Tall Thought 31: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

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"No Sleep till Brooklyn"

I take sleeping medication on occasion in order to sleep. Sometimes I run out of them and say to myself, "You’ll be fine. You’re past that point. You are stronger now and you have control over your own thoughts and body." Essentially, I lie to myself.

There are all kinds of triggers for my insomnia—from a tough day to a noisy neighbor. I've struggled with this disorder since I was a child, but back then I didn’t know what it was. I remember my Mom coming in my room and saying “Try not to worry about things that will happen tomorrow and you’ll fall asleep.” Sage advice—but I don’t have super powers, Mom!

This weekend I went without my sleeping pills. The first night was a little rough, but I slept for a couple hours. The next night I finally fell asleep. Within an hour the upstairs neighbors had woken me up, and things got ugly. As I wrestled with my bed, I started making deals with the gods. "If I could just fall asleep by, 2am ... by 3am ... by 4am." I got up and tried reading a book, took a bath, had some toast, warm milk, listened to soothing talk shows. Nothing. At 6am, and a mere replica of myself—I conceded, threw in the towel and stumbled to the coffee pot, which is mocking me. The day ahead seemed impossible. Little tasks, like driving my daughter or doing dishes, seemed daunting.  

I’ve had many of those nights in my life and they have humbled me. I realize we are only a few sleepless nights away from being insane. I am no different from the person in a padded cell, ranting to no one, with a straight-jacket secured. Sleep is a physical necessity, but madness comes when there is no break from your own thoughts.

I took matters into my own hands on Monday and I went to see my doctor. I explained what happened and she gave me the usual interrogation, like I have a needle hanging out of my arm. She’s concerned I may become physically addicted. She asked if I'd tried Melatonin or Valerian root or maybe Chamomile tea? I said: "Lady, I’ve tried everything under the sun. Now please write me a prescription for an anvil to fall on my head—or horse tranquilizers. I’m not picky at this point."

After the doctor, I called my sister Mary to give her the update. I told her my doctor had explained that my blood pressure was so high, they wanted to admit me- She was was afraid I might have a stroke. I then snidely asked Mary, "what would happen if I did have a stroke. Would they wtite me a prescription for warm milk?" Mary giggled.