Meanderings about mornings, sleep and insomnia

Looks like this entire week is mostly meandering and not so much thoughtful thoughts. The week was full of stuff, as weeks tend to be around here. The kids had their "benchmark tests"-- precursors to their AIMS, both as practice and to let everyone know if they're actually learning enough to pass. My Beloved worked four 10's because we're getting our kitty spayed today [sorry kitty!] and she'll handle it better if he takes her. Me? I worked my tail off in my myriad of ways, and couldn't sleep well this week, even when I took Benadryl. Damned allergies have me sniffling like I'm always crying. Oh how I love spring, and oh how I Hate it, too.

I'm not much a good sleeper. I consider myself lucky to get five or six quality hours of sleep at night. The weekends are a Goddess-send because I can sleep until I wake up (thanks kids for being able to make your own cereal and watch cartoons).

I've been this way as long as I can remember, maybe it's part of being a night owl growing up in a house full of morning people. You have no idea how horrible that can be, unless you're in the middle of it. It doesn't sound so bad, really. But it is, it's a special kind of hell.

My mother isn't a morning person, either. My Dad is not quite one; but most of my life he and I weren't on the same schedule, so I didn't see him much in the morning. He wakes up and within the hour is functional, but I wouldn't call hima morning person. My siblings, though-- they spring out of bed like they're on pogo sticks, smiling and singing their joy at awakening. My mother would swing between two extremes, either she'd plaster this smile on her face [if you want an example, look at Callista Gingrich's smile, that Barbie face? Yeah, that one] and try to be bright and cheery; or she'd yell and scream at everyone to shut up because it was too early.

Either reaction isn't the greatest when you're trying to wake up, and only one eye ball is working at a time.

Me? I wake up very slowly. First I get my eyes open and sit up, and rub them, and try to make them focus. Then after getting my clothes on, brushing my teeth, throwing water at my face, and even getting my glasses on, I still only see out of one eye. I take turns with them, though-- just closing one and using the other helps. Even now, when I've been up about an hour I'm not fully awake.

I'm not very co-ordinated first thing, either. It's comical, in a cringe inducing way. I'm very good at almost running into doors, and walls, and doorways. I miss them at the very last moment, so I don't have black eyes. Of course the whole, "I ran into the door" is your television stereotypical excuse given for domestic violence-- by my luck, every time I've done it, actually ran into the door, I've given myself a black eye.

I run into the table and counter tops, too. And many times there are little corner-bruises on my hips from it. I don't feel them, the bruising, until later and by then I can't remember what I did.

I can get up, dressed and out the door in 15 minutes. I can drive safely... but don't fucking talk to me while I'm doing it! All my concentration will be on driving, and I will have no brain cells left for thinking about you. Later on, if it's important, talk. But first thing in, do us both a favour and don't.

I remember one time, when I was in high school, I crawled out of bed and into the shower. It was early, about 6. I did that, so I would be mostly awake by the time school started at 830, otherwise I'd be a zombie. By the time I came down my sister and brother were eating breakfast. I do not eat breakfast as soon as I get up-- but they offered me toast anyway, or cereal, or whatever.

I looked at my sister, trying to be so kind, and told her if I took the time to wake up enough to eat I couldn't get us to school on time. "It takes me too damned long to wait up enough to eat. I need to go start the car," then turned and walked out to start my ancient Buick.

My brother tattled to my mother that I'd used a cuss word! Oooh Noooo! Not damned! One of the few times in my life she didn't freak the fuck out, she looked at us and said, "Yeah, I'm not awake enough to give much of a damn myself. Have a good days, guys."

My oldest son and daughter are morning people. Right now in their lives, they bicker first thing... I hope that will stop soon, as I hear them and want to knock their heads together, not wake up and make their lunches. She will sing to herself, constantly. It gets on everyone's nerves. But my oldest, he hates it the most, I think, becuase their rooms are right next to each other.

"Shut up!" he said, "Stop singing! I'm trying to get dressed here." She just laughs, maniacally and sings louder. She sings lame pop-tunes, the ones so over-produced that all you hear is auto-tune, the ones that make me want to vomit. The ones that don't get play time at home, because Mum doesn't do pop music. So I have to step in and tell her, "Girl, stop singing and get ready for school. Now." She is unable to walk and talk at the same time, let alone sing and get dressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love music. My kids love music, all different kinds of music. I have a pretty, warm, alto singing voice, and have pretty good pitch. My oldest son, whose voice still hasn't changed will probably have a lovely tenor when he's done. My daughter, on the other hand, sings like my Great-Grandmother. As she once said, "Of course, I can hit all the notes, just not in the right order." My Great-Grandmother is tone deaf. Completely, utterly, without a doubt, tone deaf.

So is my daughter. She couldn't carry a tune if you gave it to her in a locked suitcase. She just can't. So, her warbling in the morning is horrific. It's barely tolerable later on, and I tell her go sing in her room. If she wants to sing, whatever, but not at the top of her voice, not lame ass pop-songs and not at 650 in the morning! I told her she needs to listen to some of the Euro-thrash or electronica that we have lying around. That stuff you can't fuck up singing, but noooooo, she's in love with pop because it's everything I dispise about music.

Anyway, sleeping. I do that, when I can. I've suffered from insomnia for years. I'll be exhausted, go to bed and lay there. For hours.

Or, if I'm lucky, I fall asleep within an hour of laying down, and then wake up at 2am and can't get back to sleep. So it's like a nap. I feel some what refreshed, and if I have to get up, at least I got four hours, I guess.

Don't give me that, "you need to work on your sleep hygine" or "get yourself into a night-time routine"; I have the same bedtime routine: relax after sending the kids to bed until about nine-thirty, quarter to ten, then feed kitties, water kitties, shower, brush teeth, make bed, get in, and talk over day with Honey. We talk til about 10:30 or eleven, it's mostly just a way to touch base, and then I try to sleep. [No, I won't talk about the sexy-time schedule].

He's out like a light. Me? I lay there, in the dark, all snuggled down, and comfy. Some times my anxieties rage through my head, and spin around and around. Some nights I can't get a stupid song out of my head [ever tried to sleep to Caramel? It's not that easy]. Some nights I have a headache and can't get quite comfortable. Most of the time, though, I'm relaxed, worked through my night-time meditation, and still can't drift off. So I lay there, with my eyes closed, and wait for sleep.

I day dream, laying there. I think of the places I've seen, and walk through the castles again, or meander the cities I've walked in. I watch the sun go down over Lake Michigan, or watch it rise over the snowy fields that used to sit east of my house when I was little, turning the snow orange and red. I write poems, refine characters for my short stories and novel; I compose masterful fight scenes, knowing that they won't ever be put to paper, but it's a soothing exercise.

One doctor told me to count sheep. So I did. I would get depressed and anxious when the number reached into the thousands, and so I stopped. I think I got so wrapped up in counting that I was keeping myself awake. Better to imagine I'm a knight, battling dragons for my lady-fair, or walking the beach, looking for that one piece of driftwood. At least those are like little movies, (without all the light) and don't keep me awake.

I am afraid to take sleep medication other than the other the counter stuff. Usually, if I haven't had a decent night in a week, I'll take an allergy pill, and that's enough. It doesn't make me sleep well, but it does force my body to acknowledge the exhaustion and stay asleep. I get up a little groggy, but I had a mostly OK night's sleep. I would rather that, than sleep-drive, or sleep-eat, or sleep-run-through-my-sliding-door. That prescription sleep medication is terrifying!

A friend thinks I should try for a sleep study; I don't know about it, honestly. I can barely get to sleep in a hotel, I'm not sure I could sleep in a laboratory with probes on my head. Plus, I prefer to sleep nekkid, and I'm sure that wouldn't go over very well in a lab. Or it would, and I'm not so sure how I feel about that, either [hehehe]. Depending on the lab techs, the nekkid sleep might keep them up too, and I'd feel bad about that.

I know my bad sleep is part and parcel of my depression. They started together about the time I was eight or ten. I also know that my depression makes my anxieties much, much worse than that of any one who doesn't have depression [but thankfully not as bad as someone with OCD. I always felt blessed that I didn't suffer that one.] My depression and anxiety feed each other, protect each other and grow together-- it's a sick symbiotic relationship. But it's my head and I have to deal with it.

So I count dragon hoards, or go flying with faerie wings, or take a teacup down a teeny stream with only my spoon to rudder me.

If nothing else, I can thank my insomnia for helping me keep my imagination alive, well, and fabulously dynamic. My inner world is live, in colour and vibrant. It's hugely populated with people, animals, flowers and all manner of fantastical creatures. I plant trees in it, grow flowers, dance with faeries and sing with naiads. Not very many 30-something year-olds do that in their heads, from what I hear.

And I'm in no hurry to stop that. Keeping my imagination is a worthy swap off for not getting good sleep, I say. And when I can, I sleep in, and that helps. I average enough sleep that I'm healthy, and making sure I exercise and eat right always helps.

I am, however, always open to suggestion. If you have a fool-proof tip, or at least one that always works for you, I'd love to hear it :)

Enjoy your sleep, and may it be full and overflowing with dreams


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