Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

“E” is also for effort. Sometimes “easy” isn’t within reach. This morning is one of those times. The weekend, so far, has its ups and downs. My head aches today. My arthritis joined the party before I even woke up this morning. My sleep was restless, disturbed, and filled with strange nightmares of failure and inadequacy, and being tangled in dense sticky spiders’ webs. It was not a restful night.

I remind myself to begin again. To stay open to success. To choose. To choose again. To practice good self-care, to practice self-compassion. To treat myself and my partner well in spite of where I find myself this morning. I breathe. Exhale. Let my shoulders relax (again). I acknowledge my pounding headache, and sip my coffee as if the headache doesn’t matter. Later, I’ll pull myself together into some form similar to an adult human being equipped to handle the needs of the day, and go do those things I’m up to doing. For now, I’m here. Thinking my thoughts. Sipping my coffee. Hoping to one day be a much better version of myself than I was yesterday. (Right now, the bar seem relatively low there, so perhaps I do have a shot at that, in spite of how I feel right now?)

…All too human. The anhedonia and ennui are dragging on me a bit. It’s not as bad as despair would be. I make myself fully consider those words as I type them; this truly could be much worse. Another breath, it becomes a sigh. I exhale slowly, deliberately. I let the feelings come and go, observed but not interfered with. Acceptance and awareness are important steps for change.

My coffee grows cold. My thoughts begin an unproductive spiral. I shake it off. It’s time to begin again.

Damn. Rollercoaster ride of a few days. Crazy. Some lovely on-again-off-again rainy days, which I find generally quite pleasant. Less pleasant is the ebb and flow my anxiety. I had a lovely relaxed weekend with my Traveling Partner – it seems ridiculously far away, now. I’m not certain either of us actually recall it.

My last surviving grandparent died over the weekend. It hit me harder than I expected. I keep making that observation, in various conversations. I’m not sure why I feel I need to explain or excuse my feelings. Grief and grieving are very personal processes. My partner is loving and considerate of my grief. He’s good like that.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

My partner is less loving and considerate of my anxiety; it tends to provoke his, which then causes mine to worsen (seeing him anxious), which, of course, aggravates his (seeing my anxiety increasing) and around we go. He does his best – and his best is pretty good. I’ve been – often right here – “working on” my anxiety for years now. Study. Practice. Consult. More practice. Repeat. It’s hardest on us when we’re both having an experience that is characterized by feelings of anxiety. “Background anxiety” is particularly insidious. I too often feel that I’m managing things skillfully, feeling good…but miss some detail that could predictably be a thing that might trigger his anxiety… and we’re off. My fairly chronic picking at my cuticles, for example, although it is a sort of a “tic”, and hard to shut down or “break the habit”, it functions as a trigger for his anxiety (likely by sending subtle “anxiety signals” to him that suggest I am anxious, myself) – I’ve fought this “habit” for years. It’s nowhere near as terrible as it once was (I can not now imagine what observing that horror show must have been like for onlookers), but I still bite my nails sometimes and pick at jagged cuticles something awful, and often without being aware of it. Yeesh. I could do better. It’s hard, and there are verbs involved, and it is a major bummer to see so little obvious progress over time. I keep at it.

Anxiety and grief. My week, this week. That’s already a lot to take, but on top of that – I woke yesterday from a late afternoon post-crying-over-death nap with a serious case of vertigo. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Do a poor selection of dumb bell exercises? Was it because I was working with the 3D printer on my hands and knees, instead of sitting comfortably and being aware of my posture? Is it viral? Was it doing all the show-and-tell stuff my physician asked for during yesterday’s video appointment? I rose from bed with care, severely dizzy, and fighting the anxiety that comes with the vertigo (hard not to panic, it’s very scary). It soon made me physically ill, and I gotta say, I did not enjoy the experience of cleaning up puke while also still fighting the spinning of the room. I did impress myself, though (less by the quantity and distance I achieved, more the unexpected success with the clean up.) I went back to bed – not much else I could do (literally). I just didn’t have the balance to be doing things. I woke a couple times during the night, still spinning. Managed to make it to the bathroom without an incident. This morning? Not quite as bad, and I worked, more or less as is typical.

Well.. I worked, and I juggled the anxiety. Mine and his. I don’t really know what caused his – maybe mine. For sure a portion of mine is caused by his. It’s a pretty problematic feedback loop that seems solved only by literal distance from each other, at least lately. His tense request is that I do a better job of managing my anxiety. I can’t even argue with that; it’s a reasonable request. “Already on it!” is what I’d like to reply, but don’t want to sound flippant, or dismissive, or in any way take away from his message – which is that he is struggling to feel comfortable and manage his own anxiety, when he is with me. Especially hard when he wants to be with me so very much. I want that too.

My arthritis pain competes with my anxiety for my attention, and with the vertigo continuing to flirt with my awareness from the periphery. Adulting is hard. I sigh and email my therapist to request an appointment time. There are steps to take. There are things I can practice – or practice more. There are things within my power, right now, to do better/differently to care for myself with greater skill. It’s not about “easy” – there are no promises that it will be, and I don’t expect it to be. More failure than success? Comes with the issues being tackled here. Incremental change over time is slow. Anxiety fights back. S’ok. It’s a process. Failure doesn’t truly characterize the journey unless I stop moving forward entirely. 🙂 One step at a time, walking this hard mile. I’m having my own experience – and I feel fortunate that I am also sharing the journey with someone who truly cares about my wellness, and to see me thrive as an individual. More practice? Sign me up. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time for blame-laying, I just want to heal and be well. I’m willing to work pretty hard for that, and willing to do so in the face of literal years of failure and frustration, just to manage some small improvements. I’ve had to be. Is it “worth it”? That’s not really a question I can answer for anyone else.

It’s time to begin again. Again.

A panic attack woke me around 2:00 am. I woke drenched in cold sweat, mouth dry, breathless, chest tight – and brain focused on something somewhat stupid that managed to fall out of my mouth during the work week (that was likely entirely overlooked, and there was no “fall out” or follow-up). It wasn’t a big deal. Simple slip of the tongue. Poorly chosen verbiage, corrected in the moment. My brain, though? Would not let that shit go when it woke me.

I got up for a few minutes. Had a class of water. Took a few minutes for meditation. Went back to bed.

“Anxiety” 2011

No luck. My brain was locked on to that one small error, out of a busy week with no doubt many others that were similarly inconsequential. I distracted myself with math puzzles – that ended up pulling me back to work thoughts again, fairly quickly. I tried imagining a walk in the forest, in great detail. I still ended up back on the work thoughts and this one error, fighting the impulse to make a bigger deal out of it, trying to avoid conflating it with “everything else that went wrong” this week, resisting the temptation to fit it into “a pattern”.

More meditation. My head was kind of stuffy. It occurred to me that if I were having trouble breathing during the night, that could easily have woken me in a panic, a physical feeling of “anxiety”, and a mind filled with whatever bits and pieces were still lingering in my consciousness as my brain did the housekeeping as I slept. I take allergy medication. Try sleep again.

Eventually I slept. I woke a bit groggy, but otherwise it’s been a lovely morning, and I feel fine. I feel settled and calm. It’s a pleasant Friday morning, at the end of a busy week.

A colleague sent me a message during the wee hours of the night, and I see it when I get logged in – she apologizes for a moment of confusion, something “dumb” she said. I don’t even recall the moment. I chuckle over my coffee; it’s a very human thing to struggle with self-doubt, insecurity, anxiety, concern, regret… all the things. We may each be having our own experience – but these experiences are pretty commonplace human experiences. Mix and match – we have more in common with each other than we are truly different.

I sip my coffee. Prepare to begin again.

My week started out pretty rough. My sleep health wasn’t good. Nightmares (again), and disturbed rest. Flare ups of emotional volatility, partially due to the poor sleep, partially due to “whatever” was driving that. I mean, I’m not unfamiliar with my own issues, I know what’s up. Political and legislative attacks on women’s health care options. Political shenanigans (seriously??) regarding basic good sense medical care during a pandemic (the heights of ignorance are astonishing). I’ll admit I’m offended that medicine, medical care, or the healthcare system are politicized in the way that they are. (Although, just being real here, I’m also offended that those are “for profit” industries, too.) Then, on top of the stressors this background crap presents, we’ve got people objecting to ending our endless war in Afhganistan. What the fuck?? I get it, it’s hard watching those media images of terrified people trying to get out of their country – away from war – against limited time, and limited transportation resources. My PTSD flared up hard. Rough. I don’t really want or need to deep dive the details; ruminating on the start of a downward spiral is not especially helpful (for me, now).

I’m okay right now. Yesterday was pleasant, too, and Thursday was better than Tuesday, so… “nothing to see here”. 🙂

The “downward spiral” of a flare-up of a mental health condition isn’t new for folks who deal with it. It’s frustrating. Terrifying. Causes a deep sense of futility and despair. All the work to heal… all the therapy… the expense… the effort… and then… still human. Still capable of suffering. Still wounded. Still struggling. It’s hard. It’s also super real. Are you in it? Sliding down? Scrambling for any possible hand-hold to slow the progression downward? I feel that. I see you.

This time was better, for me. I didn’t slide as far as fast. I didn’t get mired in my own bullshit, blinded and deafened to anything else. I was able to ask for – and accept – help. I was more clear, with my words, about what I was going through, and be more open. I was able to stall the slide – which still kind of wows me, sitting here this morning, with my coffee and my contentment. I’m pleased to acknowledge the very real progress I’ve made that I could not see, sense, or appreciate on Tuesday. Was it Tuesday? Monday? Earlier this week. 🙂

My Traveling Partner was taken by surprise by my flare up. He was a support super star, after the initial chaos rocked him off center. I not only stayed open to being supported – which was hard for me – he also stayed committed to supporting me. I know that couldn’t be easy. Apologies were exchanged, where appropriate, and the love we wrapped each other in was authentic, and deep and abiding.

I guess I’m just saying… don’t just give in to the slide down. Breathe. Take a nap. Drink enough water. Handle your self-care. Walk in the sun. Take a day off work. Get some exercise. Let it pass – it will, eventually, but let that happen. Don’t hang on to the pain and the chaos. Distract yourself from your ancient pain, don’t just sit there picking at the scabs. I mean… I’m no expert, I’m just saying, you have options. 🙂

You’re stronger than you know. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve got this. Begin again. ❤

The path ahead in life often isn’t all that clear. From one day to the next, it can very much feel like forward momentum is unpredictable, chaotic, and fraught with unexpected trail hazards, literal pitfalls, and lacking a map, shit gets… complicated. Practicing healthy practices, particularly those associated with mindfulness, and good self-care, definitely help keep me on the path, but it’s still a journey without a map.

…How do I get from wandering (with purpose) to… orienteering?

I found myself thinking over what kinds of small things motivate me most – those little personal celebrations of milestones and goals achieved that serve to bolster my resolve – and support my resilience. I think about diet and exercise. I think about staying on track to meet various personal and professional goals. I consider meaning, purpose, intention, and will.

The path ahead isn’t always obvious.

Two nights in a row of relatively poor sleep. Brain grinding away on whatever it can’t let go of until the next day. Nightmares (war… pandemic… civil unrest… it’s all a bit much, and it’s finally hit my sleep). Funny thing is, somehow, I’m managing to make use of the chaos and anxiety to prompt some needed self-reflection, and re-assess some values, some goals, some ways of getting from points A to points B, and beyond.

It’s gotten me more serious about healthy exercise, again. I’ve resumed daily walks with more enthusiasm and real joy, and found some fun in my dumb bell workout and step exercises. Honestly? I’d like to be around, and healthy, a long time – and spend that with my Traveling Partner in good health and good cheer. 🙂 I found an exercise challenge app I like, and that’s helpful for a bit of “gamification” to motivate me further. (I’m not linking it, because I haven’t used it long enough to endorse it.) This is something that works for me, at least during an initial “habit building/rebuilding” process. 🙂

…Also… why would I not choose an opportunity to have some fun, at all? Fun is good, right? Joy? Also good, yeah? I’m not feeling like dragging around more misery, or punishing myself for not being good enough to clear some high hurdle I stupidly set for myself. lol I just want to enjoy a sunny day, some fresh air, and the flowers along the way. 🙂 Isn’t that enough to be something worth doing? 😀

Apps come and go. Fitness trackers, too, wax and wane in popularity nearly as often as the moon phases change. I find it rather obviously okay to change with the changing times, and with the changing tools. Change is a thing. People know about it. 😉

Anyway… it’s a lovely day to begin again, to make a choose, to course correct, to choose a new path… to turn the page.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

You are your own cartographer. You get to write your own map. Your results may vary – but they’re yours. ❤ Maybe it’s time to begin again?