An extreme close up of a face showing signs of stress, anguish and exhaustion

Not Feeling Human

Last updated: July 2021

It’s strange, really. I think about the statistics that are widely known to the human race in regards to “how many years we sleep through the course of our lives.”

I still, after 30 years of living with chronic insomnia, with medications and therapy, find myself thinking I am SO unlike those people that get to experience what quality sleep really looks like...and feels like.

It’s hard to explain to others who don’t experience severe insomnia what it feels like to still try and be a functioning part of society when you’re only able to give part of you, and the rest of you feels empty and ghost-like.

Trying to function but running on empty

I don’t feel human. I’m definitely not a creature of habit when it comes to my sleep. Other than my sleep hygiene routine, which has never dramatically changed.

But I definitely feel like some type of creature – awake and physically present during the hours of the day. I “should” be alert and awake and “should” be falling asleep.

I’ve tossed those “shoulds” far away long ago and have tried my best (for far too long) to accept it for what it is and solely focus on just letting my body rest, and when it eventually shuts down...just try to focus on recovering from each crash.

Hard crashes and long recovery

For me, it’s definitely been building up and crashing far more significantly than I’ve ever experienced before in my life. I know that part of the reason I’m experiencing so many more hard crashes is not solely, but majorly due to the fact that I was close to death in the last 6 months more than once due to severe complications of a combination of diseases I continue to struggle with.

While I’m now in a much better state physically, mentally, and emotionally, I still have a lot of recovery to go through. While I fell ill, I lost a significant amount of my body weight and was forced to be fed intravenously through a central line that essentially fed me through my heart.

Emotionally worn down

I've also struggled emotionally from not being able to sleep while still trying to regain muscle and regain the time that has been lost on A) lack of sleep, B) time spent in the hospital, and C) catching up on personal AND work business to get back on my feet.

I might be there now, but my stance is unsteady, and my steps are small and lack the grip to keep moving.

Not sleeping makes you angry, makes you more apt to become emotional at the strangest things – at the drop of a hat – and doesn't refill that "cup" to stay energized, focused, and in the present.

Small steps in the right direction

While I have done my part of slowly transitioning to be in a state of health (enough to try start liquids by mouth and eventually tiny bits of food) and have gained weight, I continue to struggle severely on a daily basis with muscle pain due to the significant atrophy that occurred so suddenly.

I am now seeing several doctors for physical therapy and care for my back. I truly hope I’m able to update, even within the month, that the physical therapy takes me in the right direction so I can stand up for the periods of time I need to.

Obviously, my long-term goal is pain relief, but my end goal is that even trying a new form of physical therapy to help rebuild my "muscle memory" so it will result in a better quality of sleep.

Have you ever felt like a walking ghost, hardly contributing to society due to the lack of sleep you get, even on a “normal” basis? Like you have half of your head in the clouds and one foot on your tippy-toes keeping you barely grounded? You’re definitely not alone.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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