Making Meaning of the Madness

Chapter 7


Wearisome nights, nine times nine,

Shall he dwindle, peak and pine.

William Shakespeare

Avoiding bed became an obsession. Because I often couldn’t stay asleep I would toss about in agony. Those periods when regular sleep did occur, I was able to cope with much of what was happening, but when sleep deprivation hit, dealing with life became difficult.

…an overwhelming fatigue since getting out here.

…I'm not sleeping again and along with this, despair creeps into my consciousness each time I look into the future.

…All I need is a few days rest to clear my perspective of things.

…Here I go again. The nights are a horror.

…No sleep again. I’m exhausted, but no more pills.

…Bought some new runners today, and will take David's advice re a naturopath.

Journal: Dec '94 - Nov '95

Soon after Jeff died it became obvious I needed sleeping pills. Nights in succession would pass when I would get two or three hours sleep. The balance of the night was spent tossing restlessly with Jeff on my mind. Each time this happened, going to bed became a horror. I knew what lay in store. So I swallowed my male pride and those little red and white beauties, and each time my quality of life improved. But not without fight after futile fight against them.

I tried most of the pro-active things: brisk walks half an hour before bed; warm milk; warm milk and bananas; half an hour on the walk fit; reading; writing until the wee hours; and often various combinations and permutations of these. Nothing worked. Running ten kilometres was out of the question; I didn’t have the energy to get past one or two. I tried. Each time I eventually gave in to the medication, and thank goodness I did.

In retrospect, I understand why I didn’t earlier. Male pride and stubbornness prevented me, and I am not much better as I write this, for I have recently gone through the same sleeplessness and wrestling with myself. The big difference now is I have the luxury of time and experience. Those two luxuries don’t help me sleep, but they have taught me a few things.

While I stand behind what I said about sleeping pills, I do not recommend their continued use. They got me to sleep, but I felt groggy after and I always worried about addiction despite the advice of doctors. I now rely on naturopathic remedies and strategies because I find them successful.

If the reader of this little book follows no other advice, find a way to sleep. Try everything that seems reasonable, but having done so and found nothing that works, do not let pride get in the way of your getting sufficient rest. You may have to resort to sleeping pills, if only for short periods of time to re-establish sleep patterns.

No other factor impedes healing more than fatigue. Do it for your mind, and do it for your body. Nothing strips you of your health faster than sleep deprivation, and as a good friend said to me at one point, “You’re no good to your family dead.”

Spare yourself the horrors of tossing about or simply lying there in agony suffering through the ghosts from which you cannot extricate yourself. We can wish much of ourselves, but we must first be in a healthy mental and physical state. If we get sufficient rest, we can be pro-active in our healing.

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