Who needs sleep?

The first time that I can remember not being able to sleep was over my degree exams, I was in my twenties. I suppose for some people it is entirely normal to react to a stressful situation in this way. This period was short lived, and I thought no more of it. It was after my friend  Michael died some years later that insomnia visited my life with an increased intensity, that never really entirely left.

There seem to be two main parts to insomnia, falling asleep and staying asleep. The falling asleep was an issue. I recall my Mum telling me that as a baby I never slept for more than a few hours and then was awake for the next six. She used to use a detuned radio to help me dose off, and this for me is something that mostly still works. Only now I have upgraded a detuned radio to YouTube meditations. I know that within a couple of minutes I will be in the marvellous land of shut eye. But then there’s part two.

The hour of 3am is an hour that I see too much of. Almost doesn’t matter what time I get to sleep, 3am is my sleep time homing beacon. I will wake up, and generally, I will recall all the things that I have been thinking about when I was asleep and then I will start to actively think about them in my more wakey up status. This aspect of insomnia is one that I have found to be especially harsh. During the small hours, I sometimes clean my house, play inane facebook games or a variety of other tasks, including online discussions with all my fellow insomniacs. By around five thirty, exhaustion kicks in and I can sleep. Sometimes.

Sometimes I think that my insomnia is a sort of tribute to Michael. I know that when he was diagnosed with cancer he almost stopped sleeping, eager to enjoy every moment that he had to its absolute fullest. And maybe that is something that I have latched onto too. So much of life is taken up with practicality, that it’s utterly essential for me to make use of all the time that I have. It is too easy to allow time to be sucked away.

So with this thought in my mind, whether I get a whole night’s sleep tonight or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is an enjoyment of my time. Whether I have a sleepy day and do very little, or ten blissful hours and wake up feeling like sunshine, embracing each day with as much or as little energy as I have is what is important. Today has been a sleepy one!

Map Point. What do I love to do?



My Mum

Last night I felt sort of sad, kind of reflective (if I watched television, I possibly wouldn’t have time to think about so many things. Maybe..) and I thought about my Mum and what it must have been like for her to watch me grow up, just as I see my own daughter’s life emerging. And I thought that for my Mum, it must have been hard.

She must have seen a quiet sort of child, always reading, always making things. Often my Mum now comments on how many things my daughter makes and I love the similarity between us. She must also have seen a child who was woeful at tidying up, and I recall often being told to go up to the bathroom and sort out my messy face. This is another similarity that I share with my young one!

As I started secondary school, she must have seen a girl who was becoming increasingly lost in her world of books, a child who struggled to remember to do her homework, a child who was starting to have panic attacks. I remember my Mum often asking me if anything was wrong, anything she could do to help. And no, there really wasn’t, because I didn’t really understand enough of anything at that stage to have the words to explain.

She saw a daughter who was put on anti-depressants around age fourteen, and that same child was requesting counselling, although she still didn’t know what it was she really wanted to talk about. I think that this must have been sad for her. I guess it is incredibly easy to see a life in terms of its bleakness. But at the same time, I know there is also a very different story running parallel.

She saw a daughter who played classical guitar and worked hard to achieve her gradings. A daughter who developed a lifelong passion for photography. A daughter who loved board games and talked about music and politics. A daughter that loved to dance. She saw her child achieve academically and go on to university (thank you, Mum, for ironing my labcoat xx).

She also saw that child turn into a woman. A woman who has done so many different things, not necessarily things that she would have done, but things that I know she feels a sense of pride in. I think that sometimes it is good to reflect on the amazing people who have supported me, loved me unconditionally and had gargantuan patience with some of my endeavours! As a daughter looking at my Mum, looking at her as my parent, I see love.

Map Point. Where do I see love?