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 out-scream 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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