Once upon a time I could enjoy sleep. Plan lie in’s. Plan a late night. Plan on rolling up in my duvet. Plan a duvet day. Basically enjoy sleep. I would very often sleep for anything up to 12 hours at the weekend, which may not sound healthy, but it felt great for me. I definitely recharged my batteries and would be able to carry on with the rest of my world.
That is until I become homeless. When you’re sofa surfing or rough sleeping you learn this little art of half sleeping while being half awake. You never know what is coming for you or at you where you will need to be fully alert and possibly on the run. This happened to me a number of times, where I had to get up and go at a startling pace.
This one occasion, without boring you with the underlying details – right now at least – I awoke with a startle when I heard the voices of angry teens. I unzipped the tent and looked behind me. The teens were running up the hill to my tent with objects in there hands. All I could see was the silhouettes of their bodies and their weapons with their voices booming away shouting obscenities at me which were very threatening. I had to wake up fast and I had to run. I made it safely away, but this occurrence taught me to sleep with one eye open, literally!
It was from this point in my life that I have never been able to sleep naturally since. Yes, I have a mood disorder that does affect my sleep pattern also, but the underlying insomnia is still an issue which I currently hide behind with my anti-psychotics that thankfully knock me out every night.
I am pretty much guaranteed that whenever I go away for a holiday, or just overnight for work business, I will forget to take my medication away with me. This is not a good thing for my mood disorder, but then at the time of me being away my main worry is about whether I will sleep or not and whether I can function the following day. I will be lucky if I can get to sleep at about 4am and then wake up at 5.30pm. Though I have learnt that if the heat in the room is very high then I can get another hour max. Though, that is dependent on the room temperature which at some hotels you can’t change yourself. So that extra hour is always an added bonus.
So tonight I am currently going through the motions of being friends with my insomnia, for the second night in a row. I was hoping that the 180 miles road trips to various beaches along the west coast of Wales, up and down Snowdon and great food feasting would help the cause. I was slightly delusional maybe.
I happened to be talking on twitter with a friend who shared with me that she was suffering insomnia also and was about to go and jump up and down on her trampoline at 1am to wear her out to try and sleep. All my knowledge of relaxation shouted out to me to stop her! That was the worst thing she could do. She I gave her simple tips and directed her to some helpful information about insomnia, what it is and how you can help yourself before you end up visiting your GP and potentially taking unneeded drugs.
While reading through an article from the NHS I noticed that as well as the usual tips and trick that CBT could be used to help treat insomnia, especially if a route cause is known or can be found. This has made me think. I know what the cause of my insomnia is – well I think I do, you never know the true reason until you speak to a therapist (well that’s my logic!). Is it worth me contacting my local CBT professional, whom I have great appreciation for his work, to see whether this could be an approach to me ending my insomnia once and for all?
I must point out that I am aware with any psychiatric illness you must speak to your psychiatrist about such things, as the only way of curing insomnia would be for me to come off my anti-psychotics and changing my whole care plan. I am more than happy to talk about this with him as this could lead to another happy aspect of my life.
I love my sleep and I would love for my sleep to love me back. Insomnia has been such a great friend to me, but times change and I feel ready to leave him behind.