When I first thought about writing this, I assumed I would start with the morning, after all, that’s when the day begins. The more I thought about it, I realized the night affected my mornings so much, that in a way, my day begins at night when I go to bed. So that’s where I’ll start!
Most nights I go to bed eagerly. I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. I can barely stay awake and I feel like I could sleep for 100 years. I crawl into bed. And it begins.
“Why can’t you be more like your siblings?”
“Your siblings were such a pleasure to teach.”
“Are you sure you’re really related?”
“You stick out like a sore thumb”
“Your younger sister can do it, why can’t you?”
I scold myself, “why can’t I at least blend in?”
“Why do I have to be like this?”
I toss and turn, willing myself to fall asleep, tears running down my face. It has been hours of this kind of back and forth in my mind. I wonder if I should take a sleeping tablet and quickly tell myself I’m not going to ask for another script once this runs out. I’m not going through the questions and the accusations of drug-seeking behavior again. I’ll just have to learn to sleep like everyone else. Even though I’ve made my decision, it all replays in my mind.
“Are you really having trouble sleeping or do you just want people to think you’re having trouble sleeping?”
“Are you really having trouble sleeping or do you stay awake to get company?”
“Do you sell your sleeping tablets?”
“You know I can put you on a list that would prevent any doctor from ever prescribing you sleeping tablets again if I wanted to?”
Once again, I scold myself, “just be normal and sleep.”
“Why did I ask for help in the first place?”
This back and forth goes on for a couple more hours. Eventually I drift off to sleep, tears staining my face.
At 7:15 a.m. my alarm goes off. I want to cry. I feel hungover from the lack of sleep and the emotional exhaustion. I’m so exhausted from the night before that I can’t imagine how I’m going to cope with a whole day. I don’t want to be awake. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to do anything. The only reason I get up is because I have a daughter to care for. I need to get her ready and take her to school. I tell myself I can go back to bed as soon as I get home if I want to. I take my daughter to school and I’m home before 9 a.m.
At 9 a.m. I go back to bed. I’m so exhausted from the night before. Even if I wasn’t exhausted from that, I’d still be exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for 20 years now. I fall asleep for a couple of hours. I wake up in a cold sweat, shaking. I’ve had another nightmare. I sit up, rocking backwards and forwards, trying to calm my mind down. I check that my alarm is set for 2:30 p.m. to pick my daughter up from school. It’s set for 2:30. But was it am or pm? I don’t remember seeing pm. I better check again. OK, it’s definitely 2:30 p.m. I put my phone to the side. Is the volume turned on though? I better check the volume is on! OK, the volume is on. I put my phone to the side. If I leave my phone there is my blanket going to fall on top of it and muffle the sound of the alarm? If I miss the alarm and don’t collect my daughter, the school might phone CPS on me. My baby would be so scared! Why can’t I just be a better mum? Why can’t I be like other mums? Normal mums? This back and forth continues until it’s time to pick my daughter up from school.
We get home from school at 3:30 p.m. I need to spend time with my daughter. I try to be as engaged as possible for the next four hours until she goes to bed. Staying awake feels like torture but I love my daughter and want to be with her, so I stay awake. I remember what the nurses in the psych hospital told me: “if you ever have children, they’ll be so embarrassed of you.”
I tell myself, “I need to do better, I need to be better.”
“I wish I was a better mum.”
This back and forth continues until bed.
And it all begins again.
Getty image by XVI