Living with chronic insomnia can be torturous. It is an emotionally numbing yet simultaneously neurotic existence that can be a physically painful, anxiety inducing hell.
Those with chronic insomnia know how awful and debilitating it can be. The dread of another night rolling around and facing the fact that you ‘have to sleep’ but still won’t. The anxiety and panic of laying awake, yet again. Shallow breathing, tight chest, a racing heart, and feeling clammy are all just part of your normal nightly routine. Your fight or flight mode is activated, and it adds to the trouble of falling asleep because you have to keep getting up to pee. The stress hormones flowing so freely through your veins does that.
You are so tired.
So very, very tired… yet your brain still doesn’t turn off. Humans have evolved to eat, sleep, and find shelter but here you are questioning your own sanity as to why one of these natural mechanisms is lost of you. Is there an off switch for my brain? Why can’t there be an off switch!?
You face another morning of drudgery, hauling your meat bag (aka your body) out of bed after far too little sleep – if any at all. That’s what it feels like, anyway. A meat bag.
Your body is numb or maybe you have random physical pains, but you feel oddly detached. Your mind seems separate from this because it is so over active but somehow this doesn’t translate into physical energy. Why is it that a tired mind causes a tired body, but a tired body doesn’t necessarily cause a tired mind?
It hurts to be alive today.
Your body wants to sleep but your mind won’t allow it.
Then there’s the pleasure of driving to work when you know you are just as capable as someone 5 drinks in. Unfortunately the world doesn’t stop for insomniacs and you need to keep going with life. Your eyes hurt trying to keep them open.
You pray to whatever deity out there that a pedestrian doesn’t get too confident and think you’ll be able to see them in time because you know your reaction time is shot.
You get to work and normal tasks seems more difficult. Your concentration is non-existent. Forming coherent thoughts or sentences when someone asks you a question feels like a miraculous feat. Having someone babble about how their weekend makes you want to physically bite your tongue so you don’t lash out at such inane conversations because emotional control seems to be lost on a sleep deprived mind.
You wish you could quit your job.
You just want to recuperate for a bit, but there’s bills and people to support and social expectations to be upheld. Can you tell your employer how deeply this is affecting your life? Would they even care?
It’s okay for an employee to ask for help for a drug or alcohol condition, and physical diseases get tons of sympathy and well wishes. But saying you can’t sleep elicits responses like “just get more exercise!” or “take melatonin!”.
You know they mean well, but you can’t take anymore of these stupid responses. You can barely stand to not slap someone across the face for being so ignorant towards your plight. Living with chronic insomnia has caused your fuse to shorten significantly.
Then you get home and have your significant other walk on egg shells because they know you didn’t sleep last night. They can at best sympathize but never really understand, and at worst, tell you to get over yourself. You misplace your phone, and forget that the stove burner was left on after you were done cooking. That is, if you cooked at all. Insomnia messes up your appetite so either you don’t eat at all, or you indulge in every fatty and sweet thing you can think of from whatever fast food restaurant is closest to you.
There are some days of deep anxiety and depression. There are other days of complete resignation that I guess this is your life now.
You are an living with chronic insomnia.
It flows perfectly with all of the other superficial things to identify with in life: job, education, city of origin, insomniac. Great.
You feel isolated. It’s likely that the insomnia you are experiencing is secondary, which means it’s a toxic by-product of mental disorder. In desperation you look up “how to go to sleep” or “how to fall asleep fast” and get another article saying somehow if you just change your physical environment, you’d be okay.
You want to punch the screen. You’ve done everything that you can by limiting screen time, drink less caffeine, and tried hacking your way through exercising but you still can’t sleep.
Somehow, you get through another day. You are still here.
You still wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy though.