Insomnia Advocacy in March
Welcome to March. This year is really moving at a rapid pace. March is upon us and it marks the month of the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep Awareness Week®. Some extra time is taken to shed light on less talked about things. Extra attention is drawn to those who struggle to have healthy sleep patterns and how it affects their lives. I have been a patient advocate for insomnia for some time now, and advocacy for insomnia is something that I am very passionate about.
What is advocacy to me?
This is actually a question I have been asked more and more as I talk about my work more often. So many people seem to be unsure about what being a patient advocate means. I will share with you what it means to me. This might not be the actual description, but it is about so much more than being textbook correct to me.
My pillars of advocacy
My pillars of advocacy are support and education.
This means making the world a little less lonely for those who experience insomnia.
Often, insomnia can feel like a very lonely place. Having safe spaces to talk to and with people who genuinely understand what you are experiencing is the validation and support that most of us do not even know we need. Surrounding myself with a group or community that genuinely "gets" it has made a massive difference in my life.
I feel that it is vital to create an understanding with our loved ones and partners. Education about what we are truly experiencing can be so helpful.
Insomnia is 1 of those things that if you have not lived it, is almost impossible to truly grasp. I do feel that if we offer insight into our lives and minds, it helps others understand us better. Correcting myths that circulate among people regarding insomnia requires educating others.
Advocacy provides validation for all experineces
I do not believe in gatekeeping as a concept. We all experience things at our own pace. We receive experiences differently. If you get insomnia once a year or for 10 months of the year, it is all valid.
Just because someone experiences insomnia differently from you, does not make it better or worse. There is no need to compare experiences. Instead, we should meet everyone with kindness and support for what they are going through. Insomnia, like most things in life, is complex and affects so many aspects of our lives.
Advocacy provides the opportunity to validate all insomnia experiences and meet each with kindness and empathy.
Why do I choose to advocate for insomnia?
I have experienced insomnia since I was a young girl. I was often getting into trouble because I was not asleep shortly after the lights were out. At times, I was accused of making excuses for not sleeping and for being badly behaved.
The memories are so clear for me, how they made me feel. And I cannot help but think that if the people around me had a better grasp and understanding of what I was going through, things could have been very different for me. Had I been met with more understanding and support, I would not have felt as lonely and helpless as I often do. I do not wish that feeling on anyone.
My advocacy plan: supporting children
I take pride in my insomnia advocacy and often focus on the younger generation as they do not have the mental capacity we do as adults nor the tools and resources to do this on their own. They require so much more guidance around insomnia to not feel abandoned or like they are doing something wrong.
Moving forward this year, I am keen to get involved with some local groups and help to teach children and parents about healthy sleeping habits, how to recognize insomnia, and what to do to assist, understand, and support the children going through this.
Is there something you, as someone who experiences insomnia, would like to see more of this year?
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