To My Fellow Anxiety-Suffering Chronic Insomniacs,
I write this with shaky hands and a foggy head, so if you cannot possibly comprehend me here, you must understand my predicament. You wouldn’t be reading this — or attempting to read this through the haze — otherwise. Instead, you’d be among the Lucky Ones. You know, the ones who have the (utterly inconceivable) superpower ability to calm themselves down and shut off the world and the voices. The ones who are able to leap from tall buildings in a single bound in the land of nod right after their heads hit their fluffy pillows (or collapse against a cushioned headrest, bathtub edge, hardwood floor, fortified wall, thorny bush…). The ones who could actually remain sleeping while atomic bombs were being dropped around their homes. If you’re like me, their remarkable abilities might make you physically sick with envy, sick to the point when you’re up all night again, plotting their destruction.
Since I am a fellow insomniac, I couldn’t possibly grant you, Sleepless In Wherever, any worthwhile advice. However, there are those who claim they may be able to assist you:
1. Healthy Food Choice Experts (“dietitians”) — They will insist you never eat after 7pm, and if you must, you’re to eat only vitamin and mineral rich foods like raw almonds, raw vegetables, Greek yoghurt, warm milk, bananas, cherries, and steel cut oatmeal. What the Healthy Food Choice Experts don’t mention is the possibility of overindulgence, allergies, flatulence, and/or food phobias.
2. Meditators — These people thrive on a plane of existence you, like me, may not be able to fathom at all. They have the ability to zone out and “listen” to their own breathing. They also focus on Nothingness, and that weirdly calms them. Meditators don’t seem to understand that if a Chronic Insomniac concentrates on Nothingness, the Chronic Insomniac will, inevitably, pontificate Nothingness and all that Nothingness may or may not entail. The Chronic Insomniac will then spend hours focusing on the potential philosophical constructs of Nothingness. After awhile, the Chronic Insomniac will deduce that Nothingness is merely a Zen metaphor for Death, and he or she will be awake the next several nights worrying about this.
3. Well-Meaning Family and Friends — All of them will offer you advice or “cures” that have either been recycled from past generations or have been gathered from such invaluable sources of information as Dr. Oz and Reader’s Digest.
4. Sleep Center Technologists — These folks actually expect a Chronic Insomniac to be able to sleep with sensors taped all over the body so that they may monitor everything from heart rate to brain activity to leg movement. Chronic Insomniacs are never comfortable anyway, so the Sleep Center Techs may find their results to be null and void. Sleep will not occur at any point in time during the study.
5. Therapists — They are paid handsomely to proclaim the obvious: “You are suffering from severe anxiety and stress due to (fill in the blank with appropriate possible stressors). You need to stop being stressed.” They will then grant you “therapy” in the form of any or all of the following: journaling, journaling, journaling, journaling, and maybe some past-life regression hypnosis.
6. Physicians — They are paid handsomely to refer you to a network of other specialists in order to determine the cause of your insomnia. Could it be thyroid-related or something neurological? Is it caused by a heart condition or an adrenal problem? Is the Potential Tumor malignant or benign? Of course, while the Chronic Insomniac is pressed to schedule all of these detailed appointments and then forced to wait for potentially dour results, the Chronic Insomniac continues to remain awake all hours of the night, every night, worrying about the possibility of terminal disease, the end of the line. Once the results have been announced in scary doctor-ese then properly translated into layman’s terms, the GP will then refer you to a psychiatrist because, obviously, you’re simply “suffering from severe anxiety and stress caused by (fill in the blank with appropriate possible stressors).”
7. Psychiatrists –They are paid handsomely to ask you a lot of questions, say “Mmm” a lot, and then prescribe to you a number of medications that may or may not work, and may or may not give you such delightful side effects like loss of balance, painful urination, muscle spasms, diarrhea, nausea, heart palpitations, blindness, severe chest pains, and of course–the irony of the matter–anxiety and sleeplessness.
So, my fellow Chronic Insomniacs, it seems as if we’ve ample solutions but with such varying results, none of which actually halts what’s happening aloud in our heads at night. There may be momentary respite now and then, but in all actuality, continuous sleep eludes us.
In the end, all we really can do is join the dinner party with the voices in our heads.