Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Thursday, February 7, 2013


For about the last 20 months I've had horrible insomnia. I can fall asleep just fine, I just don't stay asleep. I wake up and crazy thoughts start racing through my mind. Thoughts of what I have to do the next day and the next. Things like: I need to get the chicken out to thaw and make sure Lauren put her homework back in her folder. Thoughts of errands that needed to be run, things to add to my grocery list, and and upcoming meetings would spin around in my head over and over. Part of that 20 months I was pregnant. Pregnant women are supposed to be exhausted, right? I thought I was waking up because I had to go to the bathroom so much. A dear friend suggested that I try Tylenol PM. It is safe during pregnancy and had helped her sleep during her pregnancies. So I tried it. That was a year ago. It may have helped me stay asleep a little longer, but I still woke up only to find I couldn't go back to sleep. About a month later I lost the baby. As all women do after a miscarriage, I tried to find a reason. I tried to blame myself for taking the Tylenol PM, even after a physician friend told me that wasn't the reason. We women are so hard on ourselves. A few weeks after that, a neighbor's dog started waking me up around 3:45 every morning. FOR A WHOLE MONTH. I think I know every Brazos County dispatcher's name now because I called every single night and sometimes twice a night. But that's another post.

So let me tell you I have tried EV-RY-THING! Zquil, Benadryl, Nyquil, Melatonin. We've flipped the mattress, we've bought new pillows. I slept with earplugs. I sprayed lavender spray in my pillow and darn near suffocated myself trying to inhale very deeply.

During the hundreds of hours that I would lie awake, I tried praying. I prayed for everybody and everything. I prayed thousands of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. I sang songs from church. NOTHING worked. I would stay in bed in hopes that sleep would eventually come. Dr. Oz had a show about insomnia in which his guest doctor and sleep expert said Melatonin really isn't recommended. Many people take it incorrectly and if you take too much, you can have awful nightmares. He said tart cherry juice has melatonin in it and it is good right before bed. I bought some and didn't notice a difference. I thought about how tryptophan makes everyone sleepy on Thanksgiving so I researched that. It isn't really the tryptophan that helps sleep, but the overeating itself. Bummer!

After Christmas we went to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. The first night we stayed in a hotel. Yeah, hotel beds aren't always the most comfortable. I slept 6 hours straight. Do you hear the choir of angels singing? I sure did. I was a whole new woman. The next 2 nights we slept at my aunt's house. I woke up a few times, but went right back to sleep. I'm not saying it was like the good ol' days of almost 8 hours of sleep, but it was huge progress! The 4th night we stayed with friends and slept on their hide-a-bed. Not the most comfortable, but not something to complain about. Again, I slept for long periods of time and when I did get up to go to the bathroom, I was able to get back to sleep.

I was so excited about an end to my insomnia. Then we went home.... and it came back. My patience meter no longer reset itself each night and every little bit of bickering or tattling put me over the edge. I was close to the point where I could understand how Marie Osmond walked away from her family. Stephen sensed my stress and sent me to adoration while he put the kids to bed. I was there 2 hours and it seemed like I could have stayed another 2 hours.

I posted about my insomnia on Facebook and my beloved high school youth minister said maybe a trip to a therapist would help. I tried not to be offended. I am a happy housewife. All I've ever wanted is to stay home and care for my family. How could I need a therapist? At the exact same time I was instant messaging with him, my friend Suzanne, mother of 5, made it very clear: although we are very happy in our vocation as mothers, being away from home meant I didn't have to worry about getting the kids ready for school. OR laundry. Or cooking. Or shuttling the kids to dance, etc... Being with family and friends meant I had help and other people the kids could play with and talk to and it wasn't all about Mommy so I could really, trully relax. Yep, makes perfect sense. My brain just wasn't shutting all the way down. So I looked ahead at an upcoming retreat with hope for another weekend of sleep. I put a fan on my side of the bed and when I woke up at 4, I started humming with the fan. Strange, I know. On our retreat we actually stayed up late and got up earlier than I do at home so I don't think that altered my insomnia at all.

When I returned home, it started getting worse. Monday and Tuesday mornings the exhaustion triggered my emotion hormones again and as Stephen was leaving for work, I started crying. During our Women's Endow Study on Suffering meeting on Tuesday, I held back the tears the best that I could, constantly dabbing my eyes with a napkin. Afterwards a friend, Carrie, asked me if I was okay and when I told her about my insomnia, she told me she has it, too, but not every day. She suggested having a little bit of wine and then some Benadryl. So I did and I slept 5 1/2 hours straight. I still woke up early, but just having 5 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep made a huge difference and gave me hope. Another friend, Heidi, emailed to see if I was okay. When I told her about my lack of sleep, she shared her blog post from 3 years ago about her insomnia. Finally I have found some friends who 'get it'. She said that prolonged lack of sleep is due to continued release of adrenaline, which protects your body in its vulnerable state. Makes perfect sense.

Yesterday was my birthday. The day started off with a few friends coming over for our monthly Mom's Prayer Group. It was a nice break from the same ol' same ol'. Last night Stephen and I splurged and ordered Sangia Swirls for dinner. Stephen and the kids got me lavender body wash, bubble bath, and pillow spray. When we got home, I had a long bath and took 2 Benadryl. I know, I know, never mix alcohol with medicine. I'm desperate here! After my bath my best friend called and then I went to bed. It was a good change up from my normal bedtime routine. No TV and no computer. I slept from 11:30 until Stephen's alarm woke us both up at 5. I figured I'd end up lying awake until we normally get up at 6:30, but I was wrong. I went back to sleep!!!! Ahhhh! Chime in the harps and trumpets here! It was such a breakthrough. I pray that I get the same amount of sleep tonight.

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