Insomnia for Life
I’ve shared before that I began struggling with signs and symptoms of insomnia as a child. From frequent movement during the night to blankets strewn across the floor in the morning and night wakings in between, I believe I’ve had insomnia since I was young.
I was officially diagnosed around age 16, during my high school years, and I’ve spent the last 2 decades trying to best adjust my habits, medications, and behaviors around how I can get the best sleep in quality and duration since then.
Coming to terms with my reality
As a 34-year-old wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I honestly have come to terms with the fact that I am likely a lifelong insomniac. While I’ve had seasons where sleeping has been a little easier, or a little more successful, I’ve never gone more than a few months without experiencing some symptoms or effects from my sleep disorder.
Frustration takes more energy than I have
This used to make me feel hopeless. In the height of my sleeplessness, when I was exhausted and emotional, and overly vulnerable, I used to lash out at my partner in jealousy over his restful nights and my fears of forever being exhausted. I’d complain that it wasn’t fair, that I was doing everything in my power to “fix” this problem and nothing was working.
But to be honest, that frustration, that complaining and jealousy, it took more energy than I had lying around.
So. I made a decision.
Choosing a different path
If I was going to have to deal with insomnia for the rest of my life, I was going to do my best to accept that diagnosis, that process, and the associated ramifications.
In order to switch to a more positive outlook, I did a lot of work in walking through my grief and finding some hope along the way.
4 things that changed my outlook
I know that I can’t be the only one in this situation, so I wanted to share some of the things that helped me the most during this time.
1. Giving my insomnia the attention it deserves
Recognizing that like my Crohn’s disease or depression, insomnia is a diagnosed disease. It deserves the same attention and dedication to treatment as anything else. While prescription medication may not always be the answer for insomnia like it is for other health conditions, things like sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioral therapy, herbs and supplements, and even music and aromatherapy can help support my health and ability to get some decent rest.
2. Recognizing the difference between chronic and acute insomnia
Being diagnosed as an insomniac isn’t the same as my friend who is stressed out and struggling to sleep for a few weeks. While she may experience an acute episode of insomnia, unfortunately, she cannot relate to the way that chronic insomnia has impacted my life and my health for almost 20 years. Giving myself patience when responding to her complaints is really important for my own mental health as well as hers.
3. Learning to go with the flow
It may take several tries to find something that can help with my insomnia, and that thing I find may be modified or changed over time. Living with insomnia means adjusting to the ebbs and flows, recognizing when your sleep patterns change and identifying how to redirect the narrative on the regular.
4. Patience is key
Having insomnia can be extremely challenging, but I’ve learned to treat my disorder more like a friend. If I ask it what it needs, instead of cursing it out, I’m likely to get a quicker and more productive response.
How have you adjusted to chronic insomnia? If it’s something you’ve lived with for a long time, what’s your outlook for the future? I’d love for you to share below!
Do you have any other health conditions besides insomnia?