The lost summer of 2013.
(Note: I've had this post in drafts for months, but for all that time, it just seemed too fresh, too close to share. Now that we are in 2014, I feel like I can let this go.)
At 29, I largely take my health for granted. I expect to wake up each morning, get ready for the day, work 8 or 9 hours, come home, enjoy time with Adrian and friends, call my family and eventually go back to bed. All without pain or fatigue. I never worry about how many stairs stand between me and my next class. Or if I will be in too much pain to even begin the day.
I recognize this as a gift, but I often don't realize just how valuable a gift it is.
This past Spring, I started seeing a doctor relatively regularly, for reasons I am not really comfortable discussing yet. I hadn't regularly seen a doctor since I was a child so having appointments every two or three weeks was a bit shocking. I tend to avoid medications about as much as I avoid doctors, so when my doctor prescribed three different medications at once, I was anxious and unsure. But I began taking them.
Unfortunately, one of these medications deeply effected my sleep patterns. For much of June, July and parts of August, I rarely slept. Days would pass and mentally, I felt beyond exhausted, but each night sleep eluded me. Of course, I tried everything. Over the counter sleep aids, melatonin, relaxing baths, TV, books, soothing music, anxiety medications. All with little to no change. Some mornings, I would wake Adrian for work and sob deeply when he asked, "Did you sleep at all?" I was so tired and frustrated.
But more than just the physical exhaustion, the mental exhaustion took the largest toll. During the day, I couldn't concentrate. Meeting friends for coffee left me feeling drained and detached. I felt like I was floating as they talked about their lives. Where I normally felt connected and engaged, this summer I felt alone and foggy. Slowly through out those months, I saw less and less of friends, I stopped blogging, I ignored phone calls and let go of some many activities and relationships I had once cared so much about. I knew it was the lack of sleep, but I felt absolutely powerless to make any changes.
I became afraid of the night, knowing that my darkest of demons came out in those midnight hours and that no one was there but myself. As I've written on here before, I've struggled with anxiety in the past few years and anxiety thrives on hours upon hours with nothing to do but think. In those quiet hours, as Adrian slept, I'd imagine only the worst of scenarios. The next morning he'd ask why I hadn't woken him up. But I just couldn't bear to wake him to share those terrible hours with him when I knew he'd have to work the next day.
As the school year neared, I became increasingly anxious about my ability to work in such a state. I was beginning a new role at work, one I was quite nervous to begin, and my insomnia merely compounded my anxiety.
In the beginning of August, after a few weeks on a prescription sleeping pill, I decided that no matter what, I would no longer sleep at all during the day. I forced myself to stay awake, accepting invitations with friends, beginning work meetings, doing anything I could find to get me up and out of the house. Eventually, as my body became accustomed to the pills and as I wore myself out day after day, sleep found me once again.
And as life returned to some semblance of normalcy, I realized just how unlike myself I had become. I began calling friends and family more frequently and thinking of new projects and work to throw myself into. All those little loves I had missed all summer long.
Truthfully, I am not entirely sure why I feel so compelled to write about this. Maybe to have a record of it, to remind myself of what happened to that lost summer. Or maybe to process through that time and how it effected me. Or maybe to connect with someone else who has struggled with insomnia and the shell of a person you become.
Or maybe to remind myself just how lucky I am to be waking up each morning, knowing that when the night comes, I'm no longer afraid. I am so thankful to be in a better place, to be sleeping and to feel like myself again. I am lucky to once again be healthy and thoroughly happy.
Labels: Life Stories