Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’

Chamomile

Posted: December 27, 2010 in insomnia, Memory Lane
Tags: ,

It’s 2:30 in the ay-em, and I’ve been awake since 1:15. I don’t think anyone ever greets bouts of insomnia with enthusiasm. So, dammit.

I’ve suffered with insomnia off and on for my entire life. I distinctly recall weekends spent at my aunt and uncle’s home – they lived the next town over and took me for the weekend at least once a month, from the time I was about two or three, until my teenage years. My aunt would make up the living room couch for me, and everyone in the household went to bed at 9:00. The lights would switch off, goodnight’s would be called, and in very short order I’d hear my uncle’s distinct snore rumbling from down the hall. I’d try to settle my mind to sleeping, and was just never able to manage it. I’d listen to the clock tick, stare out the window at the streetlight, and wait and wait and wait. Sometimes I would cry in frustration – sleeplessness is, after all, an entirely lonely, solitary, frustrating occupation.

Sometimes I would get up and sit in the kitchen with a glass of water, and my aunt would find me just sitting there, blinking, in the dim light coming from the stove lamp. She’d fix me a cup of chamomile tea, sit at the counter while I sipped at it, then usher me back into the living room and tuck me back in. And there I’d lay, blinking at the lightening horizon, until I heard my uncle’s alarm go off and everyone would roll out to start the day. Every time I stayed with them, I walked into the visit with the knowledge that I would get exactly zero sleep – or, any sleep I managed to grab was during afternoon naps laying across the foot of my aunt’s bed, on her folded wedding ring quilt.

I never could explain – to them or to myself – why I could never sleep when I visited them. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the worst news I’d ever received in my young life – that of my mother’s passing, and that of Brad’s passing – occurred at that house, while I was visiting them. That I was there at the time of my mother’s passing was intentional – I was left in my aunt and uncle’s safekeeping while the family dealt with my mother’s hospital stay, surgery, and eventual passing. That I was there when Brad died was just an unhappy coincidence – his accident just happened to occur on one of my weekends with them.

I was also never able to sleep at my friend Elizabeth’s house. As is often the case for kids living in the sticks, weekend sleepovers were common. I’d stay at her place on Friday night, right “off the bus” from school. Then her mom would drive us to Grandma’s in the early afternoon, and she’d stay at my house on Saturday night. Grandma would haul our butts to church on Sunday (this was before she became a Witness and we were attending a Baptist church), and Elizabeth would be dropped back off at home after the service. On the nights I stayed with Elizabeth, more often than not it was my asthma that kept me awake. Back in those days inhalers were little more effective than Primatine Mist, and since she had an abundance of pets AND her home was heated primarily with a wood stove, I was never really able to breathe well. I could handle it for the most part during the day, when our adventures took us outside, and when I was upright.

But at night, laying down, things quickly escalated to the point of near panic. So I would sit outside in the middle of the night, on their front steps in the weak light of their porch lamp, brace my arms behind me and shoulders climbing to my ears to help expand my lungs. I’d do the breathing exercises my doctor taught me, listen to the crickets if it was summer or shiver my ass off if it was winter, and wait and wait and wait. Many times Elizabeth’s mother caught me creeping in or out, and her cure for what ailed me was a hot cup of chamomile. She’d sit me down in the kitchen, or she’d bring it to me out on the steps, she’d pat my head and tell me not to wander around in the middle of the night, and she’d go back to sleep. Leaving me to sip, and stare, and breathe.

Sleeplessness happened less often at my own home, but when it did it wasn’t nearly the exercise in loneliness and frustration that it seemed to be elsewhere. I would simply switch on my bedside lamp, choose a book from my bookshelf, and wile away the hours. Or I’d quietly let myself out the back door and into the screen house in the back yard, where I would sit and breathe and listen to the night sounds. Occasionally my Grandmother, who was a light sleeper, would discover my awake state, and she’d fix me a mug of chamomile tea. We’d sit together in the screen house, or at the kitchen table, and she’d stay up and talk with me until I finished every drop. She’d ask me if I was sleepy, and if I was she’d tuck me back in, kiss my forehead, turn off my light, and leave my bedroom door open a crack. If I wasn’t sleepy she’d tell me to “keep my butt inside the house”, then tuck me in with my book and a glass of water, hunt up the cat and deposit him on the foot of my bed, kiss my forehead, and leave my bedroom door open a crack.

Tonight – this morning – I’m awake yet again. The routine hasn’t changed all that much, I just address my sleepless state with a great deal less frustration than I used to. It’s an opportunity for me to read, or surf the web, or watch something I DVR’ed. Tonight, I have a warm ball of purring cat at my side, an itch to write, and a hot mug of chamomile tea. Funny thing is, I don’t particularly like the taste of chamomile. Some things are just ingrained, I guess.

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Whelmed

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Headspace, insomnia
Tags: , ,

I am going to try (valiantly, mind you) not to drop the F-bomb all over the place up in here.

The way that a panic attack makes me feel now, in its fledgling aftermath, is just plain old PISSED OFF. As the heartbeat slows and the stomach un-clenches, instead of feeling just kind of relieved that it’s over, with a dash of contemplative confusion over why it may have started in the first place, now I just get ticked. Because, you guys? This is getting fucking ridiculous.

Sorry. Fail.

Last night Bill and I went to bed at 11:00 (after watching Memphis Blue, which is mostly decent and if it were on one of the “big three” networks it would never make it). At 2:30 my eyes popped wide open, and I felt fearfully adrenalized without the benefit of, you know, having been chased by a slathering Rottweiller or something. At that moment right before awakening, I hadn’t been dreaming. I hadn’t, obviously, been thinking about anything. I had been sleeping, goddammit. And yet here I was, hot and then cold, with a demolition derby going on in my gut and my breathing coming in short, shallow gasps. I tried taking deep breaths, tried finding a more comfortable position, tried closing my eyes and counting to a hundred. After about a half-hour of trying to calm myself down, I gave up the ghost and grabbed a Xanax from the bathroom. Swallowed it dry. Went back to bed. Tossed for another half-hour or so, then finally drifted off to sleep.

Only to wake up again, about forty-five minutes later, from a nightmare. Bill and I were on an airplane that crashed into the ocean, and then it was just the two of us in the murky, dark water. No debris, no other bodies, just us. And he was staring up at me as he was sinking down in to the ocean, while I drifted above him. He locked eyes with me, and he was peaceful, while I was frantic and thrashing in the water. I woke up gasping, and immediately rolled over to touch Bill as he lay sleeping next to me. He kind of grunted, but turned his hand in mine to hold it.

That old, stupid fear of death gripped me once again, and I wondered frantically how much time we still had together. Would we see the fulfillment of our goals that lead to a more soul-satisfying life, or would we just continue grinding away in the superficial surroundings of this valley we live in? What was the point of it all, and had I done anything, anything worthwhile? If I were to depart this mortal coil at this very second, would I be nothing but rotting bones in a grave? What happened to my mother, and my grandmother? Did they just stop existing? Because I don’t think I could bear the thought of Granny not existing somewhere, on some level.

Spin spin spin, panic panic panic.

I squeezed my eyes shut and sent up a hard, fast prayer to please help me find peace. Tonight, and in general, so that I could avoid these inexplicable attacks. For crying out loud, give me a normal mind.

Eventually, I fell asleep. My eyes popped open again at 9:00 this morning – the latest I’ve slept in weeks, benefit of the Xanax. But it had worn off, and my gut was well on its way to grinding again. So I said, out loud (to Ozzy, in fact, who was staring me in the face and sniffing my eyebrow), “FUCK this.” I got up, I made coffee, I called Bill, and hearing his voice made me feel better. I stared up the computer and figured out which assignments to write today. I took a pause, read through my feed reader, and now I’m writing this. None the wiser for what the hell is going on with my brain, but fed the fuck up to HERE with it.

I am sick to death of being such a mental mess.