My bedroom scares me. When I walk into the dark room at night and slowly pull back the covers on my bed, I feel the anxious ball of energy beginning to form in my stomach. I hear the thoughts telling me my insomnia could come back - that there's no guarantee I'll get the sleep I need tonight. I struggled with severe insomnia for the first few months of my daughter's life. It was the beginning of my Postpartum Anxiety and by far the worst symptom I struggled with. I have waited to write about it because I still fear its unwelcomed return. When I talk out loud about it I'm afraid I might awaken that part of my brain again - the part that kept me up all night knowing I had a high needs baby to take care of the next day and everyday thereafter.
I think I could fill a book with my experience of insomnia and how it will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. It's so difficult to explain to someone who's never had it. People think that when they've stayed up all night out of choice or endured a sleepless night only to make up for the lost sleep the next day, that they understand. Oh no, there is a reason that criminals are made to stay awake for hours on end during interrogation. That reason is because insomnia is a form of pure torture. It's like having a monster screaming in your face all night, "I will not let you sleep." You hear the screams as your body simultaneously is trying to shut down - to get rest. Your brain won't let it though because your anxiety is in control now and you might as well give up.
I tried giving up here and there. I would leave my bed to read a book. Once I even tiptoed into my daughter's room while she slept and organized the clothes in her closet. I might as well be doing something right? Experts suggest you leave your bed after about 30 minutes of sleeplessness and return after you've distracted your brain for a bit. In short, nothing the so-called experts suggested worked for me. I felt doomed. And when I started to believe I would never be able to sleep well again, I lost hope in my ability to be me - to function as Becky, mother, wife, colleague, sister, daughter, etc. In sets a deep depression and relentless anxiety. The depression and anxiety gained more and more power which diminished the chances of me sleeping ever more. The cycle had started and it's ferociousness was no match for this scared new mama.
After trying every natural remedy known to man, I began the long process of trying out different medications to break the cycle. The journey to finding the perfect treatment for me was painstakingly long. I was sleeping an average of 3-4 hours every 3-4 days and if you were one of those people who suggested I nap during the day, I would have given you the death stare I'm sure. Napping was not an option for someone with Postpartum Anxiety like mine so I shuffled through the days on the very limited amount of sleep I was getting. Because of the support of some great professionals and my own built-in support system, I found a combination of treatments that worked for me.
Last night I slept from 9pm-5am, woke for a few minutes to check the time and my baby on the video monitor, and back to sleep I went until 6:20am when my baby woke. I'm looking for wood to knock on as I write this. I'm on my way to being me again and I can't tell you how sweet a feeling that is, but I can't help but wonder how long my bedroom will haunt me.