When I was a teenager I would wake up at 7 a.m. and wonder why I was still so tired. It would take me hours to really wake up. I was never fully alert even after I had showered, ate my breakfast, walked to school and yawned a thousand times through each regiment.
I can pinpoint the exact time I had my first migraine. I was 10. I can remember when I had my second migraine. I was 20. Each day of my life I have a headache. I know this is difficult for people to understand but it is true. I will often wake up with a gnawing pain and it can last for several hours. I rarely take drugs to soothe the pain because Aspirin and Advil damage my stomach lining.
If by chance, I come down with an aura migraine, my day can be totally ruined. Sometimes my whole week. An aura migraine is difficult to explain to people who’ve never had one. Basically I see stars, or waves; they start to appear in the periphery of my eye before they consume all of my vision. I literally will be unable to see. A person’s nose, sometimes a whole face will be missing. I become extremely sensitive to sound, I get nauseous, irritable, confused, the list goes on.
And then of course, when the symptoms subside after 30 minutes to an hour, I get a headache. Sometimes it isn’t so bad, I can manage through the day, but other times, I have a dull pain that can last up to two weeks.
In some instances I will get cluster aura migraines, which means I will get several of these headaches in one week.
On top of these health problems I now live with insomnia. I used to think that this was a recent issue I’ve been dealt with, but when I reflect on how tired I was in high school I think that perhaps I was experiencing the symptoms of a sleeping disorder then.
For those who have insomnia you’ll know that nothing can really solve the problem. I take Melatonin but of course, that only helps me fall asleep, not stay asleep.
My insomnia is similar to others. It can often take me a couple of hours each night to lose consciousness. Not always, but on average it takes a long time. My mind does not shut off, and I regularly talk in my sleep.
I wake up several times a night to subtle disturbances. It will then take me several minutes to find peace again — sometimes I never do.
The effects of a sleeping disorder like this are far-reaching. I’m irritated easily, I have little patience, I can lose my temper, I’m moody, I’m exhausted all the time and I can become sad, often despondent. The worst of all this is that I get confused easily, and there have been occasions, while at work, when I’ve talked gibberish. What does that mean? Well, I’ll speak thinking that I’m forming words but in reality, I’m talking in literal gibberish. This happened in my last job after I had been awake for over 38 hours and my manager almost called the ambulance. When I came about she sent me home, but not before I convinced her that this was my normal.
A lot of people will observe me and believe that I’m flighty, sometimes they’ll think I’m even really stupid. It’s true that I can lose my train of thought, or appear easily distracted, but that’s usually because the stimuli is overwhelming. My brain can’t process all the information it’s receiving because it hasn’t had the proper rest it needs to continue functioning.
My main problem, if I’m to be critical, is that I can’t shut my mind off. I’m constantly thinking about everything, from the mundane to the profound. I’m highly sensitive so I reflect and analyze my behaviour, what I’ve said, or how I’ve acted that may have negatively contributed to someone’s day. The glass is always half empty, rarely do I acknowledge the good deeds I’ve done.
I’m learning to accept my personal limitations. On any given day I will make mistakes, or offend someone, but I have to forgive myself for not being at my personal best. I know this all sounds crazy to those who are naturally less introspective (that’s not a judgement), but I’m an empath, which means that I am highly sensitive to the emotions of those around me. If you’re curious you can read this article about the 30 traits of an empath.
I’ve developed sleeping techniques to help, for instance I work on finding my breath (that’s no joke, many of us don’t know how to properly breathe), I eat sunflower seeds and before I go to bed I have two cups of chamomile tea.
Despite all this I’m on average a pretty happy person. I’ve learned to cope with these health challenges, and I’m thankful that they’re not quite as bad as other people with the same conditions.
Though they are chronic problems, they’re treated well enough through diet and exercise. It’s not an overall cure but I’ve learned that most health issues are aided by eating right and going to the gym. I am adverse to taking pharmaceutical drugs if I can naturally treat my symptoms.
Last night I got about three hours of sleep. I woke up, tried to snooze, couldn’t, so instead I went for a run. I’m determined to get through the day as best I can and hope that slumber remembers me tonight.
So now you know a little more about me! Just thought I’d share.