Life as an Adult Insomniac

I’ve struggled with insomnia since I was a child but never got any type of medical assistance for it until age 15-16.

I was put on sleep aids and several other drugs as needed, which quickly turned into every night, which meant that the effectiveness of any sleep aid quickly diminished. This happened with several medications.

Insomnia during my college years

I knew I had a problem when I realized that my body enjoyed the relaxation and fighting off sleep rather than actually allowing the medication to work and going to bed immediately. This was in college, when I was in a bad place relationship-wise and when my flashbacks of what I came to know as trauma started to exist quickly.

This was also when I was not in therapy when I absolutely should have been. The circumstances in my life then would not have allowed me to go to therapy, to recognize that I was in a terrible relationship that affected everything around me and left me drained of energy, feeling lifeless much of my days.

I also quickly came to find that through taking these medications, the next morning I would find out or come across things I would do in the middle of the night - attempt to write my college essays, which resulted in gibberish. I would sleep eat. I would be a participant in sexual activity with my boyfriend I had been living with at the time. I would sleepwalk.

Anxiety and chronic insomnia followed me into adulthood

Sleep paralysis started for me around age 20. I had been through previous trauma and maybe that’s when my anxiety really started to ramp up, which meant even more insomnia, as most of my anxiety happened when one’s body should be at rest, calming down and settling in for the evening. For me, that time of day was like morning for me and I would come alive with energy; mostly anxious energy, never productive energy.

I struggled through years of little to no sleep as an adult, just as I did as a child. Even with antidepressants that acted as heavy sedatives, I would fall asleep for an hour, and I would be up the rest of the night, usually full of pent up energy and angst that I couldn’t fall back asleep. Insomnia makes you angry. It robs you of the little to no energy you have, despite not being able to calm down enough to put your body at rest, with or without chemicals.

Improving my quality of life

My journey through life with insomnia will likely never be completely cured, fixed, or assisted, especially without the help of therapy, medications, and good sleep hygiene. I continue to struggle, especially with a diagnosis in recent years of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and ill-managed anxiety.

Through eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), I am learning and practicing how to make my quality of life better, even on just 3 hours of sleep a night. As much as I let it try not to control other angles of my life, I’m now used to running on very little sleep, meaning everything will continue to be affected as long as I struggle with sleep disorders.

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