The majority of my adult life was defined by insomnia. Scratch that – the majority of my life, period. Summer vacations involved a lot of reruns at 2am – which explains my deep, eternal love for Scott Bakula. Mornings were my enemy – to the point that I worked for several years on an overnight shift. It suited me – although I did start reacting to sunlight like Gollum.
I’ve been on all of the sleeping pills, the pills that aren’t for sleeping but have that as a side effect, herbal teas, supplements. I’ve cut out caffeine, tried meditation, set up a very specific schedule, exercised, and tried drinking myself to sleep. Nothing worked for more than a week, most not at all. I’d accepted my life would be lived in an exhausted haze with plenty of nature documentaries and QVC.
Then, about a year ago, I was suddenly cured. I was going to sleep by 10 and waking up at 6 like a proper adult. The change happened when I moved in with a friend – we’ll call her Shmauren – and her very energetic son, who we’ll refer to as Optimus Prime. Living with Optimus Prime was like living with the world’s most effective alarm clock. When he was up, so were you. And it became kind of awesome. I was getting a solid 7-8 hours a night; I was productive in the morning; I was ON TIME TO WORK.
So, when Scott and the boys moved down, I was already used to regular sleep. We’d get up early on the weekends and get all of our errands done by 10 – then we’d have all of this extra time to relax. Maybe I started falling asleep at 9, but we have a DVR, I could catch up on my shows. Everything was pretty great. Except when it wasn’t.
One of the symptoms of autism can be sleep issues. Cal does not have that symptom – he gets in bed at bedtime and sleeps until it’s time to get up – no fuss, no problem. Charlie…well, he does have that symptom. Every once in a while, he does this thing where he wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s usually a real struggle to get him back to sleep. It sucks. And it’s happened every. fucking. night. this week. This week that I took as vacation. 3:45 am – there’s Charlie, jumping and flapping and hollering. Scott and I go through every trick in the book until about 6. Then we just accept the fact that there will be no more sleeping and get up.
I’m exhausted. Scott’s exhausted. Charlie’s exhausted. We’re all cranky. Charlie is being extra difficult because he’s so tired. I have no patience because I’m so tired. It’s a real shitshow. I will probably cry before the day is over. I just can’t understand how I lived with insomnia for such a long time. Did I feel this awful constantly? There’s a faint memory of this – the inability to think of words, the clumsiness, the temper, the hunger from my body demanding more fuel to keep pushing on. I’ve had an almost full pot of coffee this morning, and I’m going to have more before the day’s through. And I’m saying a continual prayer – please, tonight let me sleep. Please. Please let me sleep.
I’m not used to this anymore, I feel like an insane person. Why do people have more than one child? How do they do it? Insomnia, at least that was just me, I wasn’t expected to care for anyone. This is, well, bullshit. How do I make sure the boys get what they need when I can’t remember what I just did? How do I pay attention to them when my brain is melting? How do I keep the screaming ragemonster caged when every little thing feels like a personal attack? Sometimes? This parenting thing? Sometimes it blows. I just want a million hour nap. I’d settle for an hour of quiet with my book. They both seem about as likely at this point.
Please, please let me sleep tonight.