If anyone ever asks me “How do you sleep at night?” after finding out what a scummy human I am, I could easily say “I don’t” without skipping a beat.
I don’t really know if it’s true insomnia or just anxiety. All I know is that I suck at sleeping and I’ve sucked at it my entire life. When I was a kid, I read every single Junie B. Jones book at my friend’s house because I couldn’t sleep a wink at our sleepovers. It’s not that I couldn’t sleep because I was out of my own bed–I couldn’t sleep in there either. In preschool, when the other babies would snuggle up on cots to nap, I would snack and watch Korean soap operas with the grown ups because my parents couldn’t risk making sleep at night any more of a challenge than it already was.
Since childhood, I’ve gone through waves of being able to sleep naturally and though they are magical times, they don’t last forever. I just got out of one of my sleepy waves recently and for the past few weeks being entirely sleepless has been wreaking havoc on nearly every aspect of my life. Maybe it’s like this for everyone, but I wouldn’t know because I’m currently a monster…or maybe I’m always a monster and I’m just blaming a lack of sleep.
Chronically overtired, I’m stupid and confused and unable to relate to any other humans. Simple tasks are impossible. I can’t hear what anyone’s saying over the awful din of exhausted self loathing. It’s a cliche, but it’s a vicious cycle. I can’t sleep because I make my skin crawl, then I act like a creeper because I’m too tired to be a person and then I have to think about what an awful slug I am all night long. Rinse. Repeat.
I probably should be loathing myself. My temperamental insomniac self is ugly, so fucking ugly and temperamental. And just plain mental, completely out of control of my emotions and losing track of time. What’s been happening and where have I been? I’ve been active, but not present in my life. Days ex post facto, I’ll remember saying things I didn’t mean or saying things I did mean but would have never said in my right mind. I’ll replay those moments and shudder.
Perhaps the worst repercussion of hardly sleeping is my complete inability to confront and deal with somewhat serious matters, instead distracting myself with trivialities and minutiae. Rather than figuring out solutions to serious problems and taking care of business, I’ll just work myself into a lather over a boy I haven’t thought about in 5 years. If I make that
a problem or my skin
or my perfectly healthy BMI, then I don’t have to worry about money or my family or my health or anything real.
When I’m not acting out and actively seeking destruction, I just want to apologize on behalf of my existence all the time: I’m sorry I’m like this. Then I feel guilty for the narcissism that’s letting me off the hook–as if recognizing how fucked up I am relieves me of the consequences of acting fucked up. In reality, beating myself up allows me to ignore the fallout of my shortcomings. One issue will be playing in my head until I either can’t bear the pain of it or have gotten bored punishing myself for it. No one else can punish me; I already punished myself. Then I can keep acting fucked up, so I never have to sleep well again.
It’s not that I never ever sleep, I just do so infrequently and poorly. If I do get to sleep at a reasonable time, I’ll be perky and awake by 3 a.m. and if I don’t fall asleep at all, it’ll be 5 a.m. before I can wind down enough to drift off. Unfortunately and embarrassingly, there are some occasions where sleep isn’t too much trouble. I have slumber-parties with friends more often than I’m proud of because it’s so much easier for me to fall asleep next to someone. Last weekend, I had a sleepover in a platonic friend’s bed and didn’t wake up until 2 p.m. Ordinarily, sleeping that late would make me feel like a dirtbag, but I was just happy I got some sleep in. I’d really like to be able to sleep alone like a grown woman.
At this point, I’ve tried a million different possible sleep remedies–from guided meditation to breathing exercises on down…some methods have worked better than others, but none really stick. Accepting sleeplessness and getting fucked up enough to pass out are no longer options: I can’t live like this anymore. I’m going to bring out the big guns–this time I’m going to try.
I’m contemplating the following options:
Pills, pills, pills: I’m talking about prescription pills, because the melatonin/tylenol PM and red wine method is only okay for so long. This is possibly the most effective choice–that is, if I use them safely in conjunction with therapy, but that’s unlikely. Using sleep or anxiety medication is risky for me because I may just abuse them and replace naval gazing with drug induced stupor. Plus, I wouldn’t want to be taking pills forever.
Therapy without medication: Maybe I could deal with some of this anxiety the healthy way. I’m all about the talking cure and genuinely believe almost anyone would benefit from therapy. However, I know that I’m probably just going to try to get pills if I do see a doctor. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a monster?
Homeopathic hippie woo woo: Probably my best option, honestly. In high school, I used to see this Hare Krishna woman who would give me Ayurvedic massages to help me calm down enough to get some shut-eye. Those massages worked like magic. It’s not realistic for me to think I could find/afford another magical Hare Krishna to chant with me and rub me with special oils, but maybe acupuncture combined with herbs (other than herb) or tinctures or god knows what could help me out.
This is just my personal experience with anxiety, insomnia and self hatred, but I’m curious about yours. Can you sleep at night and how do you act when you haven’t slept in days? If you have any methods for dealing with anxiety based insomnia, I urge you to share them with me.
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