Archives for posts with tag: insomnia

I woke up in pain, after a restless and interrupted night’s sleep. Unsatisfying. I definitely didn’t get the rest I need. No obvious cause. I woke around 2 am, my Traveling Partner sleeping beside me. I was uncomfortable, and unable to return to sleep. I felt “over-heated”, even though the room was comfortably cool. I’m well-past menopause, so the obvious “hormones!” battle-cry seems a less than ideal “fit” for the experience. Still… I know what to do about that. I get up, and go out onto the deck for a few minutes, in the cool fresh air. I can almost taste the hint of approaching autumn in the scent of the breeze.

I come back inside to reluctantly face the likely restlessness of the remaining portion of the night. I want to avoid disturbing my partner’s sleep, and crash on the couch, wrapped in a super soft, super fuzzy throw. Comfy. Cozy. I expected to drop off to sleep pretty much immediately.

…I was still expecting that, some time later, quite awake. LOL I didn’t fuss over it. No point. Just adds stress to the experience, which amplifies the feelings of fatigue, later on. I roll over one more time, finding just that utterly comfortable position, and feel my whole body relax, and my mind gently drift off… The alarm goes off almost immediately, once I am really settled into falling asleep once more. I get up with a sigh, as I turn off the alarm clock by feel, in a single motion as I rise from the couch.

Okay, okay; the moments aren’t all easy. The nights aren’t all restful. lol. I do what I can, with the ingredients I’ve got. It’s enough. I can begin again from here, no problem. 🙂

…Lovely weekend, though. 🙂

I keep smiling at my coffee, each time I take a sip. Nothing really wrong with this moment. 🙂 I’m grateful for the day ahead, without interrupting the earliest hour of my morning with work details. Beginning again is enough. Certainly, there is time to finish my coffee. 😉

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I realized I was awake in the darkness, at some point, and once it was definite, and demonstrably no dream, I checked the clock. 2:22 am. I had no idea why I was awake. There was no light. No sound. Even the glow from the paintings that hang in my room had mostly faded. I felt physically comfortable, not too hot, not too cold, not twisted or stiff, not in any substantial amount of pain… Why was I awake? I probably won’t ever know that. I got up briefly, got a drink of water. Peed. Went back to bed, fully expecting to fall asleep again.

Some time later, I was still waiting for sleep to come. 3:43 am. Knowing the alarm would go off at 4:30 am, and knowing that I felt fairly alert, however inclined to sleep I actually felt, the wiser choice would generally be to just go ahead and get up at that point. I also don’t know why I did not do that. I turned over again, cuddled a body pillow, and “tried again”, feeling fairly certain at this point that sleep would not come; the best I could legitimately hope for would be to rest gently, meditate, and let the alarm go off, since I clearly wasn’t getting up.

When the alarm went off it caught me by surprise. I had at some point dozed off, and although I was not deeply asleep, I wasn’t awake. I got up, showered, dressed, all the usual morning stuff, and went to make my coffee. A most unsatisfying night of something that wasn’t particularly restful, and hardly counts as sleep. I’m irked by that; I have a date planned with my Traveling Partner, and want to be awake and alert for a late night. He understands my issues well enough to be comfortable not living with them. lol I don’t let my irritation with the weird night become “a thing” that might wreck my mood. The morning continues to feel strange and surreal. I find myself wondering how much I actually slept, and then find myself finding it weird that I am wondering that… and realize only then that I haven’t actually looked at that yet, this morning, which is… odd. It is a morning of broken routines, then, is it? Of course. It would be.

I sip my coffee, check my fitness tracker, and feel a certain comfort seeing that, all together, I got more than 6 hours of sleep. I can go all day on that, no problem. That’s something.

The morning feels mildly rushed. I am uncertain “where the time went”. I’m probably not moving through tasks and time quite the usual way. Something definitely “feels off”, but since I’ve no idea beyond that sensation what might be amiss, and actually feel generally okay, I let it go. No need to do root cause analysis on “weird”. Not this morning. 🙂

The best bit of the morning so far, has been meditation, watching the sun begin to rise. Calm, chill, quiet time, without struggle or challenge, without interruption. It’s enough to begin the day with new perspective, however weird the night. I’m having my own experience… I knew my results could vary. 😀

It’s been awhile since I was awake in the wee hours. I woke in tears with no recollection why I might be crying. I got a drink of water and ‘checked for monsters’ (walked through the small apartment quietly drinking my glass of water and assuring myself all is well). I went back to bed. That was more than an hour ago. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and the tears just kept sliding across my face. So.

It’s been a long while since I was awake in the wee hours. It wasn’t so long ago that it was a frequent thing, destroying my rest, throwing me off-balance, and fatiguing me well beyond any healthy sustainable point. I’m glad it isn’t every night any more. I’m appreciative that it isn’t even every week; it’s become quite rare… But I’m awake now. Tonight I am not sleeping through the night.

The wakefulness itself causes me no great stress. The feelings of insecurity and doubt, on the other hand, drive anxiety. On top of existing work stress, and common enough life stress,  I add stress in a valued, critically important (to me) relationship that suddenly feels far less secure than I generally take it to be. I am unsurprised that I am awake, or that I am overcome by waves of emotion attached to the thoughts about my experience: sad, insecure, doubtful, angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed… did I mention sad? I did not get out of bed at 3 am to ‘enjoy’ the experience more intensely; I got up to reduce the intensity. I was not finding much success with distracting myself and getting back to dream land lying there in bed. My thoughts kept carrying me back to sad.

There is no miracle pill for sad wakefulness, or the tears that won’t quit at 3 am. There are a great many practices that ease my suffering, though. I get up and do some yoga; the focus on my physical body, and easing physical stress feels good. I drink a glass of water; crying makes me thirsty. I meditate, nothing fancy, no soundtrack, no light – just sitting in the stillness, in the darkness, focused on my breath, no timer – just time. I write. With just a few words in the night, I pause the flood of emotion to look at things from a more abstract observational perspective, giving myself a little distance from the hurting, and a chance to ‘edit the language’ as I see it in text on page instead of lit up boldly in the chemistry of my brain. It actually does make a difference [for me] to take the time to remove or change the adjectives and adverbs, correct the syntax, re-evaluate the thinking. So much easier to do that seeing it in written words [for me]. I read my experience from the edited perspective. I read it again. I am no longer crying.

Tomorrow is a work day. I haven’t set myself up for success there by being awake during the night – but being awake during the night and crying generally has an even less desirable outcome, emotionally. I feel valued to take the time with myself to ease the suffering I am experiencing, however much I can. I am definitely having my own experience. There is no lover here to hold me in the darkness and tell me everything will be okay – and maybe it won’t be. It generally will be, though, for at least some values of ‘okay’.

Small stressors keep piling up. The loss of aesthetic beauty of my wee home. The loss of day-to-day quiet here. The increasing tension and discontent in the workplace. The increasing insecurity and doubt in an important relationship. The lack of personal skill at coping with it when solitude becomes loneliness. The loss of intimacy and physical contact in my every day life. The chaos brought to my life through the exterior work being done in the community – it’s actually stressing me out to see paintings stacked differently for the convenience of contractors, or to see the A/C just sort of …sitting, no good place to store it, and such a small apartment. Lingering bitterness – not over old hurts themselves, but over the lack of being understood, the lack of consideration – or even awareness. I guess this is when I get to put new emotional resilience to the test, and find out whether all of the time and practice invested in emotional self-sufficiency will be enough to survive on. I’d like to thrive. It’s on my list of nice things to do for me. Maybe another time.

I feel very alone right now. Oddly, I notice the ticking clock – and realize there is no additional stress to being aware of the sound of it. I find some comfort in that. It’s a small thing, but it is meaningful that the ticking of the clock does not cause me stress, or anxiety. You know… sitting here in the darkness, at 3:34 am, that’s enough. It’s at least something – it’s incremental change over time. I think I’ll go back to bed.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

I didn’t sleep well last night. Actually, I didn’t sleep last night. I went to bed in the evening feeling fully prepared and ready to sleep. I even fell asleep with little effort. For about 2 hours. Then I woke, and dozed, and woke again. I got up around 12:41 am and prowled the house quietly. Then back to bed; there were no monsters. I woke again shortly after 2:00 am, did the trip to the bathroom. Back to bed. Heard my partner wake and move about the house. Another sleepless being. Shortly after, I got up, and got more water. I kept trying to sleep. I kept dozing off, waking, and not sleeping. I figure I may have gotten about 3.5 hours of sleep. I am not rested. I am not alert. I am highly volatile, and likely to be easily irritated. I’m not making predictions or making assumptions; this is my now.

When I got up with the alarm and recognized my state of being for what it is, I made a point of alerting my partner – still awake, himself – and letting him know I’m high risk for tantrums and nastiness this morning. He shifted from delight at seeing me, to concern and tender caution. He made it easy to retreat to my own space, where it is at least quiet, and unlikely that someone will haplessly piss me off, without remembering the fragile state I’m in.

The weekend is a blur. I took yesterday off in observance of Veteran’s Day, so that someone else on my team could take it off today, comfortably. We’re both veterans. I will work today, fuzzy-headed, slowed-down from lack of sleep, irritable, and doing my best to be patient with random people thanking me for my service. (The temptation is always to explain very carefully why it wasn’t worth it, and how the price is too high; I already know they don’t understand, and I generally don’t bother.) They mean well, and generally in the moment they say the words, they are indeed attempting to communicate something heartfelt and important to them. I try to accept it, graciously. I can’t actually offer them absolution, if that is what they are seeking. There is no way to ‘validate their parking’ ethically on matters of war.

I can hear the family, on the other side of the door, talking and laughing. I feel a surge of pointless anger. I’m so tired. The anger isn’t rational, and there is no blame-worthy object at which to direct it. I didn’t sleep. I fell asleep dozens of times, never achieving a deep enough sleep to survive foot steps in the hallway, coughing, toilets flushing, trucks passing by, occasional nose-blowing, drawers, doors, or the noises of the pipes cooling, or whatever it is that pipes do that causes that knocking they sometimes do. These are all everyday sounds. Generally they are not sufficient to keep me awake, or to wake me. Last night I wasn’t sleeping well. Returning to a calm resting place wasn’t too hard. Even if I hadn’t been actually sleeping, and tired, and very much inclined to sleep, there’s always meditation to bring me to the edge of readiness to sleep, and from there it’s usually just a choice. Last night my experience was different. I didn’t sleep well.

Now I’ve been on about it for more than 500 words; it’s hard to think about anything but the sleep, and rest, I desperately need to function well when I didn’t get it. I dread going to work today.

Rain-drenched autumn substitute for sleep.

Rain-drenched autumn flowers…no substitute for sleep.

I hurt this morning, too. I wonder if the pain kept me awake? I don’t recall now. I know I hurt.

Lovely blossoms, just less frequent than spring.

Lovely blossoms, less frequent than spring; even pain doesn’t hide autumn’s loveliness.

I’m almost numb with fatigue. I hadn’t slept well for a few days, although I had at least slept. It wasn’t enough to prepare me for this. I giggle slightly hysterically, frustrated by the rampant typing mistakes this morning, the inappropriate expression of amusement somehow my response to the internal seething. Yep. Tired. It’s going to be an interesting day at the office.

Sometimes the truth isn't grand, or illuminating.

Sometimes the truth isn’t grand, or illuminating.

Today isn’t wasted, in spite of the rough start. There’s always more to learn, and the challenges I face – when I face them well – show my strength. When I am less successful facing my challenges, I learn more, grow more, and find new questions to ask along this journey of discovery. Today is one day I’ll do so from the perspective of great fatigue, and limited resilience. The day is far from wasted; it has the potential to teach me something truly new about what I can do with my choices and my will, and where my values really lie. Today, as days go, is ideal for putting new practices to the test, and for seeing progress and growth in action. Tired isn’t synonymous with poor treatment. I still have choices. I still hold a standard of behavior in my treatment of others – and myself – that puts abuse out of reach, and challenges me to do more, better, on a day like today. Where might that take me? No idea. I know I am loved.

My traveling partner comes to me with a smile, and although my initial reaction is one of caution and suspicion (because I am, frankly, not entirely clear-headed), he reached out with love, wrapped me in his arms and held me, touching me gently, stroking my skin, rubbing my back in places he knows reliably hurt, and folding me in his love. Am I still tired? Oh yeah. Do I still hurt? Yep, unquestionably. I am loved, though, and that goes beyond pain, and beyond fatigue, and touches my heart. Even today.

Lovely autumn roses; more beautiful because they are unexpected.

Lovely autumn roses; more beautiful because they are unexpected.

Today is a good day to do my best. Today is a good day to avoid making assumptions. Today is a good day not to take stuff personally. Today is a good day to be impeccable with my words. Today is a good day to savor pleasant moments with my full attention. Today is a good day to let small stuff go. Today is a good day to be patient with myself, and with others. Today is a good day to take care of me, and mind the basics of good self-care – even if I didn’t get enough _______. (Today it’s ‘sleep’, tomorrow I might forget my vitamins. lol) Today is a good day to build a world that cares for me, by being one person I can always count on to do so.