How to Survive a Night of Insomnia

Lately I’ve been getting up at 11pm, 1am, or most recently, 2am, and despite my best efforts, have been unable to fall back asleep. I’ve tried everything from meditation, medication, to alcohol, and I still can’t nod off. Unfortunately I tend to do stupid and impulsive things at night, especially just before dawn. I’ve compiled a list of things for my fellow insomniacs to do while they’re up in the early morning.

1. Read a happy book.

Don’t read anything scary. Not a thriller. Not a mystery novel. A book. A happy book.

2. Try one night cap a week.

I take a shot of whisky when I get really, really desperate. Just one. If you struggle with alcohol I’m sorry I wrote this part and please don’t do this. It doesn’t put me to sleep but it calms my nerves and I actually don’t do stupid things due to my anxiety and rumination.

3. Write something.

I work on my book, The Disability-Friendly Wedding Planner, blog posts, and my 27 memoirs, as well as my running diary.

4. Listen to binaural beats.

These have never in my life put me to sleep but they help with pain and anxiety.

5. Hop on Twitter and make friends.

Twitter is my favorite social media platform. I can spend hours on there discovering new things.

6. Daydream on Pinterest, but only a little.

Pinterest can be triggering for me, so I tend to stay off of it. But sometimes it can be fun.

7. Virtually volunteer.

I virtually volunteer at a few places and get my work done overnight, because I’m going to feel horrible during the day anyway.

8. Play with the doggy.

This is the best part about early mornings. I have an elderly dog, and she’s only active in the mornings and evenings. She sits in my lap, dances around, and acts cute. Unfortunately the affection ends after I feed her at 6am. Gee, I wonder why!

I hope this helps some of you. Insomnia can be a real bear. I haven’t figured out the cure for it yet. We’re all in this together!

Gasping for Air

Many times I wake up at 2 or 3 AM gasping for air. It takes me a few minutes to catch my breath. The whole time this is going on, my husband is fast asleep beside me, oblivious to the world.

I don’t know what a marriage is, other than it’s a struggle. Sometimes huge explosions happen in a seemingly innocent manner after dinner to be repaired in the kitchen in the morning. There are those times when the explosions last for weeks. Usually that’s because I can hold a pretty hefty grudge.

I don’t want to put myself down. I don’t wanna put anybody down. But it’s down to yourself to get up out of the muck and mire.

Jesus said, “Pick up your mat and walk!” If you want it, you have to receive it.

Those are my thoughts of the day.

These thoughts are echoed in my book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens, available in print and as an e-book.

2am Pain Flare Prayer Time Reflections

Crown of thorns with text “Exploring faith and pain”

Very often I wake up at 2am in intense pain. The pain continues until sunrise; I’m unable to fall back asleep. I do many things while the pain has set on. Mainly I read, write, and design. My largest comfort by far is prayer and some light Bible reading.

I wrote a piece for the Mighty entitled How My Faith Gives Me Comfort and Companionship With Chronic Illness about this phenomenon, how I read through the Gospels aloud and cry, knowing the Savior himself also had chronic pain for his last time on Earth. We serve a God who was disabled in the flesh for a time as a human being, yet was still perfect. I can’t think of a greater comfort.

Tonight I started out by thanking God for the gift of his son Jesus, for giving me someone I could always relate to. Someone who could show me I did not have to strive to be accepted, to be loved, to love myself back, even in the midst of all this pain I was in in the middle of a world that did not understand me.

Perhaps this is something of what it means in John 1 where it is written: “The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Possibly very obviously so, as no one understood Jesus and he understood what was in a person, so he understands us when no one understands us.

As I contemplate these things after my prayer of thanksgiving for the Christ and the intricacies of my husband, I felt the pain lift a little after a while. Miraculous healing or redirecting of the mind? Probably both. God gives us peace and hope when we focus on Him.

Peace be with you,

M. O’Shea

Midnight Hour Darkness With Fibromyalgia

It’s been a long week of insomnia.

My head is spinning. I’m getting married in less than a month. I am going to likely miss major deadlines this week. I feel like a pulsating object sending electric shock through my body. This insurmountable equation seems like an impossible mountain of dirty laundry in a filthy, neglected room managed by a debilitatingly lazy person with low self-esteem. This room is my room and the person is me.

This is self-judgment. It is my pain. But it is my pain and my own to keep. I do not wish it on anyone else nor myself. I cry in the darkness of my room and I want to keep the lights off, especially my smartphone. Each article heightens every emotion I feel that maybe I do not belong on this planet. I am an alien with a defective body. Everyone else is a functioning, normative human body. In this moment I am consumed by these defective thoughts and I know I am using the improper psychological terms. But it is midnight and I know I need my Epsom salt bath or else I will not make it to tomorrow. My body has been too exhausted to change clothes, wash my face, bend over to run water and get in the tub. But I know if I do this I will get better.

It is hard to make the choice to get better. Mind puzzles our brains play on us keep us trapped inside our ailing bodies, keeping us from living our best lives. A choice as simple as getting in a bath tub turns into rocket science when my emotions have been taxed by relationships and how exactly one single person can change the world.

The truth is, no one person can change the world, not the entire world, alone. This is how I begin the process of forgiving myself for allowing my body to deteriorate to its current state, and also enable myself to arrive to the point of recognizing that it is not entirely my fault. I have a legitimate chronic illness. Despite anything I do, how many baths I take, how regular my yoga routine is, my supplement intake, my body has a mind of its own. It is 1 degree outside. Yes, there are ways I can help myself, sometimes. But this is preventative care. All the preventative care in the world cannot prevent a sleepless night and a pain flare. This is the way things are. Chronic illness does not have a magic get well quick formula, especially if you are treatment resistant with a complicated diagnosis like I do.

Pocket full of starlight: We are all different, our pain is all different, and yours is valid. If you are hurting tonight, it is not your fault, even if you did not do all the things today.

Pocket full of darkness: Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly. Please don’t judge yourself for judgeing. You’ll only start a vicious concentric circle within a circle.