Giving up Sleep Restriction Therapy in Favor of a Hillary Clinton Mask and Naked Yoga

So as you may recall, last week this neurologist put me on a very strict sleep restriction regimen, in the hopes of curing my insomnia. I was supposed to got to bed at 3am, and get up at 7am — and if I awoke during the night, and lay awake longer than 5 minutes, I was to get out of bed and go sit in another room until I was sleepy enough to go back to bed and fall asleep.

I am nothing if not dedicated, so even though I was already pretty worn out from the previous week of trying my own half-assed sleep restriction (2am-6am), I went at this balls out. Even though it was TORTURE, I somehow forced myself to stay awake until 3am the first night, before allowing myself to go to bed. (The paradox of insomnia is that I am SO SLEEPY, but when I fall asleep I wake after only one or two hours and then can’t get back to sleep.)

Now usually I am able to fall asleep right away when I first go to bed (it’s the STAYING asleep that’s hard). But the first night I tried this hardcore sleep restriction, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until around 5:30am!!! Then I had to get up at 7am, which meant I got a total of 1.5 hours of sleep that night. As per my regimen, immediately upon rising I went out in the backyard, exposing myself to bright sunlight (to supposedly reset my internal clock) and writing in this bullshit sleep diary I was supposed to keep, to track the hours I slept and my moods and whatnot.

Surprisingly, I felt fine that day — not really tired at all. I was able to stay awake all day (20 hours) until 3am again…and then that night, I was able to sleep about 2.5 hours total. (Woohoo.) The next day, I still felt fine — not too sleepy and able to go about my business without incident.

This business included a VERY weird photo shoot I was hired for — some guy wanted me to wear a Hillary Clinton mask, and a bunch of hats, over at Sunset Park. I met him at the park, and we sat in the picnic area amidst families and birthday parties while he shot close-ups of my face in various hats and the mask, all of which he had me pull halfway down my face so that only my mouth was showing. Then he had me make two expressions: a big, manic smile…and then a gaping-mouthed expression of shock. Over and over, these two expressions, in a succession of different hats. I don’t know if it was some kinda fetish or what — he wasn’t even using a real SLR camera, just a little point-and-shoot!

This went on for an hour, and finally one of the other people picnicking nearby bemusedly inquired if we minded him asking what we were doing. “I have NO IDEA,” I stated flatly (my fatigue made me less polite than I normally am), and the photographer muttered something about “for my portfolio.” Whatever!!! All I know is, I was panting into a sweaty Hillary Clinton mask on a park bench, trying not to fall asleep at 3:00 in the afternoon. SAD!

For the final shot, the photographer had me put on a knit burglar cap and pull it down over my entire face, but pulled taut in the back so that you could see the outline of my lips and nose…then he gave me $50 and sent me on my way. Then I went home and passed the fuck out (my therapy allowed one 20-minute nap per day, of which I made FULL FUCKIN’ USE!).

Anyway, that was like day 3 or so. The next couple of nights I was able to get about 3 hours sleep (amazing how I was SO FUCKING TIRED, but couldn’t even sleep a measly 4 hours straight through). But that’s when I started breaking down. On the third or fourth day (it’s all a hazy blur) I became SO FUCKING TIRED, it was TORTURE to try and stay awake til 3am. I tried to read or watch TV, but sitting on the couch made my eyelids start to droop. I tried standing up while watching TV, but I even nodded off while standing up!! The only way I could be sure of not nodding off was if I was walking, so I went for long walks around my shitty ghetto neighborhood in a desperate attempt to stay awake.

Now through all of this, my boyfriend Captain Crunch was very supportive. He went for walks with me, went out for drinks with me, talked to me, and kept my bizarre hours for the most part (I let him sleep in in the mornings). But there were a few nights when he was working, and couldn’t spend the night, and I had to figure out a way somehow to stay awake on my own.

The worst was Monday night. I started getting really sleepy around 10:30pm, so sleepy I started nodding off at my laptop. So I saddled up to take a loooooong, 2-3 hour walk around downtown Vegas. I figured to walk down to Fremont Street, which is always full of weirdos who might be able to distract me from my sleepy misery. I figured to stop at the Circle K on the way, and get some ice cream, in the hopes that the sugar would pep me up — after all, I needed to stay awake another 4.5 hours!

I remember standing in line at the Circle K, and everything was just swimming. My vision was getting kinda blurry from the exhaustion, and all the colors and stuff under the fluorescent lights were sort of fuzzy and warped. It was freaky! I got my ice cream and shuffled off into the night, but it was like one of those dreams where you’re trying to run away from something, but it’s like you’re stuck in quicksand — my legs were heavy and sluggish, and it was a windy night to boot, so the wind was conspiring against me to blow me back with every belabored step.

I somehow managed to slog along Las Vegas Blvd. toward Fremont Street, SO FUCKING TIRED that I swear I could have laid down right there on the sidewalk and passed out, roaches or no. I was THAT TIRED. At one point I stopped to lean on a parking meter and sob disconsolately…but I felt myself starting to nod off AGAIN, so I shoved off and soldiered on, determined to make it til 3am. By now it was 11:30 — 3.5 hours to go. GAH!!!

I shuffled resolutely on, but I’m here to yell you: I FELL ASLEEP WHILE I WAS WALKING. I didn’t think it could be done, but I actually nodded off while in motion. Scary! I was afraid I’d fall down and hit my head on the concrete or something, so I held my eyelids open like in A Clockwork Orange as I slogged on. I must have looked like a real fuckin’ freak!!!!!

Thankfully, once I got down to Fremont, I was looking at a half-demolished apartment building and some random guy came along and started chatting me up. I knew he was aiming to hit on me, but I was SO TIRED that I welcomed any diversion, and ended up walking along with him for about 30 min, talking about anything and everything under the sun, just to stay awake. (Talking to other people was pretty effective…I considered making a sign reading “PLEASE TALK TO ME” and then just standing around Fremont Street all night, chatting with drunk tourists to stay awake.)

Anyhoo, of course this guy wanted to know why I was walking around alone at night, so I finally told him the story before bidding him adieu and heading home. All in all it killed 30 more minutes, so now I only had to stay awake another 3 hours. Shuffle home as slowly as possible — kill another 20 minutes. Wash hair — 20 minutes. Apply a gallon of anti-acne cream in desperate attempt to repair ravaged face — 15 minutes. I swear, I was doing ANYTHING to stay awake. Torture!!!

SOMEHOW, I made it to 3am, and passed out in bed for a grand and glorious total of 3 hours. WTF! How could I be THAT tired, and still not sleep the full amount of allotted time?!?!?! I was starting to despair that this fucking treatment would never work — here it was Day FIVE, and I still wasn’t sleeping the full 4 hours. And I had to sleep the full 4 hours FOUR DAYS IN A ROW before even allowing myself to add an extra FIFTEEN MINUTES! At this rate, I wouldn’t be up to 6 hours for MONTHS — and I’d be insane by then!!!!

That next day was ROUGH. I was sooooo exhausted, I started to get sleepy around noon. I had to drive way out to the ‘burbs for a dentist appointment, and I almost fell asleep at the wheel. Then I had a photo shoot, which was the most miserable photo shoot of my life because I was a TOTAL ZOMBIE the entire time, and didn’t enjoy it one bit. Worse, because my immune system was worn down from lack of sleep, my yeast infection was still raging and my face was a broken-out DISASTER! My hair was dull and dry, and I just felt and looked like hell warmed over. BLECHHH!

That evening to I took a bath, and broke down sobbing and screaming on the phone to my mom. I was desperately tired, but felt like this was my ONLY HOPE for curing this fucking insomnia — nothing else has worked, and I was loath to puss out and give up. But I really felt like it was killing me! My mom of course freaked out and told me to quit the stupid sleep restriction — “It’s not worth it!” and I screamed at her like an insane banshee about how I HAD to do it, it was my only hope, etc. Sorry, Mom!!

After my pity party, I broke down and took a 20-minute nap — even though it was already 10pm, and I had already taken my one allotted 20-minute nap at 3pm. I was SIMPLY TOO TIRED not to. I felt better after that, and went out to do some grocery shopping. Captain Crunch was coming over, and I wanted to stock up on vodka so we could get wasted and forget our troubles (he had a bad day that day, too). But because I live in the ghetto, none of the grocery stores carry liquor — just wine and beer (they’re afraid of getting robbed, I guess)!!! I stumbled around Smith’s in a sleepy haze before going home empty-handed (well, I did buy some fruit and Greek yogurt and Lara bars and health food stuff…just no vodka). Captain C and I were forced to swill gin & tonics as we commiserated about our shitty days…but it was IMMENSELY therapeutic, and I felt a lot better.

That night, I gave up. Captain C told me the same as my mom — the restriction thing doesn’t seem to be working, so give up and just sleep when you want to sleep. I was really reluctant to give up, because the 5 days I’d already gone were so hard-won — but the idea of SLEEPING IN was so seductive that I did — I totally pussed out. For the first time, I slept the entire 4 hours straight — but then I pussed out and snoozed an extra two hours in bed, for a total of 6 hours.

The next morning I was depressed and disappointed in myself…but GOD, I felt SO much better. It felt like I had emerged from a foggy funk, and for the first time in days I was able to enjoy myself. So now, I’ve basically abandoned the idea of sleep restriction therapy — all the doctors say it’s the most effective anti-insomnia treatment, but by god I don’t know how people do it. They say it’s the hardest six weeks of your life — but I had no idea it would be THAT FUCKING HARD! In my darkest hour, I remember trying to Google personal accounts of people who had tried it successfully (I wanted to read others’ tips on ways to stay awake when exhausted, and to see how long it took them to see results, etc)…but there were NONE! I could not find ONE first-person testimonial from someone who had suffered through sleep restriction therapy. Probably because it’s too fucking hard to adhere to!

Anyway, once I gave up on sleep restriction therapy, I went back to my old shitty ways of sleeping 3-4 hours plus another 4 hours of dozing…but guess what? It wasn’t as bad as what I’d just been through!!! And right away, as soon as I started sleeping again, the hijinks started back up: I did a really, really awesome body paint photo shoot with Michael Maze and this super-cool father-daughter team one day (pics coming sooooon!) and then another day I went to a naked yoga class!

Let me tell you about it! The class was held at the Erotic Heritage Museum — one of the COOLEST museums I’ve ever been to, and it’s right here in Vegas! Two stories of really well done exhibits and displays relating to the history of sex and pornography — fabulous! I’ve long been a fan of that museum and of all the cool-ass people who work there, and it was really great to be able to strip naked and do yoga with a bunch of other like-minded weirdos there. We all rolled out our yoga mats and went to town under the aegis of this beautiful blonde yoga goddess, who was also naked, but in a very progressive, matter-of-fact way. It was GREAT!!! No one was perving on anyone, we were all just focusing on our postures and what not. There were probably 15 people in the class — fat, skinny, toned, flabby, pierced and dreadlocked and bald and boring. The guy in front of me had a Prince Albert piercing, but I honestly only noticed it once, because I was so focused on my yoga moves! Seriously!!! It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of cool things!

Now speaking of yoga, on a final note, I read online about this certain discipline of yoga called Yoga Nidra, which means something like Corpse Yoga and is used to treat soldiers with PTSD…and insomniacs! Apparently, it uses breathing techniques to put you into delta-wave sleep while meditating or something like that…and is supposedly VERY BENEFICIAL for high-strung types like me. I looked online to see about taking a class here in Vegas…but alas, I couldn’t find anywhere that offers it 🙁 D’OH!!! If you know of one, please let me know…I need help!!!

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Fabulous New Photos!

The pen is mightier than the sword! As the author of this groundbreaking, life-changing blog, I can certainly attest to the veracity of this old saw. Whether by Bic or by kick, I will fuuuuuuck you up!

I did a fabulous photo shoot today with one of my all-time favorite photographers, Randy Fosth of Shutterbug-Studio. He knows what’s UP — unlike many hobbyists and perverts I shoot with, he learned photography the old-fashioned way, growing up on a farm in Michigan with no one to talk to but the crazy old photographer on the next farm over, who taught him everything he knew about light, exposure and composition. This was in the film days, so every shot counted…and with Shutterbug, it still does!

Now I’d like to tell you about the 2nd Amendment — I fully support the right to keep and bear arms, as you can see in the photo! Har har, but seriously, folks…I do own a handgun, and I was an NRA member until their jingoistic posturing annoyed me enough to quit. I’ve been to my fair share of gun shows, mostly to marvel at the rednecks, kooks and conspiracy theorists…mostly under the aegis of my ex-brother-in-law, who is a cop and who fostered my fledgling interest in weaponry. He convinced me to buy a Sig Sauer .9mm, which I fondly refer to as “Rutger Hauer der Sig Sauer,” and which I keep nearby in a handy hidey hole. Don’t fuck with me, I said! If you’re interested, here’s an article I wrote about the Vegas gun show for one of the local alt-weeklies.

Now here’s one of the seven wigs I bought the other week from my #1 all-time favorite website, Shhhh…I want to keep this site a secret! They have all kinds of cool shit for dirt cheap!

The labia purse I got around 10 years ago as a Christmas gift from my stepmom…always wanted to use it in a shoot, and now I finally did! The boots I bought around 12 years ago at Nordstrom in California. While I was trying them on, some  middle-aged perv watched me with lust in his eyes from across the store, then followed me across the mall until he worked up the courage to invite me for a drink at Chili’s.

Over drinks, this man I had known for all of 5 minutes invited me to come to Vegas with him! I said no, but moved here myself about a month later. Who needs a perv to take you when you can pack up and move yourself, creating a fabulous new life along the way??

Did I mention not to fuck with me? I’m on Day 13 of my sleep restriction therapy, which means I haven’t gotten more than 5 hours sleep in two weeks. YAWN! Poor Shutterbug had to Photoshop the hell out of these pics just to get rid of the bags and broken-out, worn down skin on my poor, exhausted face. Fuckin’ insomnia!

Speaking of insomnia, here is a list of everything I’ve tried thus far in my 16-month battle:

  • sleep restriction
  • meditation
  • accupuncture
  • sex
  • just not worrying about it
  • vaporizing
  • smoking
  • tincture
  • Valium
  • Ambien
  • Lunesta
  • Trazodone
  • Seroquel
  • Temazepam
  • Melatonin
  • Lysine
  • Valerian
  • Kava-kava
  • VERY STRICT sleep hygiene
  • Neuro Sleep
  • Rescue Remedy
  • Xanax
  • yoga breathing
  • Bikram yoga
  • strenuous exercise
  • weeping
  • gnashing teeth
  • praying
  • cutting out alcohol and caffeine
  • therapy
  • Tylenol PM
  • antihistamine
  • catnip tea

So far, I am batting a big, fat zero. Nothing seems to help, but I have to keep trying. Next up: edibles…I’m gonna make a big batch of Rice Krispie treats tomorrow and see if that helps. They say that the effects from edibles are longer-lasting than other ways of medicating, so we’ll see.

After that, my only other idea is biofeedback…which costs $1700, but I AM DESPERATE! They say Michael Jackson was a terrible insomniac, and would have spent any amount of money to get a good night’s sleep. That’s how come he ended up taking Propofol, and dying from it 🙁 Other famous insomniacs include Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger, Drew Barrymore and Eminem…most of whom died young as a result of abusing anti-insomnia pills. YIKES!

You can see why I’m loath to keep taking pills. None of ’em work well, anyway, so I figure I’m not losing much by quitting ’em. As mentioned I’m on Day 13 of my sleep restriction therapy course, but I’m not sure how much longer I can/should continue. It doesn’t seem to be helping, and I’m getting REALLY worn down. The way it works is, you only allow yourself to stay in bed for a minimum period of time, until your body ends up so tired that you start sleeping that whole period. I chose a 6-hour  period from 2:30am-8:30am, and it’s TORTURE! I’m blathering on right now on this blog just because I have to do something to stay awake — otherwise I’d nod off, and fuck up the whole experiment.

That’s the irony — I am soooooo sleepy at night, and I fall asleep right away — within minutes. My problem is, I then wake up between 1-4 hours later, and am unable to sink back down into deep sleep — the best I can do is a sort of half-assed stage 1 doze that is NOT very restful. It’s not that my mind is racing with thoughts and worries…it’s just on, like a TV set turned to a static channel. And I CAN’T SHUT IT OFF!

This all kicked in out of the blue after I went to Burning Man two years ago. At the time, I felt that my brain was like a faulty hard drive, skipping and skipping and unable to get back into the groove of sleep. I don’t know if it’s caused by my unstable financial situation or what, but it makes this trying time in my life EVEN MORE TRYING!

I’m hoping that it will resolve itself on its own, after my problems all work themselves out. But who knows if that will even happen?

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my all-American hero friend, with whom I went on a good old-fashioned dinner-&-a-movie date the other night. I really like this guy! We went and saw the awesome movie “Beginners,” which is about two aimless sort of confused 30-somethings, and it totally spoke to me. At dinner afterward, my date asked me how my memoir writing was coming along, and I told him that I was almost done…which is a big problem, because I didn’t know how to end it. What do I do to wrap it up, when there has been no epiphany or resolution in my life?? I suppose I could make up a happy ending, I mused…

“Well, what would your happy ending be?” my date asked.

“Uhhhh….I dunno…”

I felt so clueless and adrift — I don’t even know what a happy ending would BE for me! Now, that’s pathetic.

I suppose I could write that the bank modified my loan to a manageable sum, and my insomnia went away, and I developed the determination to learn to write music and wrote a hit song, toured the world, wrote a critically-acclaimed best-selling memoir about my adventures, had it made into a fabulous movie, and became the toast of the town.

But I’d probably still be adrift. Some people are NEVER happy!

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