a woman with insomnia looking out a window of a treehouse she has imagined

Insomnia: Dream a Little Dream for Me

I was always a curious kid - a curious kid with an especially active imagination. There was nothing I couldn’t conjure up when I took just a minute or two to think. From visions of myself as a veterinarian with my own clinic to picturing myself fashioning an entire 3-bedroom home inside a hollowed-out tree in the woods behind my home, I could see it all as clear as day.

My days were filled with hours riding my bike, letting my imagination run wild with images of what I would be like as a grownup. Of all the scenarios my brain concocted, I never devised any such plan whereby I would one day become an adult who would never again know silence--or a solid night's sleep.

A new diagnosis

Insomnia, though not unexpected as I moved somewhat rapidly toward being able to click those age 45-55 dropdown menus in online surveys, did hit hard. About 5 years ago, I started struggling with sleeplessness.

However, I was slammed full force with a whole new feeling of exhaustion and frustration after being diagnosed with Meniere’s disease in October of 2019. When I say it’s a different level of fatigue, I mean that with my entire heart and soul.

No rest for the weary

Along with insomnia, another of the many symptoms I have associated with Meniere’s disease is tinnitus. I have a constant sound in my left ear that never stops. 24 hours a day/7 days a week I hear what ranges from a low-frequency hum to a high-pitched sound similar to white noise.

It is always worse at night - horrible at night. I miss silence so much and mourn sleep even more. Though I am exhausted and my body is ready for a good night’s sleep, the humming and whining in my ear prevent me from even beginning that process.

White noise inside and out

I am fighting, y’all - fighting it tooth and nail. I have found that I need to create my own noise outside the chaos in my head in order to sleep. Using a white noise machine helps me fall asleep some nights. I force myself to focus on the odd little patterns I hear in the sounds emanating from the device on my bedside table.

Other nights, it’s as useless as my own willpower, and I find myself wanting to chunk it against the wall with much gusto. Believe me, the irony of using a white noise generator to outscream the white noise in my own head is not lost on me. Some days you have to laugh or you’ll cry, right?

Fighting the good fight

I am not going to let insomnia - in whatever form it visits - get me down. After all, I still have that imagination, don’t I? I have outgrown the idea that I can make my own Alice-in-Wonderland style home in a tree, but I still have the ability to dream big dreams. It just so happens that right now my dream is to be able to sleep and actually have some dreams.

For now, I will crank up the white noise, turn my bad ear to the pillow, and try to picture a new plan for a better tomorrow.

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