I learned something new about myself as I stared at the ceiling of my bedroom, as blog ideas, paper ideas, half finished conversations, life questions and my to-do list swirled through my head.
I get insomnia. And headaches. And I eat crapily.
As I started thinking about the times that I have had insomnia (and the other symptoms) in the past, I began to see a pattern.
I had insomnia for the entirety of hell year. I would go to bed around 9:30 pm. Lie awake looking at the ceiling, worrying about the bad ass kids I was supposed to teach. Finally, doze off about 3 or 4 am, and wake up at 5:30 to go to work.
At work I would go hide in the teacher’s lounge and cat nap in the bathroom (on the floor) or I would fall asleep during small reading group when the kids would read to me.
After work, I would spend 2 hours at the gym, go home, have dinner, have a couple of glasses of wine, take a sleeping pill (or three) and go to bed. Then I would start the cycle all over again.
Four years ago, I started a new job, that I loved and for most of my employment there I took children’s Benadryl at night to help me fall asleep.
When I was studying for the GRE and LSAT 2 years ago, all the benadryl in the world couldn’t help me sleep the whole night through.
Every time I go visit the GF in Atlanta, the first night there is always spend restlessly calming down after the 6 hour drive.
You see, Stressd Moni = No Sleep
So a few weeks ago, the headaches started. I thought it was the holidays. Or the constant NC-GA traveling. Or the crazy weather we were having . Or the GF.
Then I found myself staying awake until 2 am or later. I thought it was because I was sleeping with the TV on (*cough*, gf’s fault) or because I was working on my capstone, or I was writing or tweeting or because of one thing or another.
But lately, things have gotten worse. Even when I try to go to sleep “early”, at let’s say 1 am, I still find myself restless and screaming into my pillow. I usually doze off at about 4 am.
Then morning comes and I drag my aching head out of the bed and into the kitchen, where I find that all I have to eat is canned soup, oatmeal, chocolate cake and popcorn (just slight exaggeration) because I haven’t been to the grocery in weeks. So I eat chocolate cake (sans milk) for breakfast/lunch and get to work.
And I sit in front of the computer all day. I’m working on my capstone, which this week means I’m data mining email addresses from downtown development authority websites. Very tedious and mindless.
So mindless, that hours pass before I realize that all I’ve had to eat all day is chocolate cake. So I go back into the kitchen, get discouraged and eat some popcorn.
And go back to work.
Pathetic, sure. Stressful? Not really.
So what is my problem?
Then I remember my pattern. Not eating well, Not sleeping well, constant headaches. Hhhmmmm. Sounds like stress.
But Monica, you’re still on vacation, the semester hasn’t even started, and your capstone is coming along. What do you have to be stressed about?
At some point, I’ve learned to live at a high anxiety level. So, even when things are good, I CREATE stress. Or the perception of stress. And if there is a little stress, I make it BIGGER. And if there is big stress, then oh boy!
I’m crazy. *sigh*
So, when I realized today that maybe the insomnia and heaviness that I’ve been feeling is stress related and not emotional or hormonal or a symptom of the coming full moon, I started evaluating my life and my stressors.
Know what I found?
Not stress. Not worry. Not really fear.
I found EXCITEMENT.
I am so CRUNK about this semester. My class schedule is amazing!
I have so many IDEAS. A new blog, short story characters, capstone stuff and business ideas have all taken up residence in my brain.
I will be starting a new employment opportunity soon.
I’ve set up lessons with a swim coach!
I bought a book that will help me create healthy meal plans!
I graduate in MAY and will be moving SOMEWHERE fabulous.
I’m finding direction in my life and I’m happy with where it’s going.
Even the things that scare me sh*tless like my classes or my capstone are contributing to the feeling of accomplishment and excitement and you-can do-it ness that I’m feeling.
I’m beginning to believe that stress doesn’t have to be bad. Stress (and it’s alter ego, excitement) can give us energy, and get our adrenaline pumping.
I’m glad I have been able to see that I’m excited (which is good), rather than worried or scared (which would be bad.) I can use this excitement to get me through the next 6 months and make sure I get all my sh*t done on time.
I should probably stay up until 4 and get everything OUT of my head since I’m going to be awake anyway.
And when my body is ready to calm down, it will.