10 Reasons I Don't Sleep at Night (A Mama Kat's prompt)

Courtesy of the writing prompt generator over at Mama Kat's.

I have chronic insomnia. It started intermittently in junior high, and it was full blown by the end of my freshman year in high school. For years, I was drinking my weight in caffeine and going like the Energizer Bunny. I really was like Abby from NCIS and her Kaf Pow, but my poison was Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke (whichever was readily available).  I remember being back stage at musical rehearsals with a 2 liter (yes a 2 liter) of Dr Pepper. I didn't drink it all in one night, but still it wasn't healthy. In college, a waiter at a restaurant we frequented just started bringing me my diet coke in 1 liter juice carafe. When I worked at Keynote, you could judge my day by how many cans of cherry coke were in my trash can. When we were on the road, I was usually driving, and was constantly caffeinating to keep on top of things.

Of course this lead to me being jittery and cranky. My stomach hated me and pretty much anything I put in it. I'm sure my heart wasn't a fan either. I had days when I was super hyper, and when I crashed it was ugly...really ugly. I would be paranoid. I would take things way too personally. There was usually crying myself to sleep involved. This "worked" in high school, college and while I was touring, but once I came off the road I knew things had to change.

Cutting back on the caffiene and not pushing myself too hard took time. Once I started taking better care of myself, dealing with the insomnia became easier. I wasn't sleeping any more than I did before, but my body handles it much better. I still have the occasional "bitch slap" of a crash, but the last really ugly one was before I was promoted to Assessment five years ago. I do not get strep and bronchitis every winter and spring (which was from wearing my self down and ignoring simple sinus infections).

Still the question remains: Why Don't I Sleep. Some reasons never change. They are the things that kept me awake in high school and they still haunt me now. Others are new developments.

  1. The oldest reason still on the books: I don't want to miss anything. As a little kid I would force myself to stay awake. I would throw temper tantrums when I was put to bed (and my parents would let me scream at the top of the stairs until I gave up). I would drag all my toys into my bed so I could play (until I passed out of course). Now it isn't nearly as dramatic, but the concept still rings true. What if someone needs me?
  2. My Dad. I worry about my dad. He has been through so much in the past year and I worry about how it is effecting him. I don't think he talks about what happened enough. He doesn't talk about mom and their past enough. I am very worried about the stress he puts on himself. He will eventually have another stroke, and he may not be strong enough to recover this time. Elder care is expensive. A good assisted living facility is not going to be cheap. We also have his prescriptions, doctor's appointments and other medical bills to worry about. My parents *did not* plan ahead, and were not exactly fiscally responsible. Figuring out his money situation can be stressful.
  3. Thunderstorms. Not all thunderstorms are severe. Not all thunderstorms spawn tornadoes. Still they put me on edge. It isn't a full blown anxiety attack anymore, but it is something I am more sensitive too. If I know they are coming, I am anxious. If there is one going on, I won't sleep
  4. My Nightmares: I have always had vivid and disturbing dreams. After the tornado, these dreams were now vivid nightmares. What my sister and I saw that night is something we will never forget. It will be what we see every time we close our eyes and fuel our nightmares for the rest of our lives. At first, it was just a literal memory nightmare on a continuous loop.  Now I still have those nightmares, but they have "matured." Being stuck in a dream where you are watching the people you care about most die like you are in a slasher movie isn't fun. Dreams where mom is alive that feel so real that it is devastating when you wake up. That is the stuff that makes me afraid to fall asleep. Once one of those nightmares wake me up, I'm done for the night.
  5. The other people I care about. I'm a hard person to get to know, but once you have made it onto my "friends list," I'll do just about anything to help you. That being said, I worry about my siblings, extended family and friends. 
  6. My stupid shoulder and back. Our car was picked up by the tornado and hit by quite a bit of debris. Both Amy and I were tossed around like rag dolls (and my seatbelt didn't lock right away, so that was interesting). My back *always* hurts right in the middle of my lower back (where I bounced off the car seat) and in my left shoulder. My sister wouldn't let go of the steering wheel, so after I made her duck I covered her head with my left hand. That left my arm to get thrown around even more. Some days, it hurts so badly  I can hardly handle it. Most days it is this constant ache that is just annoying enough to keep me from getting comfortable.
  7. I can't get warm. I'm always colder than everyone else, but at night I would like to be warm and cozy. Most nights this is a challenge. I really have no explanation or story to go with it.
  8. My bat like hearing. Okay one bonus of the tornado: it messed up my hearing. For almost a year, I was not the worlds lightest sleeper. I was still one, but it wasn't crazy like it was before. Now, my hearing is coming back. That is awesome for karaoke, but not so great for sleeping.
  9. My fear of sleeping through the alarm. I hate being late. One side effect of not falling asleep until 2 hours before your alarm goes off is that you may be so tired you sleep through your alarm.
  10. Being scared and feeling alone. I don't say this to get a pity party. When I am trying to sleep, there isn't anyone to talk to. I am alone, and anyone I might feel comfortable calling is probably asleep (I'm the crazy friend who's phone is on 24/7 and is usually awake). I always sleep better when there is at least someone there for me.
Your turn: What keeps you awake?


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