Sleep is Hard

Sleep. It used to seem so simple. Then suddenly, like a thief in the night (literally), insomnia destroys the one routine that always felt safe and peaceful.

Cat sleeping tongueIf you resonate with this post’s title at all, and if you understand the woes of insomnia, this blog is for you.

If you’ve tried the chamomile teas, the epsom salt baths, the soothing music, and the healthy sleep hygiene habits, but STILL spend more than half of your designated sleep time wide awake, this blog is for you.

If you dread bedtime due to the inevitable tossing and turning, coupled with a constant stream of well-meaning “calm thoughts” turned panicky, this blog is for you.

I, too, know the frustration of insomnia and its mind games. Beginning nearly two and a half years ago, sleep disturbance became a thing in my life. It’s crazy for me to think that once upon a time I would put my head on a pillow and wake up eight hours later—but here we are.

So why start an insomnia blog? Three main catalysts motived me to finally launch “Kat the Insomniac”: a need for understanding, the example of an inspiring blogger/author, and a desire to generate hopeful community amid discouraging circumstances.

Voyage Toward Understanding 

As stated above, insomnia likes to play mind games.

One familiar game starts with the body saying, “Um, excuse me, could really use some serious Z’s tonight,” and the brain responding with, “Yeah OK, I’ll chill out tonight … ” Then once you lie down, it yells: “PSYCH!”

That said, it’s no surprise that battling chronic sleeplessness tends to bring on a good ol’ fashioned case of the anxiety bug. I found myself in therapy beginning this past January, and one of the first suggestions my therapist made involved writing about my experiences and feelings so I can better understand them.

I began journaling here and there, but I found it hard to stay consistent. Part of the reason is that writing someplace where no one can read it feels like a waste of time. Plus, I yearn for connection and know that understanding myself will only get me so far.

This brings me to the two-fold goal of learning more about myself as I write, but also learning about the other bloggers I meet—their struggles, their views, and the obstacles they’ve overcome. After all, there’s nothing new under the sun, so why not share the enlightenment with one another?

The Sara Frankl Legacy

A second catalyst came from a book my dad lent me called “Choose Joy” by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. He told me I would really like it, and that—”by the way”—I’m related to the author.

Within 30 pages of reading, I became a sobbing mess. I felt as though I knew Sara personally, and like she knew me. Sara suffered from a terminal disease that left her homebound, dealing with enormous amounts of pain, and extremely limited in her abilities. Yet through it all, Sara found ways to choose joy in her daily living despite the heavy burden she carried.

I read my husband some of the book’s passages, and we realized I had recently said many of Sara’s lines nearly verbatim, but in regards to my chronic insomnia. Sara and I were both journalists, both from Northeast Iowa, both musical, and both learning how to let go of so many expectations we put on ourselves. Oh, and my dad later expanded on the relation bit by telling me Sara’s grandma was my grandpa’s sister—in other words, we’re second cousins.

Though Sara and I never met, I’ve suddenly felt a deep emotional connection to this woman who learned to make the best of the life she was given. Reading Sara’s book gave me the extra push I needed to start my own blog, where I also hope to help others choose joy amid frustrating circumstances.

Generating Community

The final catalyst came from a place of deep conviction. I’ve been praying and pondering during the past several months on how I can continue to love and serve people, while also respecting my body’s demanding need for rest.

In one of my first therapy sessions, the therapist assured me I’m not alone in my sleeplessness—I think her exact words were: “None of my clients sleep … in fact, I don’t think any of my friends sleep.”

Hearing this gave me an odd sense of comfort, and it finally hit me that there’s an entire community of insomniacs out there also trying to get through life’s demands sans sleep. Light. Bulb.

My vision is that this blog can generate a community of hope for my fellow ‘somnis (yup, made that word up and I’m going with it). But I don’t want it to be exclusive—I also hope the community expands beyond us non-sleepers. Anxiety, depression, chronic pain, hormone imbalance/infertility, autoimmune disease—all of these can put frustrating limits on our lives and abilities. And it totally sucks.

However, I do believe there’s a purpose behind these struggles. Maybe one of those purposes involves uniting us in our pain and hurt, so we can encourage each other and bear burdens together. If so, I’m all in … and I’d love for you to join me.

Peace and blessings,

Kat, (semi-professional) insomniac

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