Posts Tagged: insomnia

Aug 14

Monkey Mind

I am struggling lately with my old demon, anxiety. It sits on my chest, making it hard to breathe. I wake up at night in a panic, endless thoughts eddying around in swirls in my brain. I remember yoga teachers talking about the “monkey mind:” a mind filled with this kind of loop-de-loop chatter. All the to-dos, should-have-dones, must-remembers. It’s unproductive, but I still can’t fall back asleep. Last night I roamed the house in the wee hours, driven by my monkey mind. I try to relax. An impossible task.

During the day I sit down to do one task and endlessly interrupt myself with other tasks that need doing. There simply isn’t enough time. I worry, over and over again, that I am not doing as well as I should do. I berate myself for not being better at life, for not conquering each and every challenge life throw at me.

And then I try and take a deep breath. I try and remember to be kind to myself. I think, “self? Would you think these things about another person that you love?” (Answer: no). “Then, Self, be kind. I can only do my best. My best HAS to be good enough.”

I wish things were perfect. I daydream about everything being my definition of perfect, and how that would solve all my problems. Except probably it wouldn’t. My definition of perfect would change. Or I would become an insufferable person to be around and lose all my friends. Or maybe I would even be bored(?).

I look at our bare concrete floor in the kitchen and feel a tiny bit ashamed that we don’t have “grown-up” flooring. And then I think about people who live in places with dirt floors. I think about The House on Plum Creek and Ma Ingalls sweeping that earthen floor and, BOOM, reality crashes back in.

I live under a roof that keeps me dry. I have plenty (so many!) of things to wear. I have running water. I even have hot water, at my disposal, day or night, whenever I want. I have a refrigerator and a pantry full of food to eat. I’ve even got books to read and things to entertain me, and a car to drive sitting in my driveway. I live with people who love me, and who I love the heck out of.

So I guess I am just working on my perspective, on breathing in and out, and letting go. Of practicing kindness. To others, but also to myself (I am my own biggest critic).

Meanwhile, the dishes in the sink beckon. Going to try and calm down my inner monkey and focus, zen-like, on that one task before me.

Jul 10

Today I have a case of the crazies

Ever have one of those days where it drags on so long and so painfully that you think that something has happened in the space/time continuum? Like, maybe somehow TWO bad days have been compressed into one day?

It might have something to do with the lack of sleep last night. No matter how sternly I scold myself for doing this, no matter how absolutely dreadfully not calming and not sleep-inducing this is, I still persist in googling cancer related facts and articles and all manner of frightening things late at night sometimes when I cannot sleep. Usually just prior to a scan. Because I am crazy, that is why.

I think that something deep inside of me is thinking that maybe if I keep searching I will come across that elusive website out there, the one devoted to explaining and predicting my entire life, including cancer status, disease progression, lifetimes of loved ones, etc. You know, the basics. For my edification. Wouldn’t that be nifty? I keep looking but I haven’t come across it yet.

I was trying to do a million things today: write, make phone calls, email, and all manner of assorted and sundry various things that kept me in my pajamas until (embarrassing!) 11 am. All the while, my tiny warlord conspired to keep my away from all my Very Important Activities by continually climbing on my lap, shouting during important phone calls and whining and requiring all manner of care. Yes, it’s my job to take care of her but I swear to you that Anna was being especially needy today. I felt….exasperated. Yes, that is exactly it. Exasperated in the way that you feel when there is the tiny bubble of laughter that forms in the back of your throat when you think about how ridiculous that it is that you are trying to call your doctor regarding your Very Important Scan while your daughter is screaming “MAMA COME WIPE ME NOW! RIGHT NOW!” and you realize that it is all faintly ridiculous, the idea that stay-at-home Moms have all this free time. Exasperated also in the sort of way that keeps your fondness for the irritating habits of your beloved child at the forefront: I could still think to myself, despite the inconvenience, that, GEEZ, is she ever cute! as she creates enormous messes requiring massive cleanup effort on my part. Really, I am not being sarcastic. I think that Anna is so adorable that I sometimes have to make myself get all stern because otherwise I melt at the perfection of her squeaky little voice.

Swimming lesson went well today. She is slowly getting used to the idea of being on her back in the water (previously a big fear for her). Despite the fact that she repeatedly told me, throughout the day, starting from breakfast time, that she did NOT want to go to swim lesson and she would NOT go, not EVER EVER EVER, she did just great when I handed her over to her teacher. Boy, was I ever glad that she did not make good on her threat to hit her teacher (no, seriously, she really told me that at lunch, that if I made her go to swim lesson she would hit Rachel. “I hope you won’t really do that,” I replied, looking her straight in the eye).

Everything feels so crazy right now. I kind of want to fastforward a little bit to the part where things are a bit more slowed down and mellow. Can I hope for that? I can also spin all sorts of fantastical maladventures regarding my in-the-air cancer status. I have refused to allow Adam to make plans regarding either (a) travel or (b) kitchen remodel, until after I get the results of these scans because I can’t go there until I get it in my head that we aren’t headed into another storm that we have to brace ourselves against.

Tomorrow: scan. Friday: blood draw and (hopefully) preliminary scan results. Then it is a whirlwind of family and activities because of Kenny’s upcoming memorial service and (gulp) oh, yeah, another few visits to the Cancer Center.

Jan 10

productive, manic, or OCD?

Last night, at 2:30 am, Anna woke us up with a request to get re-covered with her blankets (not an uncommon request around here; our attempts to get her to do it herself have been largely unsuccessful), so I trudged wearily into her room, tired because (a) it is 2:30 am, a time that most of the world, myself included, think of as “the middle of the night” and (b) because I had stayed up too late reading this book (a fascinating read).

I tugged the covers up to her chin, started turning on my heel to trudge back to my own warm bed, under my own warm covers, when….it hit me. The smell. Oh no. I stuck my nose closer, sniffed. Stuck my hand under the covers to verify what I knew to be true. Urine. Damn.

“Umm, sweetie?”


“Anna, sweetie…you need to get up. You peed in your bed.”

“No I DIDN’T!” she indignantly replied and tried to roll over, away from me as I moved to uncover her.


This is the point where Adam wakes up and yells, “What’s going on in there?”

“She peed,” I said, “but she doesn’t want me to change her or the bed.”

“(@*%^#*@&*! Listen to Mommy, Anna!” (edited for language).

And suddenly, the child who, just moments earlier, had been prepared to drift back into guileless sleep became a lean, mean, kicking and screaming machine.

“oof! Yowch! You. Have. To. Change. Your. PJs. I. Have. To. Change. Your. Sheets. No. Choice. MUST DO.”

“NOOO! I NO WANT TO DO THAT!” (as I strip her sopping wet pajamas and undies off of her flailing, writhing body)


Adam, true to his ability to remain completely comatose and non-functioning when tired, remains in bed and periodically shouts out commands (“Stop screaming,” “Change your clothes,”) and, when that fails, finally gets out of bed and attempts to persuade us both towards the lazy route: “Let’s just all go back to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed and deal with all of this” –arms sweeping to take in the pile of wrinkled and disheveled sheets, blankets, pajamas– “in the morning, okay?” Ever hopeful, he offers Anna an encouraging smile. “Okay, Bird?”

“NOOO! I NO WANT TO SLEEP IN YOUR BED! I SLEEP IN MY BED WITH MY PINK SHEETS!” (Unfortunately, the “back up” pink sheets are in the washing machine–my bad–and the back up to the back up, a white sheet, is deemed completely unacceptable). In protest, Anna urinates, in dribbles, all over herself, a large section of her rug, and in a trail towards the bathroom. No urine actually makes it into the toilet. Not even a drop. It is like the pee gods are laughing at us right now. It feels like a calamity of Titanic proportions. Now I am really awake. I go into crisis mode and start ordering people around. Surprisingly, it (sort of) works.

“Anna. Take this washcloth and wipe yourself off. There are no more pink sheets right now so you are going to sleep on white sheets.”

“Adam. Get me some towels so that I can wipe up the floor. Help me strip the bed and make it up again.”

Finally, after what feels like an hour, but in actuality is probably closer to 15 minutes, we have cleaned floors and carpet, clean sheets and blanket on bed, cleaned child and clean underpants and pajamas. Everyone is tucked in, dry and warm and quiet. Anna (briefly and with minimal protest) asks for a book to be read to her (ha!) and is rebuffed. It is now almost 3 o’clock in the morning.

Lucky scratches to be let out; we exchange a glance, a look of understanding, both battle worn and weary (Lucky doesn’t like the screaming anymore than we do). I duck into the garage, start a load of laundry. It is immensely dark and dreary outside.

As I re-enter the house, I am aware of the sound of sleeping. Light snoring, intense quiet. I try for the same for myself but toss and toss and turn and turn, eventually resorting to a book and then, when that fails me, a snack. And then the internet, where I look at recipes, check in with Facebook, fire up my blogging program and then, empty of words, close it down again.

Eventually, at 6:45, I slip on my rain boots, murmur quietly to Adam that I will return shortly, and drive out, streets quiet and wet, to Lazy Acres, where I buy eggs and cream and bananas. I love the grocery store at 7 in the morning. So still and mellow.

Today I am in that weird space I get into when I’ve gotten little to no sleep. Contrary to what one might expect, lack of sleep doesn’t turn me slow as molasses, unable to function. On the contrary, my mind races. I plan and I execute those plans. Today I made chocolate mousse, two pans of lasagna (to freeze for later), a sheet pan of dinner rolls (all of this before 10 am).

The mind racing isn’t all pleasant. I find my brain wandering, time and again, to those thoughts that consume me in my dark times of anxiety (I think of it as a “flare up” of my mostly-under-control OCD–the therapy I underwent years ago helps prevent most full-fledged attacks but it comes back every once in a while). I imagine things, terrible and gruesome and scary things, over and over and over again and then…shake it out. I have to shake it out. Think of something else. Something else. Anything else. Do something. Do Something. DO SOMETHING. That is why I DO, when I’m tired and anxious and overwhelmed. Because if I’m not doing, I’m just sitting there, thinking, thinking those bad thoughts. I’d rather be doing.

And all because one small child wanted to be tucked back under her covers? No, it’s not her fault, I decide. If it wasn’t that, it would have been when I woke to pee, or Adam shifting in bed, or the dog’s loud snoring that woke me and drove me into these thoughts. It could have been anything.

Bottom line: tonight I have to sleep. Sleep is a must.

Sep 09

Blogging instead of sleeping

I should be sleeping. My tomorrow self will be cursing my tonight self: Why, oh why? Why did you not sleep when you had the chance? Answer: shrug. I dunno. I’m just enjoying the cool air (beautiful respite from the terrible heat of the daytime). I’m enjoying the peace and quiet of a sleeping household.

Or maybe it’s because I drank an ice tea in the middle of the afternoon. Or maybe it’s because of that damn rare afternoon nap I indulged in today while Adam took Anna out to ice cream (she totally ratted him out on this one; Adam just said that they “ran errands” but she said they got a snack. “What kind of snack?” I innocently inquired, thinking, oh, how sweet, picturing apple slices or crackers. “Ice cream!” Anna exclaimed with glee, as Adam winced. Secret’s out, buddy. Ha!

I’m ecstatic about the backyard remodel. It’s so so so so nice to be able to look outside and, instead of wanting to immediately draw the curtains, wanting to throw the curtains open, to rush outside and dance around (delicately, it’s new sod). Today we planted flowers and bulbs and some new veggies and some other new filler plants in the yard: Salvia and Flax and False Heather and all kinds of beautiful, beautiful color and textural variety. I just adore it. And I’m thrilling at the idea of the spring bulbs popping out, an extra, hidden bonus. A secret waiting to be born.

This morning we had our first of the monthly preschool potluck brunches and two things stuck with me: (1) when they say it’s going to start at 10, think 10:30….maybe 11 instead and (2) damn! I hate being the new girl! Anna played inside, in with the babies, of course. I pulled back and forth between her, a couple of the teachers, and some very, very brief conversations with other parents, all of whom, it seemed, knew each other in that way you know each other when you move in the same social circle and have for years. Parents whose kids have progressed years through school together, parents whose older kids are now in grade school but used to be in preschool together and now the younger siblings are at the preschool. I think it’s going to be a few more times until I can really break into that scene. Adam was fine, of course. “See ya, Mike!” “Later, Jim!” I could hear him call as we said our goodbyes. Buddies with everyone, that’s my guy.

And now off I go to bed, before I really really regret this late hour, getting later as the moments go by.