We’ve all heard the story about the new mother being overwhelmed with the fatigue of staying up all night and sleep walking through the day.
Whenever I hear this story, it transports me right back to where I was five years ago. My daughter was diagnosed with reflux when she was a few weeks old. We tried everything but nothing seem to work. She cried every night for two years straight. Me and my husband took alternating night shifts… until he was diagnosed with cancer.
Our poor neighbor at the time commented often, that she couldn’t have coped with the crying. “How do you survive night after night?” she kept asking. Well I didn’t really have a choice. I had to survive the night, pray the day would end and hope for a miracle that never came the next night. I don’t have the words to describe how horrible it all was, yet it taught me an invaluable lesson.
My advice to everyone dealing with sleep deprivation is: Whatever your thoughts are and whatever your feelings are, do not make any life changing decisions based on them.
Sleep deprivation is a gruesome and tormenting state. It takes over your whole world – the way you see and experience it. It makes sure that you see everything through a negative lens so your feelings and thoughts end up being negative too. Life is deprived of all meaning and beauty.
White becomes grey, grey becomes black and black is a bottomless pit of anxiety. A tiny pile of laundry looks like Mount Everest and a simple task of shopping for groceries feels like running a marathon. Every life event gets magnified and the sad thing is – you can get used to this in time if the sleep deprivation lasts.
You stop recognizing the fact that you’re exhausted and seem to settle for your existence. This is just the way it is now.
We’ve all been here. We’ve all felt this way. Whether it was a baby, pain, stress or worrying that kept us awake at night, we all experience fatigue in the same way. It invades us and swallows us whole.
In the midst of my own darkness I realized: Even though this feels horrific, there’s no need to draw any conclusions from it. These feelings don’t define me and my life. These thoughts aren’t real, they are a mangled mass of exhaustion shouting in my head. And most importantly, while my experience feels true, it’s just a consequence of my dark thoughts and feelings.
It was surreal, feeling all these feelings, but being able to go beyond them and look at my situation from the outside. Realizing that while what is happening IS TRUE, it isn’t THE TRUTH. Even though I’m feeling all this heaviness in my body and in my mind, it’s not something that I created myself. It’s just the fatigue.
You have two options when are sleep deprived. First option is to make this tiredness your truth. You will start believing your feelings and your thoughts. They will reinforce one another and all life power will slowly drain from you. Which will inevitably lead you to option two. Let yourself feel and think freely, knowing that all feelings and thoughts pass in time. Don’t give them your power by grabbing onto them.
This option will make your life easier, but it won’t solve your problem. The only thing that will solve your problem is more sleep. Nothing takes precedence over this. Nothing. You need to find every single possibility to allow yourself more sleep.
My own situation was so dire, that I had to organize my whole life differently. I went to bed as early as I could and slept as late as I could (I started working at 10am.) I did everything I could since my biggest wish was to see colors again. I wanted desperately to feel glimpses of happiness and lightness, and I did – in the moments when I felt rested.
This world would be such a better place in so many ways, if sleep was prioritized as much as productivity, success or money. Dear readers, value your sleep and inner peace above all. Marvel at the colors and avoid the darkness at all costs.