Is Insomnia Synonymous With Vulnerability?
Last updated: September 2023
Living with other chronic illnesses, I've heard many people refer to their disease or condition as their superpower.
I think this is admirable. I think it's something like a coping mechanism and a mantra all in one – something that helps people look for silver linings, recognize newfound strengths, etc.
Insomnia is not my superpower
Listen, I desperately wish that I could say, "Insomnia is my superpower," but that would be a flat. out. lie.
I could say that surviving without sleep is my superpower or that being too tired to function and functioning anyway is my superpower, but those things don't feel particularly powerful. They feel like survival instinct. They feel like a requirement for me to be a person who lives with insomnia and has a job and a daughter and a lot of balls to juggle at any given time. Can anyone out there relate?
Feeling overwhelmingly vulnerable
Instead of finding a way to feel strong, confident, or brave while struggling with the effects of insomnia on my everyday life, I find myself often feeling overwhelmingly vulnerable.
Why, you ask?
Because being overtired makes me feel vulnerable.
Because being exhausted makes me feel vulnerable.
Because not sleeping well, or enough, makes it hard to think clearly, which makes me feel vulnerable.
Because being awake, when the world is dark and quiet and there's nobody else to talk to, it makes me feel vulnerable. It leaves me alone with my deepest darkest thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears, and friends, that's a lot to sit with.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
Insomnia feels like a synonym to vulnerability
Insomnia, to me, feels like a synonym to vulnerability. It feels like another way to say that I'm feeling paper-thin, emotionally. That it's impossible for me to deliver everything to everyone, admitting to the world that I'm just too tired to be at my best.
Insomnia, in many ways, feels like it's taking a magnifying glass to the things I'm unsure or unsteady about and amplifying them to the world. Insomnia starts by making sure that those moments, those heartaches, those places where I fall short or feel small play on repeat in my mind during the hours that I can't sleep. And then, it goes bigger. In my fragile, exhausted, awake state, it feels like insomnia has gone ahead and tattooed those shortcomings across my forehead for others to read while I'm walking around in public.
Can anyone else relate?
As I write through these thoughts, I wonder, am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who feels increasingly and uncomfortably vulnerable at all times due to my struggles with a sleep disorder?
I mean, to be fair, I guess I don't feel like this all of the time, all day, every day. There are occasionally days or even weeks when I feel like I have a stronger hold on myself, on my sleeping patterns, on the way insomnia is affecting me. And during those times, I don't feel quite as unnervingly vulnerable. I wouldn't say that I feel as strong or as confident as I wish I would, but I would tell you that those feelings of inadequacy and being "less than" don't plague me every moment.
If any of this resonates with you, I'd be honored to read your experiences and thoughts below.
Do you experience painsomnia?