Day 3: What it feels like to be a terrible sleeper

I can’t sleep.

Well, that’s not totally true. I can, sometimes, sleep. But not well, and not easily.

Last night I experienced a particularly frustrating bout of sleeplessness. I was exhausted after dinner/wine/watching The Jerk on TV, and got ready for bed around 9pm. I talked to my boo on the phone a little bit, read a little bit on my phone, and then realized it was 11pm — might as well stay up for SNL, right?

I stayed up, watched all of a very subpar SNL (except OMG this cacophony of impersonations by the master Jay Pharaoh), and then decided at 1am that I needed to settle down more, so I read a bit on my phone.

Last night was probably the most clearly I’ve understood that addiction to technology is absolutely real. It’s not just like I can’t set down my phone/iPad/TV remote/whatever. It’s that I was being mentally stimulated by exhaustively reading every New York Magazine interview and Vulture episode recap I could find in my Facebook feed, then checking in on apps I hadn’t used in a while (why can’t I be better at this Pinterest?), and then scroll through pictures I’d taken recently. Looking at my bright phone screen (even though it was totally dimmed, as I was in bed at 1am), my circadian rhythm was getting confused, and my mind was fully active. I fell asleep after I put on a Spotify “Sleep to Dream” playlist around 2:50am.

Today, I feel like total crap. My some miracle, I don’t feel cranky — but my muscles ache and I SWEAR I’m getting overheated because I didn’t properly rest. My eyes are puffy and, since it’s Sunday and I am refusing to wear makeup, I slightly resemble a lizard in the eye department. Plus, yesterday I got a deep tissue massage (thanks honey!), and for anyone who is an occasional/regular massage consumer, you KNOW you need water and sleep to get rid of those toxins. Instead, the congestion I woke up to on Friday is turning into a full-blown cold, and I’m afraid I’m going to fall asleep while watching Whiskey Tango Foxtrot tonight, therefore disrespecting my life’s hero, Tina Fey. (If you know me basically at all, you know how serious of a grievance this would be.)

Dear lord, why did I do this to myself? I know what it takes to get me to sleep. I drink enough water, go for a run, maybe don’t eat dessert literally 10 minutes before I get ready for bed. I know what it takes. Yet I totally ignored it. I’ve done this a thousand times. I’ve gone months without changing my sleep-prep habits.

Sleep is something I actively disrespected in college. I would sleep for 5 hours after a night out, wake up and make it to an 8am class, be moderately pleasant at least, and do it all again the next day. How did I do that? Now, I swear I run a fever on days that I don’t sleep enough, and being tired one day makes me somehow too under-pressure to have a good night’s sleep the next night that I worry about getting sleep! It’s a horrible chain reaction, and I’m so exhausted just thinking about it.

A lot of my blog posts have to do with my struggle with anxiety, and this one’s no different: two of my triggers for panic/anxiety are being tired and feeling overheated. This is the vicious cycle (have we thought of a less-cliche phrase to replace that yet?), the domino effect (same question pls), the catch-22 (OMG SOMEONE WRITE A BOOK TO REPLACE THIS). Tonight I must break it: I must exercise, drink water, avoid eating a delicious homemade brownie with ice cream too late (BUT DEAR LORD I AM EATING IT AT SOME POINT!) and get to bed on time — not too early, because then I fall into the trap I experienced last night.

Man. I love sleep. It took me a while, but sleep and I really fell in love. Sleeping poorly must be what it feels like to lose your soulmate. Maybe sleep is my soulmate (sorry hon). Sleep definitely saves my life every day. Sleep, you’re my hero.

I’m a closet idiot, and other very true and verified facts

Fun story: I’ve been anxiety free for at least a month.

 

This isn’t like smoking. You don’t fall off the boat once and then maybe binge for a few months before remembering how much it sucks and resolving to quit again. (Note: I obviously have no idea what addiction is like.)

 

Anxiety is a come-as-she-pleases bitch. She senses a weakness in you — whether you have a low-grade fear of something happening in your life or you just haven’t been sleeping enough — and she attacks. You can’t breathe right; you lose even more sleep.

 

Have you ever, say, really needed to break off a relationship or get out of an unhealthy workplace? Once you left, you felt that INCREDIBLE RELIEF that doesn’t necessarily sink in right away. But, with time, you recognize the incredible relief it provides.


This guy relaxes like a cool genius. 

 

The last month without that ish, then, has been EVERYTHING! I made a lot of changes in my life, including the end of a job that a lot of people constantly ask about. I don’t even care that I have to answer questions about it constantly. I am happy and able to handle stress without imploding.

 

I know anxiety and mental health are such tricky topics, and that’s why I talk about it often. Just gotta keep it fresh, yo. You don’t have to live with that pit in your stomach or constantly feeling like YOU suck. Because you don’t. (Er, maybe you do, but that’s not anxiety then.) I thought I was clinically depressed. Then I talked to a kickass doc who snapped some sense into me and told me to make moves and take charge of my own happiness. And I did. And I am so happy.

 

Listen, a lot of things go into happiness. You really do need to sleep lots and eat well and exercise. You do. Science, bitch. But you also need to do things solely because THEY MAKE YOU HAPPY. I don’t know why, but that always seemed like such a weak and selfish motivator. I always thought I needed to be sacrificing for others’ happiness — or rather, what I perceived as their happiness.

 

When I was a kid, I remember once choosing what I wanted to do for my birthday party. I tried to make it whatever my guests would want. Then my mother said, “Why are you planning a party for them? It’s not their birthday.” BOOM. Relief.

To me, making myself happy means cleaning my apartment, sticking to a skincare regimen, and eating açai bowls approximately 5x per week. I exercise because I know I need it, and because after a lot of it, I realize I like it. Happiness is not always having some crazy plans. It is sitting on the couch and laughing with someone else. It’s writing a letter to someone without them knowing. It’s that surprise and smile you get when someone realizes you remembered something about them. Why wouldn’t I choose to do these things?


(No, seriously, I can’t get enough açai bowl.) 


I’m the last person so many people would ever expect to be speaking about happiness and fulfillment in the face of awful stuff like anxiety. I like to laugh, and I hate to get upset. This is how I apply my #FunkyFresh self to real-world, personal issues. I kinda like it. It makes me happy.