Go The Fuck To Sleep: A Lullabye to My Maniacal, Stubborn Brain

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While I wish I was clever enough to think of that title or write this page, this comes from the book by Adam Mansbach (read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson) and is worth a read…and I don’t even have kids.

Look,  I believe in the lyrics “you can’t always get what you want ”  but I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around “But if you try sometime you find You get what you need.”  That’s where I’m going to call bullshit. my body my brain my legs my stomach -they all know that I want to sleep.  That I  don’t just want it, I need it.  And I assure you I am trying as hard as I can.

it’s like my brain is laughing at me as I try breathing exercises, body relaxation, mocking me for my attempts. I even tried doing visualization, which I think is a bunch of shit, and I tried to lock each of my problems  into boxes with keys so that my brain would be empty.  I don’t want to give away the ending but let’s just say I’m still awake.  I’m on day four of this wacky insomnia bout. I was able to lie down and close my eyes and relax my body, but my brain still wouldn’t let me sleep. and so now I’ve been in bed for three hours: I’ve tried reading, writing, (I don’t want to do anything too important since I’m not sure I’m fully awake,)  i’m doing my best to avoid medication but I don’t know what else to do and I don’t know why I can’t have this.

maybe it’s  my depressions’  childish way of telling me to fuck off since I slept so much when I was depressed and now I can’t seem to slow down enough to enjoy a deep dream sleep.

even when I do fall asleep I’m usually half awake, directing my dreams and getting up every few hours. it’s just this process of falling asleep  that I find so fucking frustrating.

it’s such a simple idea. I remember as a kid I was so good at sleeping. I could sleep anywhere, I slept through anything, it was a problem because I was just so damn good at it. it doesn’t make sense to want something so bad, to try so hard, to even deserve it and still eyes open brain thumping racing twirling, body aching, and wanting.

there’s usually a point when I decide whether to keep fighting or just watch TV until I pass out at three or four in the morning.  This is my current conundrum that I’d really prefer not to have.

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Conversations with My Insomnia

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I’m the one on the far left – I wear a lot of black. And while my hair is brown now, who knows – if I don’t sleep long enough, maybe my hair will turn white?

Insomnia begets itself. This was my sixth night. I’m running out of patience…or maybe that was three days ago and I’m just too tired to be angry anymore.

At least if I couldn’t sleep, but I could get work done and be effective, I could see a small positive to this aggravating problem. Or maybe if I didn’t have a mental illness that made it really important to get sleep, it’d be okay. I mean, there are people that have full lives on 4 hours of sleep. I used to idolize them. Now I just hate them with a deep, dark, irrational jealousy.

But the real bitch of it all is that insomnia’s such a bully. Here’s just a sampling of a few of her dick moves in my battles with sleep. Note: I never seem to get a word in edgewise:

Insomnia: “Oh, you want to sleep? Did you just close your eyes? How cute, with your little mask. I should totally Instagram this. But wait – you’re not forgetting your schedule tomorrow, are you? You think you’re going to be able to get to the gym? Are you going to fuck something up? Oooh, what if you wake up depressed? Or sad? Or fatter than now? But seriously, you don’t want to be tired or you’ll really fuck it up even more than you were most likely going to. Wait, did I interrupt you?”

Insomnia:”How adorable is this. You are trying mindfulness exercises? How’s that ‘breathing’ working out for you? Are you sure your toes are really relaxed? You know, you should really do this better – this whole relaxing, meditative shit. ‘Cuz you suck at it. Maybe you should meditate on that for a bit.”

Insomnia: “You think you’re drifting off thanks to the meds? Well don’t forget you’re sleeping alone, running out of money, still not in shape, and your kitchen is a mess. But seriously, think of ocean waves – that should help with your failing life. Quick! In about half an hour, that sleepy feeling is going to wear off and if you’re not asleep by then…well then you just wasted a very expensive Xanax, you pill-popping loser.”

Insomnia: “Did you fall asleep?! Well I’m going to have you continue your conversation in the dream out loud until you realize you are speaking to yourself in your room and wake yourself up. (And then continue the conversation until you finish your sentence because you clearly were passionate about the argument you were making.) Maybe I’ll even have you physically get out of bed in the middle of your dream, half-awake, and then once you’re up, have you forget what you needed or why.” (snickers…)

Insomnia: “Okay, you got to sleep. Kudos. Let’s see here…yup. Here’s a dream where everyone is yelling at you for something you didn’t do and for some reason no one is listening. And you can’t apologize, and you can’t fix anything, and you still don’t get why everyone is mad. Are you catching the theme that you suck and no one likes you? Okay, just checking. Enjoy.”

Insomnia: “You think you are dreaming, don’t you? Then why did you just make him come back to talk to you? Are you actually trying to ‘replay’ that ‘scene’ again? You know you are totally awake and directing this dream, backseat driver. There’s no REM in that but enjoy what we here in the sleep world call ‘daydreaming.’ Oh, and even though you are directing the dream, he’s still not going to come back and tell you he likes you. Sorry if I ruined the ending – but was it really a surprise? Yeah, that’s called throwing shade.”

Insomnia: “You think you’re asleep? Oops! Well, it looks like you have to go pee. Careful not to wake up. But hey, while you’re peeing, don’t forget this list of things you might fuck up. Ahem, number one…”

Insomnia: “Oh shit! Wake up! Wake up! Are you up?! Syke – I totally got you! It’s only 4am and now you are wide awake. Muhaha, bitch.”

Insomnia:  “Girl, you really should get to sleep. It’s really not a big deal. You know you want to. I know you love sleep, and hey, from what I hear, sleep loves you. After all, aren’t you about to take on a shitload of responsibility when you go to London? You better be awake for that. It would be so sad to see you squander all your money just because you need your ZZZZ’s.

Insomnia: “Oh and P.S. You look worse than shit. There is no concealer that can fix that mess. Maybe you should become an extra – I mean, zombies are really ‘in’ right now and you would really help cut costs – no makeup needed! I’m just trying to be helpful.”

See, she’s a total bully. But damn, she’s good.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

So I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I have had sleep problems forever. When I was little, I slept so deeply, I wet the bed till I was inappropriately old to be doing it. (Thank goodness that passed.) Then, I became a horribly difficult sleeper – everything woke me. With the depression, I would be able to sleep 18 hours one week, and then only 3 the next week. Besides, depressive sleep is a different kind of sleep – it’s deep and hard, but it’s sad and painful.

I try to sleep. My eyes are closed and I am in bed. But falling asleep requires drugs (of which I have tried an assortment – let me tell you about those side effects!) and then I have difficulty staying asleep. Sometimes I close my eyes telling myself, “ok, we are going to relax and get some rest, girl” and I open my eyes and 5 hours have passed. So that means I wasn’t really asleep for those 5 hours. A lot of times, I’m basically directing my dream – almost like I’m above it, directing a play. When I do fall asleep, I have anxiety nightmares (where for some reason someone is always yelling at me and won’t let me explain – yeah, you have to ask Freud about that…) and I wake myself up yelling or continuing the conversation. Funny thing about that is that I’m aware I’m awake but I still feel the need to finish the thought. I crack myself up. Sometimes, I get up to use the bathroom, and in the 20 seconds it takes me to get back to bed, start worrying about the day ahead and if I’ll be tired when I wake up and if I’m actually sleeping. Needless to say, sleep has become the enemy.

And no one can say I don’t try. I have an eye patch and noise machine. I only sit in my bed when it is nighttime. I do not nap. I only drink one cup of coffee at 8:30am every day, otherwise, no other caffeine. I wake up at the same time every day and “go to sleep” every time at night. I stop looking at computers and phones about 30 minutes before I go to sleep. I try to read, listen to classical music, sometimes if the meds have kicked in, I have the patience for a mindfulness exercise. The one error I make is that I sometimes eat too late and that makes it difficult some nights to lie down. But that is a whole other issue all on its own.

Evidently there is this new form of sleep therapy called CBTI and it’s what it sounds like: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. (Check out the program and procedures.) They try about half the things I already do, and something I think is cool called “sleep restriction” which sounds awful but effective. Given my doctor would really like to get me off my sleeping meds, and the impact my lack of sleep has on my mood and my day, she really thinks this might be helpful.

Of course, my insurance doesn’t cover it. So now I have to decide whether it is worth the money to pay out of pocket. Does anyone else find therapy and programs really difficult to value? How do I know what’s too much for a program or a treatment? I mean, there’s no real comparison tools. Plus, with mental health, if it works, it seems like it was worth all the money in the world. And when it doesn’t, even $25 seems like a horrid waste that could have gone to buying some groceries.

I just remember that I used to love sleep. I loved that really deep, dead to the world sleep, where your body just felt like a rock. I remember as a child, I also liked dreams. They just felt so real even though they were so odd. Now my dreams feel so real that I carry their emotional impact around with me all day – and I don’t have good dreams anymore, I have terror dreams, which I believe are called night terrors or nightmares.

I’m not a morning or a night person, and without sleep, I’m not really a midday person either. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just know I’m tired and the idea of blissful sleep is such a distant idea, it feels like merely a dream I used to have.

this too shall pass?

Something’s wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can feel it deep within. I have decided to play this one out…see if I can wait it out until it gets bored and subsides. I know it’s a futile attempt.

This mounting, ominous presence has made my torrid relationship with sleep even worse. I want to outlast my inevitable sleep – a looming fear that begins when I wake up. Every decision I make throughout the day, I wonder “will this help tonight or make it worse?” I’ve become paralyzed. Complacent. Sad. Scared. I remember six months ago, when the medication was in full effect, still waking up scared, but excited too. I didn’t know if I would have a good or bad day, but I wanted to try. I miss that feeling.

For the past year, I have tried really hard to develop a sleep regimen to lessen my insomnia. I have to be in bed by 11, take my pills to help me sleep, and read, not watch tv. I turn on my fan and my noise machine, prep my eye mask, and as soon as I feel my eyes begin to tire, I turn off the lights and wait for my dreams or nightmares to come – I’ll take what I can get. But now, I feel a panic inside as I start to wash my face and begin my process for bed. I brush my teeth and I start to think about my day, my life, what lays in store for me once I get underneath the covers – the thoughts that will consume me no matter how much white noise I use to try and block it out.

I tried to avoid dealing with this panic for a few weeks by staying up until I was exhausted and over-medicating myself with relaxants. The problem was, I woke up painfully exhausted, spending the day with a headache, frustrated and sad, and unless committed to someone else, canceling all of the things I use to keep myself above the tow of depressive thinking because I was just too fucking tired.

Before I fell asleep last night, I reviewed the day. I did not get any errands done. I did not do any homework. I did not contact any friends. I did not do any cleaning. I did not go to the gym. I did not shower.

I opened the book I have attempted to read with little interest, and noticed the age on my hand: veins, dry skin, worn down knuckles. I am not a child anymore even though my life is like one. In therapy, we talk about trying to volunteer one day a month; we discuss learning who I am and who I want to be; what could make me happy; why I have so much hate and detest for everything I am. I have barely maturated past the emotional age of 15, but my age hasn’t. And I started to cry.

I cried for how little I have accomplished. I cried for the potential my life has and had that is slowly and constantly draining away. I cried for the exhaustion of fighting this disease even with medication. I cried for the craving I fight every day not to self-harm, to punish myself. I cried at how long I have been fighting this and how when each day passes, opportunities lessen. I cried because I am so painfully lonely. I cried because I never wanted to make it past 30 for this very reason. I’m getting older, but I’m not moving forward and my life is passing me by – unlived.

I cried because I’m losing hope in myself that I can be saved.

I woke up this morning, and did not want to get out of bed. Once I got out of bed, there would be choices to make, and I knew already that I wasn’t going to make the ones I wanted. And I knew that that was my fault. Maybe this weakness has been triggered by events beyond my control but I haven’t been fighting it, at least not enough.

Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and find the power to push past my fear. Maybe it’s just a phase in the process. Maybe it’s just a down time, “like all people have.” But maybe it won’t, and I’m scared, and I’m sad; and I’m just so fucking tired.

The Freak Out Ferris Wheel: Why I’m Not Sleeping Right Now

Well, boys and girls – good news! You can take the chemical depression out of the girl, but you can’t take the catastrophic tornado of anxiety, doubts, fears, and failures out of her brain – especially right as she gets into bed.

This past week I’ve just been so tired. And out of it too. More so than usual since I’m a natural airhead. But today, for example, I sat at a light, irritated that I had to wait, until I realized it was a stop sign. I’ve gotten off at the wrong exits, blanked on basic information, and can’t remember what day it is and my tasks unless I look at my calendar throughout the day.

I’m starting to break out in mini-rashes all over, and I’m getting sores on my tongue. They go away overnight, but I think it’s stress. Like the constant headache that has become my companion as of late. Or my “oldie but goodie” OCD-habits that are low energy.

I’m also really losing track of time – sometimes it feels like it’s been three hours and it’s just been 30 minutes but other times I swear not much time has gone by and bam – there’s those three hours. Usually I lay out my clothes and items I need for the next day the night before but I just don’t have the energy. I actually have dishes still in the sink. Which, for me, is not a good sign.

Look, if you asked me what was wrong, could I list it out for you? Sure. Can I tell you why each thing is anxiety-inducing? Have a seat. But I can’t seem to find relief. During the day, my thoughts are mostly a mosh pit inside my head. It’s loud but unclear. And even when I try to quell the chaos, I can’t focus long enough to figure out what’s upsetting me.

In the past, when a situation created anxiety or doubt in me, I knew there were two to three potential outcomes but just ignored the positive one. Now, I see the positive one, but it doesn’t soothe me. I keep waiting to feel awake, to feel a bit of clarity – good or bad.

I’m having negative urges. I’m not going to act on them. I’m honestly too tired to deal with the process, and then the ramifications of doing it. Plus, my body and mind seem to be falling apart all on their own without my help.

I’ve tried to help myself by doing a few things. My therapist and psychiatrist are both fans of mind maps and I used them when I was planning on moving to London and they were super helpful. I made them for things I have to do and things I want to do to see if I could help my mind separate my anxiety and realize that I really didn’t have that much on my plate, I was just allowing my future possibilities on the plate, so it was feeling overwhelming. I also tried to list out my feelings, list out the things that were panicking me, list out things I am grateful for. I really gave the lists an honest effort and I hate those things, so I swear I’m trying. If you haven’t caught the vibe of this post yet, none of these things have worked.

And each night, it gets worse. I know getting into bed that I am entering into a realm where things can get bad real fast. It’s amazing how terrifying going to sleep can be. Besides the constant frustration of not sleeping well or ever feeling rested or knowing if I will sleep that night or not, my bed, which should be a safe haven of comfort and relief, is where my calm, cool demeanor goes to die.

My anxiety is morphing. It’s growing. It’s becoming…more complex. Instead of just being scared of an event coming up, I’m just feeling nauseous and panicked about “everything.” That vagueness is my demise. And all of this leaves me exhausted. Like, I can’t shut my brain off, but it hurts to hold my head up.

The chemical depression might be gone but I better nip this anxiety in the bud before I start falling backwards and start tumbling down into a descent I just don’t have the energy to fight.