alternative and also requires briefly discussing the symptoms I mentioned earlier.
These herbal extractions help reduce the symptoms only by promoting sleep and a calmer state of mind. I believe sleep to be the greatest tether to my sense of place in reality.
I believe sleep to be the greatest tether to my sense of place in reality.
Without it, I become very disassociated and symptoms steadily get worse. If I am in a state whereby I am 'totally tripping balls' and experiencing disassociation and physical issues to the point where I am existing about 30cm over my left shoulder from my sensory input - the herbal stuff doesn't really cut it - although it does help a little.
In these instances, I usually turn to chemical sedation.
I've found that there are a few different drugs that work and don't work.
- Psychiatric medication, Mirtazipine, Risperidone, Largactil, Quetiapine, etc.
I hate these drugs, while they may sedate me and reduce certain symptoms - they cause more problems than they solve. Especially the older ones. Mirtazipine was probably the best, but I find myself wanting to eat every item of food in the house in a zombie-state, rather than sleep. When I do sleep, I don't dream. Not on any of these kinds of drugs. Dreaming is crucial to healthy cognition and process. I avoid these drugs like a jealous ex-girlfriend.
- Zdrugs, Zoplicone, Zolpidem.
These do not help so much. These give me a bad taste in my mouth and I often take a couple at once and don't fall asleep, instead feeling the urge to play video games or watch cartoons for hours, feeling spaced out, instead of sleeping. They are no good at prescribed doses. They give me maybe an hour of 'feeling woozy' and then several hours of a weird hangover and acidity in my gut. In order to 'knock me out', I need 2-3x the 15mg max dose prescribed.
- Opiates, Codeine.
This does help me. It relieves a lot of the disassociation, perceptive disorder, inspires confidence and motivation and also increases mood. It regulates temperature (warmer) and reduces muscular/skeletal pain associated with injury, exhaustion or fluctuating thyroid levels. However, at the doses required to make me drowsy enough to sleep, it makes me feel a bit nauseous and strangely I don't fall asleep - I just scratch my balls all night and feel the urge to play video games or watch cartoons / pornography. I've found that opiates reduce the physical symptoms of manic insomnia, but do not help sleep - they can prevent it.
- Benzodiazepines, Valium, Xanax, Temazepam, Clonazepam, Clonazolam.
These guys also help me. All of them. They relieve a lot of the less-physical symptoms of manic insomnia and also seem to totally alleviate any perceptual disorder symptoms entirely. They ground me well, I feel no disassociation, but they can interfere with my normal operation. Not all of them are as effective in actual sedation.
Temazepam regulates temperature well (cooler) with little euphoria, and in my experience is the best at encouraging sleep other than Clonazolam. It does require 2-3x the 30mg max dose to be effective, however I have noticed that it appears to get a bit more effective on the 3rd or 4th day of a 7-10 day course.
Clonazolam I have found to be far too strong and is very, very addictive compared to the others. I have suffered withdrawal symptoms from only a few days' use of this substance. It takes weeks or months to feel such rebound or withdrawal symptoms from any other benzo I have taken. That said, even 0.25mg will knock me out. 0.5mg will knock me out for the whole night, but I will not remember much from the day before, which is no good. Tolerance builds very rapidly. 0.5mg after a few days will not feel anywhere near as strong. It is also not prescribed by any doctor I know, so...
Valium, Clonazepam and Xanax do promote sleep a touch, but I have found their effects are fairly weak for this and are instead quite euphoric. I find it too easy to munch handfuls of the pills a day, and tolerance builds rather rapidly. Occasionally they will make me very depressed or even angry. Especially at higher doses. 10mg before bed can turn into 100mg over 12 hours. Compulsive re-dosing. For relieving muscular pain and tension, however, valium is great at 5mg. This alone can help sleep.
As each drug alone often requires me to take higher doses than prescribed (or indicated) in order to achieve the required effects, I again apply the 'less is more' policy.
Rather than taking 40mg temazepam, which results in a subtle sedation, nice regular temperature, slightly spaced out feeling with little impact on motor control (I'm typing this out fine), I have found that taking 20mg temazepam along with 30-60mg codeine works a lot better at reducing all symptoms of insomnia and any other disorder mentioned.
A smaller dose of a combination of these substances, eg, 20mg temazepam, 30mg codeine, 10mg valium and 0.175mg clonazolam, appears to help me reduce tension, reduce symptoms, increase 'sense of place', cease perceptive disorder symptoms, does not affect my memory so much, does not result in withdrawal after only a few days use and - when I lie down to try to rest - I actually get rest! Good rest, where I wake up feeling refreshed and get straight up and do push-ups and look forward to eating breakfast kind of rest.
Again - less is more (although, really, less of more! heh).
I suppose it is the drug-drug interaction and there are many warnings in the leaflets and in literature that advise against mixing narcotics with benzos or zdrugs and whatever - but at lower doses they appear to work a lot better for reducing the symptoms of mania, insomnia and personality or persistent perceptive disorders.
At high doses alone, they have some negative effects that do not help. At high doses together - they don't help me that much at all. It's not healthy and it's not promoting anything other than a chemical dependence and a week or so of rebound insomnia and anxiety, plus a return of 'de-realisation' symptoms.
With low doses together, a course of these substances can really help...
Having been hooked on a number of opiates and benzos in the past, though - I would not want to repeat those experiences. A week on these fixes any period of mania or insomnia or any other symptoms I might be suffering at the time.
As with the herbal options that I prepare myself, a course of treatment / self-medication is preferable to reliance on chemicals. Plus the tolerance thing. It can take ages to reset for me - often up to a month or more before I notice the same effects from benzos.
When people don't understand the 'new' kinds of psychological issues that psychedelic and long-term drug users / casualties such as myself might suffer, even years after cessation of use - they try to put me into mental hospitals or treat with mind-numbingly powerful psychotropics.
While the 'alternative' / herbal option is definitely useful - sometimes things require 'real' medicines. But no responsible doctor is ever going to prescribe opiates with several different benzos at once, so it takes... planning and stockpiling and - above all - responsibility.
But it is worth it, for me.
Especially for a good night's sleep in the middle of a period of intense hypo-mania.
Additional: Using the extraction methods on any herb is possible. It is even possible to use such herbs as those used in ayahuasca, performing separate extractions on the individual barks/leaves, and taking jage extract caps about one hour before any other herb (eg, viridis / jurema) extract caps for a much less nauseating experience. I have found that, with caution, it is best to reduce the herbs used by 1/3rd for the extraction (esp alcohol), due to concentration.
One way to measure time is to hold a hand up to the horizon. Each finger between the horizon and the sun is roughly 15 minutes. As such, I've found that taking jage four-eight fingers before the sun touches the ground, building a fire and then taking the others four fingers / as the sun just touches the horizon will result in a beautiful sunset and a most pleasant evening.
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