Insomnia Sucks: a post about rest and relaxation

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Do you know what? I'm flipping tired.

Out of the past seven or so nights, I have had one decent nights' sleep. My old friend insomnia has arrived back in my life. Night after night I have stared at the ceiling, mentally wired but so physically exhausted that I don't want to get up.

It sounds silly when I write it down but I find insomnia really stressful. I feel on edge the moment I get into bed, because I'm afraid of another bad night, and as the hours start ticking by I start to feel panic rising up like a physical thing in my throat. My heart starts racing, my mouth goes dry. And my brain? My brain works overtime.

I think all night long. I think of the mundane and the happy and the heart-wrenchingly sad. I think about the endless amount of things I have to do around the house. I think of all the things we need to do to book our holiday. I think about the blog posts I'd like to write. I think of the dreams that I have for the future. I think of church stuff, I think of life stuff, I think about people I love. I worry about money. I stress about time. And then I get The Fear, which I have spoken about before, and I am still amazed at how strong it is when I'm tired: I think of all the things that I could do wrong for my daughter, all the ways that I feel I am not measuring up as a parent, and then all the ways that the world could hurt or endanger her.

Sometimes I just lay there crying. Because I've thought of something sad that isn't actually happening.

That is what lack of sleep does to me.

Last night, I awoke in the night once and that was it, there was no going back to sleep. It took an hour of trying not to think too much and then one-and-a-half Adam and Joe podcasts to get me to go back to sleep, and then what felt like five minutes later, I heard Jellybean calling 'Mama!' through the monitor. 6am. Time to get up.

When I'm tired, I'm grumpy. I don't deal with things very well. I'm also clumsy. To the point where, after Jellybean nodded off on me earlier, I managed to drop my phone on the floor where it seemed to explode upon contact (that's how loud the bang was) and then immediately tripped over one of her toys. (It was the dog, in case you're interested).

Basically, when I'm that tired, I don't function at 100%. I'm getting through the day - I might even enjoy it - but I'm not giving my all to it.

Sometimes life is like that.

Sometimes life ticks along and everything is good, and I am happy, but I am also just a bit 'bleh'. Don't get me wrong - I adore my loved ones and I love being a stay at home Mum right now. Everything in that respect is good. The 'bleh' comes more from a lack of taking care of myself.

I've been really hard on myself recently. I didn't realise until I was talking to Chris about it last night, but it is true. I've been so uncompromising in wanting to make myself better that I'm a) tiring myself out and b) not giving glory to God in the process.

I'm basically wanting the very best from myself without actually taking any time for myself.

I don't mean physical rest, or little treats, or anything like that. I don't need a trip to the spa or whatever. Luckily, working with children gave me a fairly realistic (but definitely not comprehensive!) idea of what it means to be a parent. Essentially, it means little to no time to yourself. Chris and I get this. Time to rest is precious: therefore, it needs to be used well.

That's the key.

The key is to fill my spare time - including spare thought time - with good things. (I have a lot of this: although my hands are often busy in the daytime, my head is sometimes a nice blank canvas. Especially when Jellybean wants me to read Peppa Pig Dinosaur Park for the 1000th time. I know that baby off by heart.) I've realised that resting is about more than just my head on a pillow, or sinking into a bath, although I love those things too. What I need is nourishment.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in Ordinary Life Stuff - our routines, our chores, our things to do - that I start to forget what I'm passionate about. It reminds me a bit of when I was working as a nursery nurse. Sometimes I'd start to feel a bit dry and uninspired in my job, and then we'd go on a training conference or something, and I'd start to remember why I loved it in the first place and I'd go on to try new things.

It's the same principle for my life now.

I need to be inspired.

I need to remember what I'm passionate about. Raising my child, yes, but raising her well. Yes. I'm passionate about having a healthy marriage. I'm passionate about equal rights for women and societal pressure and about teaching young girls to be media savvy. I'm passionate about reading and writing and I am inspired by blog posts and books. I'm passionate about the Bible studies I do and how much the word of God has to teach me. I'm passionate about the power of music and its importance in our house.

Passion for life is something to be cultivated.

To me, enjoying the gifts that God has given me is a really good way to remind myself of the Giver.

To go through life dull and bored is not doing His precious gifts justice.

To go through life uninspired to make a difference is neglecting the strengths that God has bestowed.

I don't expect to change the world. I don't expect to be a shiny happy Christian who never has any problems. I don't expect to always be 100% on fire and ready to go.

I do expect to be thankful and to be aware of how blessed I am and to give God my all.

Which is not a lot to give, but it seems to be enough for Him.

The thing is, everyone is inspired by different things, and that is good. For some people, sitting down to write an essay-length blog post is about as relaxing as I would find a page full of equations to solve. I get that. I also get that I am allowed to be tired sometimes. And that, yes, sometimes I need to extend a little grace to myself.

But I am determined to cultivate the things that inspire me. I am determined to fill our house with music and laughter and fill pages with words and to deliberately read and discuss things that make my heart set ablaze again for the issues that God has given me to do something about.


Trying to concentrate whilst extremely tired is kind of tricky though.

I am determined to make my down time count. I am determined to give my heart and head nourishment when I rest.

Maybe then I can start sleeping at night ;) who knows? I've tried everything else. In fact, if anyone has a good cure for insomnia that they know of, please let me know...

And here's a fair warning for you: I'm in writing mode right now. I'm trying to stretch myself creatively by working a bit harder. Expect many more posts to come. If not, please ask me where I am and shame me into actually doing it. ;)

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