DX: Acute Stress Reaction

I swear, I really do learn something new every day.

My appointment with Dr. Goodenough was on Wednesday, and like I said I would, I brought up the subject of my disturbed sleep and morning anxiety. It had not yet occurred to me that it might be due to the series of unfortunate events I’ve experienced over the past six weeks or so; all I knew was that it had absolutely nothing to do with my bipolar. My underlying mood is rock solid, and if it weren’t for the fact that I have a psychiatric history I’d call myself normal in every sense of the word.

So I told Dr. G all about the injury at Disney World, the fact that my nephew died recently, and that my son Ethan and my sister Louise have been fighting like cats and dogs (which I think stresses me out even more than it does the two of them).  I didn’t think this all added up to anything, but Dr. G said there is an actual diagnosis called Acute Stress Reaction. It’s even in the DSM-5 (I know—I checked). This can be a precursor to PTSD, but it doesn’t have to be; in fact, it tends to be self-limiting. The trick in my case is to make me sleep without having distressing dreams so I don’t wake up anxious, so he added two weeks’ worth of Ambien, a powerful sleep medication, to my med regimen to break that cycle.

I couldn’t help chuckling inwardly when he pointed out he was adding this diagnosis, not changing it from the original Bipolar 1. He must have remembered my “dumb question of the year”. Come to think of it, I’ve noticed that he does recall things I’ve said, as well as past discussions about all sorts of things. I’m glad to see that. Dr. Awesomesauce was always so good with the caring thing, and it makes me feel like Dr. G cares about me too. It’s funny, he reminds me so much of Mister Rogers, but every time I see him I spill my guts. I mean, I don’t hold anything back. I’ve even talked to him about sex, for crying out loud, so coming to him about my stress levels over what seem like minor things is easy. (Well, the fact that my poor nephew passed away and my sister has now lost a child isn’t a minor concern, but…you know.)

Anyway, the past two nights’ sleep has been marvelous. I take my usual meds at 9 PM, but save the Ambien till closer to bedtime because it doesn’t take long to kick in. I’m not waking up in the middle of the night, I haven’t had disturbing dreams, and guess what, I’m not in a lather of anxiety. It doesn’t make me any groggier in the mornings than I already am, which is a very good thing. And I only have to take it for two weeks, which is great because I don’t want to be on another med indefinitely. Lord knows I consume enough meds at night to make me sleep like the dead. But it hasn’t been enough to stop me from waking up at the same time of night that I got the call about my nephew, or stressing out over stuff I can’t do anything about.

We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll work on my stress during the daytime and try to let go of the things I can’t fix. Wish me luck!

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

3 thoughts on “DX: Acute Stress Reaction

  1. I don’t recall if I wished you my deepest condolences on the loss of your nephew. I hold you and your family, all those who loved and miss your nephew, in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve.

    Glad to hear that what you are going through is situational, each situation stressful, but not rising to the level of PTSD.

    Liked by 1 person

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