The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Aggressive wakefulness

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The last couple of nights I’ve spent hours in the middle of them aggressively awake.

I don’t mean I’ve been shouting and beating up my pillow, rather my head has been shouting and beating up me with never ending fears, concerns, worries, embarrassments, regrets, injustices, anxieties, doubts, uncertainties, qualms, misgivings and anything else it can chuck at me to prevent me from returning to sleep.

After 3 years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and many more of crap sleeping patterns, I have found ways of generally dealing with those 4am frettings that mostly work.

Focusing on breathing; detached observation of the thoughts as they rise up then float away; understanding the darkest hours of the night are never going to solve problems best dealt with in the light of day, so a good night’s rest eclipses all other priorities.

But no, not just now. I seem to have lost these hard won skills. Anything and everything, from the mildly probable to the downright ridiculous, is leaping into my head and slapping me forcefully about before I get pounced on and pinned down by the next thought and elbowed in the teeth.

Forget Queensbury Rules, these attacks are dirty, underhand and vicious.

Unbroken refreshing sleep: a faint and blurry memory from times long since past. I wonder if we’ll ever meet again.
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14 comments

hope said...

Oh lord, you're turning into a.....woman! :)

Seems when I need sleep the most, my brain goes into hyper drive and I can't find the switch to turn it off. I was once told it was because women need to place things in neat, tidy mental compartments while the male of the species shoves them all into one box, slams down the lid and goes to sleep.

If I ever do find that switch, you'll be the first person I share that info with. Until then, here's wishing you pleasant thoughts.

Hmmm...ever thought of counting politicians making speeches instead of sheep? That puts most people to sleep.

Anna van Schurman said...

Please take earliest possible flight to Philadelphia. Our pup doesn't like the crate and wakes up at 3, 4:30, 5:30 barking and howling. We could really use your help, so we could get some rest. Many thanks.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Kim, if you insist on being up and alert during the wee small hours, why not go up the road a few clicks and watch over one of my sites for me in Lesmahagow. It'll save me a fortune, and I'll provide you with a small shack and a thermos for your trouble.

PI said...

I do hope you can get those learned skills back. I know from experience how vital they are when your brain is in turmoil. Don't let it get you down to the extent that you forget to do things like physical exercise and vigorous walking. Hope it gets better.

Charlie said...

I'm thinking it's the anti-depressants which, after a while, cause all the fears, concerns, etc. you're talking about.

Sarah said...

sometimes, i "hmmmmmmm" in my head, just to get it to shut up. it's weird, but it works for me. internal white noise and all that.

Charlie's got a good point.. A.D.'s made me wiggy.

savannah said...

i wish i had an answer, sugar! nothing is more nerve wracking than waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again. i wish we had a remote for our brains - on/off/mute... xoxox

Z said...

Having, on occasion, been there too, I can only suggest two other options.

1 Go downstairs and make a cup of tea. Drink it and go straight back to bed. Indeed, if your tossing and turning have woken your other half, take her a cup too and drink it in bed.

or

2 Wake up your other half. Sex is good for the soul, the body and the mind.

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - unfortunately politicians speeches just tend to wind me up and get me riled, so I have to avoid them

Anna - well if you want to pay for the flight, I'll give it some serious consideration :)

Jimmy - a small shack, eh? I've always wondered what it would be like to have a small shack of my own. "Kim's Shack" Yes, I like the sound of it

Pat - one of the unfortunate side effects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is physical exercise and vigorous walking just aren't possible. I'll collapse in a heap within a few minutes, but won't sleep any better, just feel sick with tiredness

Charlie - I am slowly weaning myself off them. 3 months or so ago I dropped by a third, and about a month back I dropped by the same amount. I'm keeping an eye out for side effects, but I don't think this was a part of it

Sarah - the worst is when you get a tune you hate stuck in your head and can't get rid of it at 4am

Savannah - if you had an answer, you'd make a fortune :)

Z - tea is one of the worst things you can do because of the caffeine. And sex isn't so much fun when you're tired, anxious and cranky, and your partner is in a bad mood because you've woken her up in the middle of the night.

Z said...

Ah - indeed, caffeine doesn't keep me awake, and I drink tea weak anyway. I don't think it's the tea, however, as much as behaving as if all I want is a soothing drink, which I often have before going to bed anyway, so it feels part of sleep-preparation.

And my husband and I love those sneaked lovemaking sessions once in a while - it reduces anxiety and promotes sleep. You don't have the same expectations of lots of foreplay and sometimes we've been known to fall asleep, one on top of the other.

I'm trying to help, not to irritate, but if that's all I'm doing, I apologise. I do appreciate that a blog is for letting your feelings out and you aren't asking for help, and also that you've tried pretty well everything and you're not being negative in pointing out what won't work, because you know yourself better than anyone. Best wishes anyway, and I hope you sleep better soon.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I had an insomniac boss once who spent most of the night reading, listening to music, doing crosswords, generally keeping his mind busy, but said he was "resting" so the lack of sleep didn't bother him. Good move cutting down on the mother's little helpers, those things worry me seriously.

Kim Ayres said...

Z - well meaning advice is never wasted. My sleep seems to have returned now to it's usual crappy restlessness, with the aggressiveness turned down.

Daphne - the problem is it's not that I don't feel tired - I still feel absolutely shattered and desperately want to sleep. This means I don't actually have the ability to do anything else

Mary Witzl said...

What Hope said: I've had so many nights like this I couldn't possibly count them. I'm a lifelong insomniac and when I get a good night's sleep, I'm always amazed.

WHY haven't I been able to log onto your blog, btw? Every time I try to log on, I get disconnected!!

Kim Ayres said...

No idea about the blog logging on. I had a problem with Pat's site the other day. Blogger must be having on of its turns

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