Sleepless Insanity

Sleep eludes me once again.

Every night, it seems, it’s the same thing. I want to start getting ready for bed around 8pm – because that gives me enough time to do a few things like finish up anything that’s lying around, and be under the covers no later than 8.45-9pm. This means I have a solid hour to read or do whatever and still get plenty of shut-eye before getting up somewhere between 5.30-6am.

In an ideal world, that is.

I hate sleeping late – even on weekends, we’re usually up by 7am, 7.30 at the latest. If I sleep any later than 8am – regardless of when I actually fell asleep – I inevitably end up with a headache, general grogginess and a feeling like I’m wasting the day. I like to be up early because it means that, by the time 10am rolls around, I’ve already done a bunch of stuff.

In an ideal world, that is.

Lately, my sleep “schedule” – picture me snorting derisively here – has been so erratic that you’d think I was on uppers AND downers. I hope it goes without saying that I’m not on either – though, honestly, I’d kind of be grateful for some potent pharmaceutical help lately. My brain is constantly on overdrive – and, somehow, never seems to be the bearer of good, happy thoughts these days. If hope is elusive, happiness has become a rare commodity that has almost reached mythical status. I feel like my heart has taken so many beatings that the overarching emotion these days is resignation.

Ironically, resignation is sometimes the (slightly) better of two evils – the other side being crippling anxiety and fear. Fear of a life without children. (Did I say fear? I meant abject terror.) Fear of things that used to not even cross my mind or that I gave little importance to. Fear of…life. Of being lonely. Of having lost any spark, any social skills, of even losing my few remaining brain cells that haven’t yet succumbed to the doldrums from being beaten into submission by the incessant chatter about All The Things That Are Wrong With Me And My Life.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have more and more trouble concentrating. I’ve become more forgetful – not just in the sense of going somewhere and forgetting why, or of looking for something only to forget what or where it was last seen; no, more frighteningly, I feel like I’m forgetting words. I’ll be in the middle of a train of thought, and a word eludes me – not because I don’t know it or because I’m trying to think of some unsual, complicated word. No, rather, a word or turn of phrase I use or am, at least, very familiar with, suddenly disappears. I feel like a bat, trying to sound it out – but hitting a wall. (This, btw, may be entirely unfair to bats – if memory serves more than a passing diversion and receptacle for pain and trauma, I think I actually heard somewhere recently that, contrary to popular perception, bats actually can see, just not very well. Fascinating, I know.)

You see…I’m not an unusually proud or vain person – never have been. There are a handful of things that I felt were attributes – qualities worthy of time, effort and – I daresay – praise. I’m sure you won’t be the least bit surprised when I tell you that I feel like most if not all of these qualities seem to have vanished in the quicksand of IF. I used to be funny. I used to laugh all the time. I used to have a social life. I used to enjoy being around other people. I was witty! I was vivacious – effervescent, even!

Now, I just feel like a sack of potatoes – dull, drab and lethargic. I have a closet full of beautiful clothes I never wear because I don’t have the energy desire interest in putting together an outfit anymore. I occasionally open the door and peek inside – but I feel nothing. The clothes aren’t calling to me because I feel like they don’t even belong to me – they belong to someone who’s happy and full of life, someone who has friends, someone who knows how to have a good time and get the most out of life. They certainly don’t belong to the sad, hapless shadow of a woman hovering in the doorway, tentatively reaching out to run her fingers over a silky summer dress or a bold floral tunic. She’s not the one who’s going to be wearing the expensive penny loafers that were bought many years ago for a special occasion; or the elegant high heels. No, Ms. Frumpy has no business in this closet.

In our master bathroom, there’s a drawer with makeup. I think it’s mine – but whenever I open the drawer, I just find myself staring at its contents. I keep thinking I should just throw it away. Clearly, I’m not using it – but it seems so incredibly wasteful to just throw away brand new, unused products. I keep thinking, maybe I’ll come back to them. Maybe the fun girl who bought them is still hiding somewhere beneath the rubble. But I feel like I’m lying to myself. I think that girl has run off to a tropical island where she can actually have some fun.

For some reason, all of this is making me think of that movie You’ve Got Mail – the part where Kathleen Kelly’s book store is starting to go down and one of her employees says: “This place is a tomb – I’m going to the nut shop where it’s fun!”. I’m sitting here kind of chuckling to myself because this is so incredibly apropos, on so many levels. I feel like I’m a shell of myself – hollow and lifeless – and then the idea of going to a nut shop where it’s fun makes me think of being medicated into a state of blissful oblivion. I don’t know why that’s amusing to me – maybe just because I like the idea that, somehow, my mind can still run off on a tangent rather than being completely stagnant.

I know that my story, my feelings, aren’t all that unique. I’ve read countless posts and stories from other IFers who echo many of the same sentiments – the feeling of hopelessness and of living inside a stranger. You look in the mirror and it’s sort of the person you know…yet you don’t really recognize her anymore. Her hair is matted and her complexion is dull. But the worst part is how her eyes look sad – so incredibly sad. You search for a glimmer of hope. You might even give her a pep talk – just like you would for a close friend, a beloved sibling. Yet the words sound fake to your own ears. You know you have to keep going, somehow, by any means possible – but it’s getting harder and harder not to feel like throwing in the towel.

No matter what your personal experience is, or what the particulars of your situation are – infertility sucks. It’s unfair. It drains the very life and soul out of you. It keeps you from living a full life, from smiling and laughing unreservedly like you used to.

I’m at a loss as to how I can turn the worst part of it around: the loneliness that seeps into my bones like the icy hand of a blizzard; making you feel frozen to the core. I don’t know how to get back to how my life used to be; how to meet people and make new friends. It’s pathetic, I know – but I feel completely inept in this. Me, of all people! It’s ridiculous. I’m so battle-scarred and bruised at this point, so overly sensitive about anything and everything connected to our struggle to create a family – and all the crap we’ve endured at the hands of people who we should’ve been able to count on for support – that I’m scared.

There you have it – I’m scared.

If we lived in a major city, I would just find creative ways to “put myself out there” and stay busy – you know, the ubiquitous museum visits, cooking classes, etc. But the truth is that I don’t even know how to act around other people anymore because I feel so incredibly uncomfortable and awkward in my own skin. I feel like I’m branded – like the mere fact of leaving the house without a child or five in tow is immediately a signal to Everyone that I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. I’m not a mommy. I’m not a Fertile Myrtle. I’m a Wannabe.

I know it’s totally in my head – people constantly assume that I have children. Of course they would – at my age, the only way you wouldn’t make such an assumption is if I looked like I’d just come from a board meeting and was ready to crush some unsuspecting barista with my stiletto heel. But since I no longer even put on makeup – yes, pathetic as well (you see why I’m feeling so crap) – it’s only “logical” for people to assume that I have children. Clearly – since I obviously must’ve been kept awake by a baby or harried in preparing to send off the apples of my eyes to school to look so worn out.

I’m torn between wanting to sell all my worldly possessions – and thinking that if I start selling all my beloved clothes, it’s like saying that I’m going to be this sad, lonely person for the rest of my life. So the truth is that, sometimes, when I open the door to my closet, it’s because I need to see the life I had, the life force that is still – hopefully – hiding somewhere beneath the detritus of my shattered dreams. I need to feel like I still have something to hold onto – that I don’t need to or shouldn’t give up…Not yet, not ever. Because no matter where this road leads to or where it ends, I need to stop wasting away like a rotting banana peel.


11 thoughts on “Sleepless Insanity

  1. I’m sorry you are having a hard time. I’d like to share the suggestion my therapist gave me to help my sleep. When the thoughts start filling your brain imagine an image of sending them away for the night. For me this manifested as a boat on the sea. I pile all the thoughts into the boat and then send it into the sea for the night. I’m not letting them go forever, just long enough for me to sleep. I found it immensely helpful. And was able to fall asleep far sooner than before.

    I hope that you can find a way to make that work for you. And maybe with better sleep will come feeling more together and you might start to see glimmers if the person you once were. But you are right – this journey does change us for ever.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I really appreciate it! I’ve heard of a lot of things but this is a new one – definitely worth trying. 🙂

  2. Hey, so I was stalking through your blog, and I just wanted to shoot out some hugs and love. I have been where you are now…and I have no doubt that it can easily happen again. I remember maybe in November when I really did not feel even alive or that all I am or was is gone. That I was just a husk of bitterness and sadness. I am here if you ever need something…to vent or I maybe can think of something really funny. Probably not, but I’ll try. I hope this is a better day for you, doll.

    • LOL I love that, “stalking your blog”, that’s hilarious! Thanks so much for stopping by to leave a comment and send out some hugs. Believe it or not, I’m never going to get tired of that – it means so much to me, especially because we really don’t have any support system. Hugs back!

  3. Oh Alex, I feel so close and connected to what you write. My life situation has also left me very lonely and with few friends who I can lean on. Similarly, years of struggle and strife, due to infertility, have utterly transformed me. I was capable of such joy and lightness before… now I am frequently sullen and silently bitter, and sooooo often just despondent, lost in droning negative thoughts and worries. I tried yoga meditation recently, but was unable to practice it, and unable to truly integrate its teaching even though I really think it has merit… For the first time in my life, particularly due to my constant torments, my erratic mood swings, and protracted state of negativity I am seriously wondering if I should be on anti-depressants… I don’t want to go there, but I also don’t feel like I can go on like this, nor can my relationship with my Love… we’ll see… but it’s essential that I find ways to live more serenely, more peacefully and positively now! In any case, know that I think of you out there and I’ll keep you close in my thoughts girl! Heaps and heaps of hugs from me!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your heartache with me. I’m always torn in these situations – on the one hand I’m relieved when someone says they totally get it and feel the same, but the other part of me feels so sad that someone else, too, is experiencing much the same despair and despondency. I know part of the problem is that I’m so incredibly uncomfortable about opening up to strangers about our IF issues. It’s one thing to commiserate with fellow IFers – but dealing with people I don’t know and who possibly have never had any inkling of having to “work” to have children? It’s just unthinkable to me. The few people we did tell a few years ago were so unsupportive, so dismissive, that we’ve both become withdrawn. It’s disheartening to me because I used to be so sociable – now I feel like I can’t seem to make any connections with people because I’m always scared, always afraid, of the inevitable moment where someone asks me if we have kids. I know the root of the problem is that I’m EMBARRASSED – which is so lame, because I know it’s not our fault. But because IF is so under-reported and completed distorted in the media – suuuuure, you can just “pluck” a super cute baby out of thin air after “struggling with IF” for three months; suuuuuuuuure, you can “just” adopt, what with it being free, easy, quick and not at all hard to overcome the desire to procreate on a biological level with the man you love most in the whole world. UGH. Anyway…thanks so much for the pep talk and the hugs – seriously, even if they’re “just” virtual, I’m feeling greedy for hugs lately LOL Right back atcha! 🙂 🙂

  4. Oh girl I’m so sorry :/ I wish I could give you a big hug!! (here is my virtual hug…)
    I read a quote once that has stuck with me…

    “Don’t be so miserable on the way to your destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.”

    I think you should get up tomorrow, put on a pretty outfit, paint your face (make up) and go for a nice lunch somewhere…get a pedicure…whatever. Even if you don’t “feel” like it, just do it. I was in a rut once and I forced myself to do it. It was so refreshing. It’s a shame we don’t live close…I would take you out for lunch fo sho!

    p.s. My mom takes benedryl at night to help her fall asleep. Her mind races at night too. The dr suggested it because it is non habit forming 🙂

    • AWww, thanks – I’ll take any and all hugs, even virtual ones! 🙂 You know, it probably doesn’t come across much because, most of the time, when I post it’s because I’m struggling and I need an outlet – but I do try to remember my many blessings, to be grateful for them, and to value the life I have. I have the occasional day when I feel like I can rally and just put on a happy face. But I think what makes it so much harder is just not really having any friends here – and the truth is that I haven’t really made much of an effort to meet new people because I live in constant fear of the inevitable questions about our childlessness, and/or dealing with someone else’s “accident” etc. The sad thing is that I just feel embarrassed about the whole IF thing – like we’re “defective”, especially me, and that it makes us unworthy or something. 😦 😦 Thanks for the suggestion with the Benadryl, I’ll try that – at this point I’d just be happy to get more than 4 hours of sleep at any point in time…

      • don’t feel shamed in the least! It’s not something we can control and more often than not, people understand this and are sympathetic towards it. Remember, when someone asks you, just say, “Not yet but we are working on it.”

      • You know…I wish I could feel more secure and comfortable about dealing with this issue when I’m around other people. But because we’re both in our late 30s, it’s pretty hard to put on a brave face when you’re dealing with people our own age – and often much younger – who already have a ton of kids. I feel judged – even if that might just be in my head 😦

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