In the early days of RMS we featured several sleep related posts but it’s been a while since we touched on the issue. Today I’m going to hand over to my sister Hannah who has unfortunately been struggling with insomnia for several years, in the hope you may be able to help.
I can’t seem to pinpoint when my issues with sleep first arose. Perhaps if I could I may have beaten the monster sooner. What I do know is that the bouts of insomnia I have suffered appear to blur into long episodes-where I’m unsure of where a clear head ended and the fuzziness began. Fellow sufferers will talk about the effect it has on their daily lives, both mentally and physically. If insomnia left you feeling ‘a bit sleepy’ the next day I’m pretty sure I could ignore the episodes. The ‘knock you sideways’ effects though are harder to bear. A dizzying combination of nausea, forgetfulness, paranoia and anxiety leaves you washed out and feeling out of control. My dad recently asked me how it feels to live on a few hours of sleep a night? I find it extremely hard to articulate. Perhaps it’s like experiencing life from the outside looking in; behind a sheet of misty glass which you are desperately trying to shift into focus. I’ve forgotten how it feels to wake up refreshed, instead feeling grubby which sounds ridiculous, but it’s a little like being hungover without the enjoyment of the alcohol! I think the trickiest part though is the anger and frustration I have with myself for not being able to do the ‘thing’ that millions of other people find so easy.
I have tried pretty much everything when it comes to tackling insomnia and trust me when I say a hot bath and lavender on the pillow hasn’t solved the annoyance! Acupuncture, hypnotherapy, sleeping tablets, meditation and all the rest do not appear to have touched the sides. I am currently undergoing a round of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I am pinning every last hope on and I’m one hundred per cent focused on nailing this good and proper.
I am conscious this post is sounding woe is me so please forgive me! I’m in the middle of a particularly bad bout but I’m not ill. I have a blessed life surrounded by a fiercely protective crew who get that dealing with insomnia really isn’t nice. I have the privilege of sharing a home I love with a husband who would do anything to be able to push the reset button on this ridiculous habit I seem to have got myself into. I go to work, enjoy a great social life and immerse myself in all the rich experiences life has to offer but by 3pm I know I’m burning out and my body reacts with all the weird sensations I described earlier.
I am writing this as I know what an amazingly supportive community you are here on RMS and I guess this is a bit of cry for help. Where do I go next? Am I missing something? Why do us insomniacs seem to battle against something which should be the most natural thing in the world?
My CBT therapist wisely informed me that there is no such thing as a sleep problem – we are all born with the ability to fall into a rhythm which allows for deep and restful sleep. Clearly as we’ve been doing it since the dawn on time. Instead sleep issues become a symptom of something else – a wider problem which once identified can be dealt with. I’ve had some pretty big things happen in my life over the last few years but my god haven’t we all?! Like thousands of us I hold down a hugely stressful job but I don’t lay in bed worrying about stuff and mulling things over. I lay there reliving songs I’ve heard, conversations I’ve had and listening to an endless chatter which becomes noisier with each passing night.
Has anyone out there suffered long periods of sleeplessness like this? What did you do to calm the noise? I would be so grateful to hear of any strategies you might have used and how you have tackled this weird phenomenon.
Huge love in anticipation, Hannah x
Image by Little Beanies