When you're desperate, you do what you gotta do, but the medications did a number on my body and made a bad problem catastrophic. In 2010, when my sleep medications quit working, I realized that they had done nothing but use up the remainder of whatever neurotransmitters that I had previously had, and screwed up my neurotransmitter receptors.
As I saw it, I was left with two choices- first, I could increase the dosages on the medications and face more damage to my brain and body over the long run, and in exchange I might get a few more years of sleep and sanity. Or, I could get off the drugs and endure withdrawal symptoms, and determine that God would help me to find another way to get sleep.
In my heart I believed that He didn't want me to choose a path that would further damage my body, so I chose the latter, and entered a world of sheer hell as withdrawal symptoms kept me from deep rest for over two years.
As I weaned off the medications, I gained twenty pounds from a lack of rest, and became severely depressed. Many nights I remained awake the entire night, emailing friends and begging for prayer. And as one sleepless night turned into two, and then three, I was tempted to cave in to the drugs, time and again, as hopeless thoughts tormented me, but God urged me to persevere, assuring me that He would heal me.
Occasionally, I would scream at him. "When is it enough!? You promised to heal me! What do you want from me?!" I would rage in difficult moments. When you don't have a good night's rest for many, many months- never mind a few days-, insanity threatens, and screaming at God and throwing objects was sometimes the only way I survived the immense stress of withdrawal. Many times a sinister voice spoke to me, There's no way out. You'll never sleep again.
During this process, in the middle of 2012, two carcinomas appeared on my back. The fear of death loomed and added to the stress. My doctors had said that I no longer had chronic Lyme disease, and after eight years of battling infections, now there was this. God isn't healing you the sinister voices whispered to me daily. I fought them tooth and nail but I felt like I was drowning.
In the meantime, well-meaning friends admonished me to speak positive words over myself and meditate upon God's truths. I tried to stand upon God's promises of healing, but unless you've walked a trial that pulls at every fiber of your emotional, mental and physical strength, you can't know how hard it is to do this. Part of the problem was that I didn't understand the power of God's Spirit to overcome my biochemistry and unbeknownst to me at the time, I also had curses that had been spoken over me that needed to be broken.
Fortunately, God gave me the strength to endure, and He sent a few of His messengers- friends and companions who truly walk in His love- to come beside me and lift my arms up when I could no longer do it myself. One of them is my sweetheart Bill Gonseaux, who daily spoke life into me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and carried me when I couldn't take another step.
His love for me was relentless and untiring- a rare love but a love that abides in those who truly know and live in the love of God. I'd sob my guts out for hours in the middle of the night, and Bill patiently stayed awake with me, consoling me, until peace overcame me and I finally succumbed to a few hours of rest. A couple of close women friends- women who have also endured the trials of Lyme- also stood by me, their love unconditional and non-judgmental.
I think it's difficult for people who have never walked the tragic and difficult journey of chronic disease to fully appreciate or be able to help those who are in the midst of it. A few can, and do, but my experience has taught me that it's better to not expect things from people who haven't been there, done that (or from anyone, really) but to simply cry out to God and ask Him- and believe Him- to bring the help that we need. And there have been times in my healing journey when Jesus Christ was the only One who was there to get me through the difficult times, and in those moments, I experienced sweet companionship with Him and that love was enough to keep me going.
The love of Bill pulled me through the trial of insomnia, as did the love of my friends, and one of my physicians, Dr. Cowden, whom God also sent to help me out of the mess.
God forgave me my rages, because that was His promise through Jesus Christ- to forgive us of all of our mistakes. In His mercy, He even increased my prayer anointing to see others healed and enabled me to write a book, though it was the most difficult project I ever completed because I was so tired.
I have been sleeping now for nearly six months and I feel the dawn of a new day approaching. After eight years of sleep medications, I am now off all drugs and averaging 7 hours of sleep most nights. I really need 8, but after what I went through, I'm not going to complain. I'm functional, sane and hopeful.
Love got me through, but six other things helped me to cross over into the land of sleep and sanity. These were:
1) Amino acids. I described these in my last post. Amino acid therapy is an art, and I learned that my brain and body desperately needed dopamine and serotonin to make up for what had been depleted by the drugs and years of chronic illness. The aminos provided those. Unlike drugs, they gave my brain the nutrition that it needed, rather than robbing from it.
2) Clear Mind neurofeedback device. www.clearmindcenter.com. I used this device at night to slow down my brain waves, so I could fall asleep easier. It helped me to wean off the drugs. The Clear Mind therapy device is expensive at $3,500, but if you suffer from insomnia, you could try a less expensive device, such as a sound-light machine, which also slows down brain waves, but via a different mechanism. These cost hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars. Tools For Wellness sells these devices. http://www.toolsforwellness.com/light-sound-machines.html
3) Prayer. When I was at my worst, I sent out a prayer request to 50 people, asking them to pray daily for me for a month. It was a tall order, but I needed reinforcements and I stuffed my pride because my life was more important than what people thought of me. Besides, I realized I wasn't fighting jut a physical battle, but a spiritual one.
4) Adrenal gland support. My adrenals had become severely weakened by stress, and I would awaken during the night with hypoglycemia. Adrenal desiccated from Standard Process helped to rebuild my adrenals, along with stress management strategies.
5) PEMF therapy. An iRMS mat helped to balance my energy at night, so that I could fall asleep easier. I used this after 9 months of Clear Mind therapy.
6) Inner healing and deliverance ministry. God sent me a very gifted deliverance minister, who discerned curses over my sleep- generational as well as from people around me. She also discerned that a fragmented, childlike part of me was associating sleep with death, and she prayed for that part of me to be healed. It was after receiving this ministry that I experienced the biggest breakthrough in my sleep, after two years of seeking solutions.
It's interesting because I think many of us tend to see problems as either having a biochemical, emotional, or spiritual cause, when in reality, all three can be at work. But spiritual forces of darkness would like us to chase only the natural causes of symptoms and have us think that we suffer because of a drug withdrawal, or an infection, or an environmental toxin. Often though, spirits use physical problems as a springboard to induce problems in the spiritual realm. Or vice versa.
I would have never guessed that curses were keeping me from rest, because I also had obvious evidence of a physical problem. Besides, I don't have enemies that I'm aware of. When I learned that I was being actively cursed by somebody or something out there, I was hurt. It's beyond me how somebody who doesn't know me could hate me and wish evil upon me- but then I remembered that the curse wasn't personal- and that the battle we wage is a spiritual one, and Satan has his army of folks who are sent to work against God's purposes, too.
Thankfully, the battle against good and evil was won at the Cross. When Jesus Christ died, He made a purchase for our freedom from sin and sickness, and gave us all that we would ever need for an abundant life and godliness, if we would just surrender our lives to Him.
But I've learned that it takes time to learn how to walk in the power of the authority that He's given us, and to understand how deep, and wide, and long His love is for us. The book of Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 17-19 states: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV).
So in the end, it was my relationship with God that moved me from the difficult place that I was in, to a better place where I now stand. I cried out to him, and even through my anger, rebellion and anguish, He heard me.
If you suffer from insomnia, or other health challenges, I encourage you to cry out to Him, in faith, trust and surrender- believing He will respond, and that it's not because of who you are, but because of who He is, that He hears you.
Sometimes the battle for freedom isn't won overnight, and it's easy to forget that our pain and suffering isn't just a product of a problem in the natural realm. Yet, by seeking God, He will give us the tools we need to walk out that freedom. Perseverance, trust and surrender is what it's really all about. God says in the Bible, in the book of Ephesians, Chapter 6, verse 12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (NIV).
The battle is spiritual as much as it is physical and emotional, but thankfully, "I (we) can do all things through Him who strengthens me (us)." (Phil 4:13). Amen, Jesus.