So this week I had the worst insomnia I have ever had.
It didn’t start like that. I went about my usual routine, kissed my husband tonight, snuggled down and waited… I often have a busy mind when I first get into bed but I try to focus on my breath which usually allows me to drift off.
But last night my mind went on.. and on.. and on. Until 2 hours had past, then 3 hours… still my brain continued to whirr.
At one point I got up and made myself a piece of toast and a warm milk (something from my teenage days when I couldn’t sleep.) I read a cookbook hunched over the worktop because I didn’t have my glasses on, wanting to give my brain something else to focus on but also not wanting to wake up so much I’d never be able to sleep. After filling my brain with thought of homemade bread, I got back into bed but instead of finding comfort I began to cry.
See, the reason I couldn’t sleep is because I suffer from anxiety. And there’s nowhere to hide from it in the middle of the night.
I woke my husband up with the false claim of a bad dream – but my whole night was becoming a nightmare. I could feel the rising panic from the dark in both my room and my brain. I felt like my thoughts were driving me mad.
After I have no idea how long I gave up and found an emergency prescription pill which gave me some blessed calm, but still my brain whirred on and on.. I don’t know what time it was when I eventually drifted off.
The day came and husband went to work. But I couldn’t leave my bed. I slept for 3 more hours and called work to say I couldn’t come in. Despite it now being day time and the monsters have gone. I had an insomnia hangover. I had a headache and my eyes stung from the sleepless night and the tears that had pricked my eyes that morning.
Anxiety sucks. As someone who never used to suffer until quite recently, it fucking sucks. When you’re OK you wonder why you were such a mess. But in the middle of it, I feel a black knot inside my ribcage and a storm rages in my brain between the rational and the irrational. ‘Good versus evil.’ The light and the dark.
In the middle of the night I felt like a failure. A weakling. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get a grip? Why couldn’t I go back to ‘normal’ But that mean voice is not me. That’s the monster.
In the light of day. I know I am normal. We all have monsters. I’m still learning to conquer mine or whatever the correct metaphor is, but I know I can only do it with love and kindness.
I used to block out the dark. Pretend that if I didn’t acknowledge it then I would only have sunshine and positivity. But now I know that I must embrace the dark to let in the light. That’s normal. I mustn’t be afraid on the dark. It’s hard and I’m still working on it. But I know in the end, by accepting this side of myself I’ll be a much more whole person.
So I feel this is the bravest piece I have written. This is my soul laid bare. This is holding my hands up and saying that I cannot always be the positivity fairy that I so strive to be. Even Tinkerbell had her issues I’m sure.
For anyone who suffers from anxiety or depression – I feel your pain. But never doubt you cannot beat the monster in the night.
Rainbow Church by Tokujin Yoshioka