It’s one thing to not be a morning person, it’s another thing to suffer from insomnia. My entire childhood I suffered from chronic hypo mania, and my family didn’t know much about mental illness at the time so, everyone just thought I was cranky in the morning. It was common knowledge to not talk to me in the morning cause I wasn’t pleasant like the rest of the family and probably came across angry or intolerable when really, I was suffering from lack of regular sleep and had no one to turn to. My condition reached far beyond just being “cranky.” Every night when it was time to go to bed, I would start to get waves of anxiety knowing that I would be up for hours staring at the clock fueled with anxiety knowing that I had to get up for school the next day, and had only run on two or three hours of sleep. I shared a room with my little sister and would watch her drift off to sleep and wonder what was wrong with me. Then some time during the day, I would be in class and feel debilitating exhaustion, and would have to force myself to sit up straight, and not let my head fall down and sleep on my desk. It was torturous.
Fast forward years later, my family was at a wedding for my cousin, and my sister and I shared a hotel room, and once again I was restless and barely getting any sleep. I recall her telling my Dad, “Erica never sleeps you know.” It was the first time I ever heard her say that, and it was interesting to hear her observation that after all those years sharing a room together.
Even to this day I suffer from insomnia and sleep issues. It almost feels like PTSD, cause I have medication so it should curb the inability to sleep like a “normal” person but, at 42-years-old I’m still like that little girl stuck in her insomniac mind, and although I’ve done my best to accept it, it’s the thought that this condition will most likely be my reality for the remainder of my life, which is annoying. I’m not going to return to my self medication days which were back in my twenties, when things were really bad, and I would smoke marijuana to put myself into a coma to rest pretty much every night cause, that’s not a lifestyle I want to live or re-become accustomed to so, like I said, it’s the acceptance that this is my reality that I have to face. It is something I’m going to have to embrace, and do things like meditate, work out, eat right, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule but, when you suffer from insomnia, there really is no regular sleep schedule. For me, every night is different. Some nights I will fall asleep and wake up every three hours. Other nights I take a couple hours to fall asleep and, stare at the ceiling. I just roll with the insomniac punches.
I say all this cause, if you have a child that isn’t a “morning person,” that might not be the case. They might have an underlying condition that reaches far beyond being cranky in the morning. They might suffer on a daily basis from crippling insomnia and, as a result, struggle in class. Like me, they might not even know how to articulate their sleepless nights and just live with it cause they think it’s normal. So, if you have a child with sleep issues sit them down and talk to them. Open that door to communication cause if in fact they do have something going on that’s bigger than just not being a morning person, you want to address it before they spend the rest of their life thinking insomnia is normal. They might spend the rest of their life walking around with a condition that needs clinical attention.