I have been struggling to write. For the first time since the start of Sparkle Ellie, I’m struggling to flippen write, to dig deep and find inspiration to produce an interesting or semi-interesting topic and blog. I’m tired and frankly slightly depressed. I find myself avoiding even thinking of the blog out of guilt and feelings of dis-ease. I just feel like I have nothing to say and nothing to give. All of which started a few months ago, when I got my first bout of insomnia.
I have always generally been a good sleeper. Not a drink a cup of coffee after 5 pm type of good sleeper. But sleepless nights would be few and far between and usually tied to some stressful event like having to present results to the external board or having to attend an important, super early event or an exam or something. Nope, none of these applies.
Insomnia that hit me wasn’t just a sleepless night but fully-fledged kick-your-front-teeth-in type of ping-awake insomnia. It is the type of sleeplessness that has you awake in bed for hours …sometimes the whole night. You’re not fully awake. But you certainly aren’t sleeping. And the next day you zombie-walk around at work. Overeat. Over-caffeinate. But nothing works. Then you repeat the same. No matter how tired you are, you can’t sleep. No matter what you seem to try, it’s futile. After a week of which, you become aggressively desperate to sleep and rest.
People are full of useless advice at this point. And unless you have experienced genuine insomnia you just don’t get the desperation and how crap it is. It is not a drink-a-cup-of-chamomile-tea and read-a-book-before-bedtime type of sleeplessness. It’s not a take-a-bath-and-relax type of ball game. It’s not even a drink a herbal sedative and beddy-by-times come to you, situation. It is a full-frontal-aggressive monster that needs active combatting to conquer.
I am going to stop explaining now – you either get it or you don’t.
What worked for me:
In case you are reading this, and you have insomnia gnashing its teeth at you, here is some unsolicited advice aka what worked for me.
#1 Pills. After visiting a doctor who pointed me to a psychiatrist, I got sleep-inducing pills. My big monster was falling asleep; not staying asleep. These pills help you fall asleep, but you don’t feel like a malformed sloth the next day and the pills aren’t addictive.
In hindsight, I wish I went to a doctor immediately. I would have saved a lot of money, sleep and frustration if I just sought medical help and stopped listening to stupid Dr Google – who is soooooo dead-set against sleeping pills. But not sleeping for months is even worse for your mental and physical health – trust me. Just as a disclaimer before I get trolled into the abyss –I am not saying pills are everyone’s answer but a medical professional can help you find your ultimate solution.
#2 Cut the caffeine. Cutting out caffeine for me also helped. I realised that caffeine made me feel like more of a zombie. So, I switched to caffeine-free coffee and tea – I feel way better for it.
#3 Journaling. Writing down how I felt; how tired I was and my frustrations before bedtime helped.
#4 Reading. With the sleeping tablets reading helped.
What didn’t work for me:
#1 The herbal stuff. I bought three types of herbal sedatives; sleep balm and fragrance; valerian tea and stabilisers. None of it worked for me. And I felt worse the next day. Obviously – I didn’t try them at once and obviously, some people swear by these products – but they didn’t work for me.
#2 Not reading in bed. I was told I am keeping my brain active. I must not read in bed. I tried it. It didn’t work.
#3 Just relaxing and letting go of my thoughts. No comment.
#4 Anything other than sleeping pills.
I am finally sleeping. And waking up refreshed. But the damage is done and I have months of poor sleep to catch-up on. So, I am mind-numbingly exhausted by night time. I am struggling with my creativity and one of my favourite past times – writing. All because I felt shamed by Google, some health professionals and people in society for having insomnia. I was led to believe I am at fault and in the wrong for going through a bout of insomnia. Well – I say never again. I will take action for my wellbeing in future and now – even if it goes against popular opinion. My mental health matters.
Disclaimer: this blog is an opinion piece and should not be substituted for medical advice or good common sense.
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