Lying awake at night is apparently is not when the most rational thoughts occur. This is hard for me as 1. I have lots of awake time at night right now 2. I’m a do-er, so if I’m awake, I want it to be time that is well utilized 3. I don’t like when reason goes out the window.
I have insomnia. This bout is in its 8 month. My struggle with sleeplessness began in senior year of high school and has ebbed and flowed since. This current state is the most severe I’ve ever experienced.
It’s not pretty. Most times, I do not enjoy it. But, I’ve got it, and lately, I’ve got it bad.
So, for all those fellow insomniacs out there here are some of my thoughts and lessons learned. Please do not take this as ‘must do’s’ in order to solve the problem. Rather, look at these as tools to help you through it.
Thoughts and Lessons for the Journey:
1. It’s one night.
Yes, it may be tonight, and yes tonight, it may suck, but in the grand scheme of life, it’s one night. What this means is, it does not have a great bearing on your life. Yes, you may be tired tomorrow, or for a few days, but you will survive.
Part of me hates this thinking because it feels like it is ignoring the severity or depth of the problem. But, my life isn’t over because of this, or fully dictated by the sleeplessness. It does not mean I won’t be able to live the life I want.
So, when I have the bad nights, I remind myself of what it is – just 1 stinkin’ night. And, I try to have some fun with it- i.e. “OH, tonight is the night that I get to blog or read or discover new music or watch TV”. Putting the positive spin on it helps me recognize how minute it is in the overview as well as makes me feel somewhat better about the situation.
2. Don’t be a martyr for the cause.
Yes, I agree it does suck. But, that thinking gets you nowhere, fast. Vent, if you need to, but then lay it down. I hate when a bad night leads to a bad day- but, more often than not, it is me that makes that happen. I will be tired and groggy, but I don’t have to have a bad attitude because I’m not well rested. It’s hard, it’s tough, but it is possible to find some rays of sunshine in the day after a bad night.
3. Say yes to it. Accept it.
Around month 3 of this latest insomnia period, I realized that I might need to start saying “yes, and” to the insomnia.I was quite beaten down by it. I would say that it was infecting my life, as I saw it changing my relationships, my overall happiness, and my choices in life.
This does NOT mean that I had to want the insomnia in my life. Nope, I still prayed, wished, and took actions against it. But, I began to ask for the grace to accept it. Acceptance allowed me to recognize that this was my current state. Understanding this allowed me to relax a bit and not constantly feel that I was doing something wrong since I was not sleeping. The ‘being in this moment’ was a tough, sleepless one. Accepting it meant it was ok to be in this state, despite wishing to not be.
In addition, I wanted, if possible, to let some good come from this expereince. And there has been growth from these dark nights. IE: “Yes, I have insomnia, AND I’m now more assertive/compassionate/patient because of it”
4. Seek help.
There are plenty of good resources out there- too many to name. The important thing is you work with someone you connect with as well as believe in their methodology. I’m pretty medication averse, and avoided it for months. So when the Dr. I was seeing put me on 1, I voiced my concerns, but did take it for the sake of getting through. Then when we had to switch it 2 more times, and at my next appointment he spent the generous amount of time of 6 minutes with me, not to listen to my concerns, I said no way, Jose. I found better care.
If nothing else, seek out someone who will help you walk through this- doctor, friend, therapist. It took me a while to realize that this was suffering, that I needed to call it that and recognize the strength that was in me. I need the support of others to help me shoulder the burden on the days where I just can’t take it. And, we’ve got people out there, so utilize their gifts and ask for their help!
5. It WILL end.
Having experienced long bouts of insomnia before, I would have never have fathomed that I could make it through 8+ months of this intense version. I still can’t believe its not over. I still have moments where I’m torn up by it, wondering how much farther I have to go before its over.
Since I am living it RIGHT now, and its lasted for longer than I’ve imagined, it seems improbable that it will ever end. Right now, its the only life I know- one full of sleepless nights and fatigue.
But, it wasn’t always this way, and I won’t always be this way. I’m not going to believe that I’ll only ever know this exhausted kind of life. Nope. I may not be fully on the mend, but gosh, I’m close. So, I’ll push on through to that better tomorrow. Because it’s out there.
So- take all this for what is is worth. For me, these are the lessons I’m working on and some of what has gotten me through this.
Sweet dreams all- whether they be eyes open or eyes shut.