18 Sept, 2020

Tonight is bad. I went to bed at 6:30pm, because I was so tired. I’m not supposed to do that; I’m supposed to stick to a schedule. I took 10mg Ambien, and .25mg clonazepam, and still have been up and down since. According to my Fitbit,

My fitbit sleep graph relevant to the time discussed.

This is what my sleep looks like so far. Out of almost 6.5 hours in bed, my Fitbit says I slept for about 5.25 of them. The indigo bars are normal sleep. The red stripes are wakefulness. The light blue stripes are “restlessness.” I’m not sure what that means, but it doesn’t count as sleep. It is now after 2am. The 5.25 hrs. was actually pretty good for me. There have been plenty of nights I spent 6 hours in bed, and slept only 3.5 of them.

That’s the bad part. It seems I’m done sleeping for the night. At 1:15, I took 20mg melatonin rapid-release, and 5mg Ambien, but I couldn’t fall back asleep. I’m feeling slightly dizzy from the Ambien, but it isn’t putting me to sleep.

I can’t decide whether to lie back down, or whether to see if the dizziness shakes off in a little while, and then maybe take the dog for a walk.

I’ve got plenty to do; I need to fix the washing machine so that I can do laundry, which is piling up. I seriously need to vacuum, and change the cat’s litter. I need to change the water in the aquariums. If I do those things now, then I’ll be free to take a nap during the day, if I’m really falling down later.

“How hard can it be not to nap, and just to wait until evening, and maybe go to bed a little early?” If you’ve never been sick from lack of sleep, I can see how you’d think that. But I’m not talking about the itchy eyes and nagging headaches and heavy hands and feet that come with missing two or three hours of sleep.

The sickness that goes with sleeping three hours a night, a week at a time, is much worse. It’s nausea, or actual vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain; headaches that are more than nagging, but border on migraines. Your joints ache; your muscles are tight, especially through the shoulders; your vision is blurry. Sometimes you see double. Food tastes odd. Your hands shake. Sometimes your whole body shivers. You drop things, you trip over things. Periodically, your heart races with no apparent provocation.

If you told me for a fact I would never sleep more than three hours a night for the rest of my life, I would kill myself, and it would be a perfectly rational decision.

I probably shouldn’t say things like that; I never know how they’ll come across. I don’t suppose any two people think exactly alike, but it seems that most people can assume that other people will “get” them. I can’t. More than once I have had to explain an off-handed remark to a high school counselor, or mental health professional.

My thought process is hard to explain to other people. Unfortunately, you can’t literally give someone a piece of your mind, or I’d have little sample packs at the ready. My thoughts come so fast sometimes, language can’t keep up with them. I think in pictures that pile on top of sounds, that wash over tactile memories, that are on top of other sensations I understand perfectly well, but have trouble describing to other people, who watch from a distance. I am also capable of worrying with equal ferocity about global warming, and the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow. I can’t sleep, because my head is overpacked. Someday, the seams will burst, and I don’t know what I’ll do then.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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