Insomniacs, unite!

A fairly typical start to the day, today. A chaotic guddle-about to get all 3 boys out of the door in time for school – on this occasion made more fun and eventful by the last-minute search for my only pair of waterproof winter boots. (They eventually turned up in the boys’ shoe basket; so either a small someone had been ‘helpful’, or I had been more befuddled than normal yesterday eve…)

The drive to school went along the usual lines too; an off-hand discussion about a violent and possibly galaxy-destroying Lego© war that the boys have been enacting in their room, and some unusual and exotic suggestion for where to spend eldest’s upcoming birthday day out (though nothing to match the giddy heights of last year’s strongly expressed desire by the middlest one for a day on a ‘real’ space rocket).

All of the above seen through a lack-of-sleep-induced fuzziness, fuzzily.

I’ve had insomnia off and on since being a teenager. To be honest, it’s rarely been much of a problem. I’ve traditionally had three main ways of dealing with it – going with the flow, indulging in hours of night-time-daydreaming, and drinking myself into a stupor.

I developed the ‘going with the flow’ method in my final year at Art College. I didn’t exactly see eye to eye with my head tutor* and I intensely disliked what passed for ‘crits’ in the Design Department. I loved what I was doing, however, and threw myself into it. So (kicked-started by the odd bout of crit-induced insomnia) I just threw myself into it at a completely different time of day from the rest of the department. I arrived daily at 3ish for the final obligatory tutorial, worked into the wee small hours, before heading home to sleep ‘til noon-ish. And repeat. More night-owl than insomniac, really.

In common with many insomniacs my sleeplessness was sometimes exacerbated by worrying about not getting to sleep; the self-fulfilling prophecy to rule them all (and in the darkness bind really piss them off). Happily, I can get away with 2 or 3 nights with little sleep, so when insomnia looms now (or at least until very recently) I regard it as some quality relaxation time and lie in bed planning in great detail the extension we can’t afford yet, or having imaginary conversations with ex-friends about my fabulous career(-to-be).

The third, ‘stupor’ method speaks for itself although, of course, received medical wisdom states this is counter effective, but hey, at least it makes Spooks almost watchable whilst working it’s not-medically-condoned–in-any-way magic.**

This last month – since becoming self-employed – insomnia has started to dominate. It’s not money worries or business strategies that are keeping me awake though – it’s damn ideas… This is an aspect of trying to become a writer that I hadn’t anticipated. But… I spend a large part of the day mulling over phrases, ideas and perspectives and trying to think my way into other’s lives, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that it happens when I’m drifting off to sleep too.

Fortunately, I have a fourth weapon in my arsenal against the big ‘I’… namely, as a self-employed mother of 3 (which is why I can’t rely on the stupor method too frequently) I am pretty much too exhausted to entertain sleeplessness for long…

And, while my body figures this out – as it has done a few times over the last couple of years – at least I have Facebook to keep me company. There’s nothing like a status update of ‘bloody insomnia’ to start off a chat with an old pal across the world, or a mile away with the same problem. Insomniacs, unite!

*Though, to be fair, he did tell me prior to my degree show getting marked that he was glad I had stood my ground. I was awarded a 2:1.
**This is not quite as bad as it sounds – when very tired it doesn’t take a great deal to stuporise me.

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