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
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
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:
Dear Liver: LEAVE ME ALONE. YOU'RE MAKING ME STABBY. WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU? BESIDES THAT NIGHT IN CANCUN ON SPRING BREAK MY FRESHMAN YEAR. AND LAST TUESDAY.
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?