Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tossing and Turning

I have never been much of a sleeper. As a baby, I don't think I slept through the night until I was a 18 months old (yes all of you mothers out there can promptly faint in horror), and as a small child, I had tremendous trouble napping any time I was going to be out late (Yankee game, theater, etc.) although nowadays I'd personally like to adopt a European culture that involves wine with lunch and siestas daily. But that's another post.

I first developed insomnia in 6th Grade. Yes - you read that right. 6th Grade. I was probably 11 or 12 and the way I recall it (because truth be told the way "I recall things" is not always the "way they actually happened") mom let me stay up an extra 30 minutes one Monday night to watch Kate and Allie. I watched TV instead of reading (which was my usual pre-bedtime ritual) and then I couldn't sleep. And then I was up until all hours and of course at that age, insomnia is nothing but panic inducing terror. Scratch that - insomnia is panic inducing terror at any age. Anyways, one sleepless night turned into another turned into another turned into me going to see a quack doctor to solve the problem which turned me into a sleepwalker (hey - at least I was sleeping) which turned into me no longer going to see said quack doctor which turned into me needing a note on our 6th Grade trip to Blairstown telling Ms. Melvoin and Sra. Muslin that I suffered from insomnia. File in Twitter under #highmaintenancemuch.

Eventually the insomnia ended and I moved on and started sleeping again. But over the years it's shown its ugly face on occasion - usually during times of extreme stress - and every time it leaves me feeling the same way (besides utterly exhausted): panicked and frustrated.

Well - guess who recently decided to pay Country Girl a visit? That's right - my good buddy THERE WILL BE NO REST FOR YOU MISSY! Sigh. And oh yeah FML.

Once upon a time, I tried to make peace with insomnia. As an adult I simply said: Fuck it. If you don't sleep 1 or 2 nights - no big deal. You work from home (when you're not on the road traveling). You've got autonomy with your schedule (i.e. you can sleep in late assuming you don't have a call or meeting in the morning). If you're up from 2am - 5am - who gives a shit? Well kids, that's all fine and dandy 1 or 2 nights but try multiple nights. In a row. Eventually exhaustion overcomes you and all you want to do. Is. Sleep. Like Rip Van Winkle.

It's stress related. No doubt. I won't argue there. I am under tremendous stress right now and there's simply nothing I can do about it. And whenever I wake up in the middle of the night to pee (because OMG I drink 14,000 beverages a day AND I have a teacup sized bladder made of tissue paper) I crawl back into bed and then I start to think. About work. About life. I write blog posts in my head (this one has been written several times). I think about family. Friends. I plan. I worry. I fret. My cat decides that I am the perfect human jungly gym and climbs all over me. Whatever it is - the voices in my head WON'T SHUT THE FUCK UP and suddenly I've been awake for 20 minutes and then I become hyper conscious of that fact and then I start to panic and then 3 HOURS LATER I AM STILL AWAKE.

I've tried herbal tea. Warm milk. Turkey (for the tryptophan). I bought some kind of herbal sleep spray at Earth Fare. The woman assured me that 2 - 3 squirts when I woke up and I'd be back asleep in 10 minutes. I said: Don't tell me that because if I DON'T fall asleep in 10 minutes I'll panic and feel like an asshole a failure. She told me: Ok - 15 minutes tops. She lied. I've tried counting backwards from 100. Meditating. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Nothing. Works.

100 years ago (which was the last time I suffered from THIS SOUL-SUCKING PLAGUE) I got a prescription for Ambien. It worked. Kinda. But the thing is, my problem isn't falling asleep. These days I crawl into bed at 9:30, read 2 pages of my book, and promptly conk out. Nope - it's the whole "waking up in the middle of the night and then not being about to DROWN OUT THE EXTREMELY LOUD VOICES IN MY HEAD" thing. That's the problem. And popping an Ambien at 3am doesn't help. It only leaves me feeling hungover and even more tired when I am up three and a half hours later.

The same girl who assured me that spraying a combination of aesculus hippocastanum ("relief from repetitive thoughts"), helianthemum nummularium ("adds courage and presence of mind in the face of adversity"), clematis vitalba ("helps give focus when you are not grounded in reality"), impatiens glandulifera ("helps you cope calmly and patiently with irritating problems or people"), prunus cerasifera ("helps you act rationally and think clearly with a calm and balanced mind when you feel you are losing control"), ornithogalum umbellatum ("softens the impact of shock or fright") and 27% alcohol (oh wait - that's listed as an inactive ingredient) would knock me out the same way Benadryl does, also suggested that my problem might be my liver (Hah!). Seriously though - if you believe in Chinese medicine your liver is where you hold all of your anger and hatred and in general all the negative crap in your life and from 2am - 4am is when your liver dumps. So I guess at 2am all of the negativity I cling to goes coursing through my body and that's why I am so fucking tired. If that's the case:


So yeah. I am tired. More like exhausted. I don't remember the last time I slept through the night on consecutive nights. I think the day I flew to NY and back in the same 13-hour period, exhaustion won the battle and my body bitchslapped my overactive mind but in general, these days, nothing helps.

The way I see it, I have 2 choices: drugs or find someone to hit me repeatedly over the head with a croquet mallet. And frankly, neither is appealing.

Tell me darlings: what keeps you up at night?


AndreAnna said...

Hey, if it's your liver, I say you drown the bitch in vodka.

Seriously though, sorry you're dealing with this. It sounds like it really sucks. Mike used to be on a night shift and would have a hard time sleeping during the day. The doctor suggested a melatonin spray since his clock would be messed up. Maybe worth a shot?

Or get to the root of the stress by massage? acupuncture? that kind of stuff.

Ciel said...

Based on my personal experiences of no sleep ever without drugs and how many of my female friends also seem to face nightly insomnia, I have often wondered how many women all over the world are not sleeping at any one time and how much wonderful stuff we could accomplish if we could just combine all the energy we are now using fretting about not sleeping.

his_girl_friday said...

Well, you might not be able to sleep, but you've written my new favorite sentence:


Nenette AM said...

Beautiful use of the word "stabby". And yeah, I feel your pain about the voices. I get them too.

Have you used melatonin pills?

Beth Fish said...

Am sending you my children since you are up anyway. I've slept through the night maybe 30 times in the past four years so I feel you baby.

Nancy said...

In the past business money woes woke me up in a cold sweat at night. But last winter when we were really living hand to mouth, I started sleeping through the night - go figure. Now nothing keeps me from going to sleep or back to sleep. I even look at the clock now and say "oh 2:30 ok" and go back to sleep.
However, my b.i.l, his mother and sister all have very severe insomnia and he'll go for a week only sleeping 2-3 hours. He's taken a variety of things. With varying results. Good luck!

John Galt said...

Be comforted in knowing that you have several friends - those who must bear the burden of some of your less appealing personality traits when sleep eludes you - that are more than willing to vlounteer for mallet duty - Me included.
I would recommend a sleep study. You know, a clinical evaluation by medical personnel trained to identify and resolve such problems. I've had two studies done and, while I don't always sleep the sleep of angels, it has made things much better - I don't fall asleep at red lights anymore! When you're done running through the gamut of "asian sleeping sprays" and urban myth remedies you may want to take a shot at identifying the problem through the use of proven scientific techniques.

Forgive me, I forgot who I was talking to.... Pass me the God Damn mallet.