Anyone who has suffered a severe head trauma can attest that sometimes, especially during high levels of stress, insomnia can be unrelenting. For me, when it hits, all I can do is either take my prescription that knocks me out or simply endure the sleepless nights. Starting Saturday night, because of the stresses of the last couple of weeks, my insomnia hit me with a vengeance, and from Saturday night until yesterday, I got about 20 hours sleep total. Unfortunately, my prescription ran out, and I haven’t had the opportunity to go to my doctor for a refill. All I could do was lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and hope for sleep.
For me, when it occurs, my mind races out of control. No matter how hard I try, I can’t slow the wave of thoughts surging through my brain. Usually, these thoughts are about books four and five, imagining scenes and prewriting major plot points. I tell myself the alarm will be sounding in six hours and I need to stop, but the scene keeps replaying, over and over. I have to get up in five hours, but the story keeps gnawing at me. Four hours, no relief. Finally, sometime around 3:00 AM, I’ll drift off into a fitful doze, and when the alarm sounds at 6:00 AM, I feel as if I’ve not rested at all.
Some nights, like Sunday night/Monday morning, I give up, get out of bed, and attempt to be productive. Monday, I got to the office before 4:00 AM and graded 20 essays before my 8:00 class. By noon, I was so exhausted I could barely stand myself, so I went home and napped for about three hours before getting up and starting the whole maddening process over again. It’s frustrating to be completely exhausted, hardly able to function, yet lay in the dark room with a racing mind unable to drift off to sleep. During these episodes, a few times I’ve attempted to write, hoping that would ease the insomnia, but the quality of writing is pure rubbish, so much so that I often have to discard all of it and restart fresh.
I’ve lived with these bouts since 1989. For the first few years, they happened quite often. Then, I discovered that my natural sleep pattern post-accident is from about 4:00 AM to around noon. Something about the trauma shifted my internal clock, so for many years, I taught mostly night classes and wrote from midnight to 3:00 or 4:00 AM. While I was able to maintain this schedule I rarely suffered an episode and usually slept a regular 7-8 hours most nights. Unfortunately, today, my work schedule doesn’t allow for this. I have to be to work by 8:00 AM most days, so I have to be in bed and asleep by midnight to get at least 6 hours of sleep. Most of the time, I can do it, but I’ve found over the last 3-4 years that I’ve had many more frequent bouts with insomnia, especially when stress levels get high.
To further complicate matters, when I don’t get enough sleep, my neurological symptoms flare up as well. Since February, the worst of the issues have mostly subsided, but after a sleepless night, all of them come back. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I shook, trembled, and stumbled around all day. It was like reliving October, November, and December all over again. Today, after a good night’s sleep, I feel much better, and most of the issues have eased off. I’m hoping to get my prescription refilled next week and not have to suffer through another bout of this any time soon. That’s all for now. Hope everyone gets plenty of rest tonight.