Late last night I was playing Words with Friends. It was 2:30 a.m. I was on the couch, in my own house of insomnia. Insomnia makes a visit to me frequently. I feel great when I can string several days to a week together without a visit from this affliction. Usually, it visits when I am vulnerable. I am most susceptible at times of transition, travel, anxiety, or self-imposed deadlines. It is then that I find I am in my house of insomnia. ‘
Over the years, I have found ways to deal with being awake in the middle of the night. If something is worrying me, I get up and write it down. This seems to stop the flow of concerns that rattle through my brain in the deepest of the dark. If I just find myself awake at an odd hour, as I did last night, I wait a short time – maybe thirty minutes or so to see if a state of slumber returns. If not, I get up and make a mug of decaffeinated tea. Herbal tea might work for some but generally, I do not care for the flowery taste or pungent aromas that are associated with teas that are something other than black or orange pekoe. Holding the warm mug in my hands, I curl up in the dark with a fleece blanket tucked in around me to ward off the coolness of a quiet house. Somehow, the heat of the mug on my hands is comforting. Occasionally, this will be enough to induce a head nod and remind me to put my tea down on the nearest surface, returning me to bed.
If none of that works, I turn to playing Words with Friends or reading a book – if I happen to be in the middle of one. I am well versed in the rules of sleep hygiene and know that the glow of the screen can increase episodes of insomnia. But, I also find that occupying my mind with the activity of finding words from the random set of letters I am given works to pull my mind away from midnight worries.
So, what do I think my problem was last night? I am sure it was multi-faceted. We are entering a transitional period – my husband is changing jobs this week. I think he is slightly nervous, at least he shows signs of feeling some stress from embarking on a new phase in his already long career. Both my high schoolers had the flu this week. This necessitated a flurry of emails to teachers because their illness happened to fall the days final exams were scheduled. Although I know they have time to make up their exams, I still worry about them starting a new term when the old one is not quite wrapped up. I was looking forward to a relaxed weekend of cleaning out backpacks and aniticpating fresh starts. Unfortunately, with their absences, this is not the weekend we will experience. Monday is a scheduled day off from school and by then, I’ll have had at least one son home for a week during times when I usually have time to myself. I like the time I have to myself. Monday also starts a new semester of graduate courses for me. I need the intellectual challenge, so I am happy to anticipate the return of something I am doing solely for myself. Christmas has come and gone. I was late decorating and hence, I am late taking decorations down. I still have one room full of nutcrackers and Christmas village pieces that need putting away. In addition, we’ve decided to re-make one of our bedrooms into a writing room/office space for me. The idea is great but looking for new furniture is daunting. We’ve already been to three major stores to look for filing cabinets, desks, and a daybed and came up empty. Our last excursion to look for these pieces was after dinner last night. I know I returned home feeling disappointed and frustrated. I think this was what left the door open for a visit from insomnia last night.
Last week, I applied for a new job which necessitated revising my resume from four pages to two, writing a descriptive cover letter, and contacting references. All of this took time, which of course took time away from some other things I feel self-imposed pressure to do (keeping up with laundry, caring for my teens who have the flu, and putting decorations away). I have not heard anything as of yet. I know it is early. Still, it makes me anxious. Was my time in preparing the application a waste, yet again?
It seems that everyone is moving forward and I am standing still. Unable to make progress on the things I want to accomplish, such as finding office furniture, has really frustrated me. For me, frustration and anxiety lead to my house of insomnia. It is a place I do not want to be. It is a place I wish to avoid. For when insomnia visits I am irritable and angry during the day.
My hope is that we will have a “normal” week soon. What normal is; I am not quite sure. But, I know this past week has been far from normal. And, with the new job transition, the start new term at the high school, my sons making up their finals, my graduate semester starting, and trying to find furniture for my new office space, I am hoping February will bring a new normal. Yes, I am looking forward to a “new” normal that includes fewer visits to my house of insomnia.