On Insomnia, Daily Routines, and Chronic Pain

I haven’t been sleeping well# for the last two months.

It started with steadily increasing back pain, compounded by thin, soft, travel mattresses. Even after I returned home, and I was sleeping in my own bed again, I still struggled to manage the pain and insomnia.

I had a procedure* that relieved a significant amount of the back pain, but I still couldn’t sleep normally.

I missed catching up with several people because I overslept. I want to get to sleep. I want to wake up “on time”. But I feel exhausted all the time, and sometimes, I just want to lie in bed and do nothing.

Other times, I feel exhausted and want to sleep, then get really frustrated when I can’t. Of course, this frustration doesn’t help me sleep at all.

Maybe it’s an emotional holdover from a lot of stressful events in the past year. Maybe it’s because I have friends on Facebook and Twitter in other timezones. Maybe I just like staying up late and reading. Maybe I’m enjoying being able to play computer games.

Maybe it just feels good not being in pain and being able to lie around comfortably. Maybe it’s cold§ and I don’t want to get out of bed. Maybe I’m socially isolated and lonely. Maybe I have depression. Maybe it’s because I’m not working or studying right now.

There’s no single, simple switch for sleep.

But I am confident that, just like I have many times before, I can pick up the pieces, reset my schedule, and return to more typical sleep patterns. It just takes time, patience, and, ironically, being relaxed about it all.~

Edit: I used the same footnote symbol twice. Oops!



# Initially, I wasn’t sleeping very many hours. Now, I’m not sleeping typical hours. While I’m not a stickler for social conformity, it helps being awake at the same times as the people who live near me.

* A radiofrequency neurotomy, where pain nerves are numbed semi-permanently+ using a heated needle.

+ In most cases, people experience pain relief for 6-24 months. In my experience, the pain relief has been permanent in some areas, and lasts about 18 months in other areas.

While I often enjoy irony, the irony of not being able to sleep, because I’m so frustrated that I can’t get to sleep, isn’t very amusing. Particularly at 4am.

§ And maybe I don’t live in the hemisphere that experiences warmer weather in May.

And if you feel tempted to give me advice on mental illness at this point, maybe I don’t need it right now. Perhaps when I’m feeling better?

~ And maybe, just maybe, I like footnotes. A lot. They’re much better for the flow of the text than long, bracketed statements. Of course, short interjections are fine in brackets. (Don’t you think?)

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