“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
At this time if year, I always end up in survival mode. My last entry was about ways to deal with overwhelm. I implemented a bunch of strategies to try to stave off the feelings of anxiety. I started taking a day of the week to unplug from technology. I scheduled a designated day a week to focus on self-care. I felt like that should take care of it. However, the best laid plans do not always work.
Both of those strategies have been useful. However, what I realize, is that without adequate sleep, nothing matters. The world looks darker and more ominous when I am not getting a decent amount of sleep. My tank of energy quickly runs dry. I get cranky. I catastrophize everything that is happening in my life. Everything feels overwhelming and I feel like I have no control over anything. I also end up spending more time at home alone because I don’t want to bother other people with my toxic attitude for the holiday season.
That is how my last week has been. Yesterday was a rotten day. By noon, I was spinning down the rabbit hole. I spoke with my mother later in the day. She said that maybe I should go talk to my doctor because this time of year was always tough on me. It has been grey for a long time in my neck of the woods. I am a month outside of getting my MS infusion which makes me feel off. She advised me to book an appointment with my doctor to see if she could recommend a medication that may help. I instantly got my back up when she mentioned medication. To me, it indicated that by needing that, I was failing. I know that is not how it was meant, but that is how it felt at the time. I don’t know why I still to this day feel like mental health is something I need to fight against when I may need a bit of a boost to my medication. For three quarters of the year, I do fine with my mood. However, December and January are always a struggle. Things seem darker (they are here in Alberta) and everything feels overwhelming. If my MS was acting up and I had a relapse, I would never fight against having my medication tweaked. But when it comes to mental health, I feel like I should be able to just strong arm through it. Apply a stiff upper lip and you can get through it.
That is just wrong. I can see that now in the light of day when I am not locked in anxiety. Last night I decided to give in and take a medication to help me sleep. I actually slept through the night. And peacefully without any bad dreams. I woke up and the sun was shining. It was such a lovely feeling to wake up with clear head and feeling well rested. Everything looked brighter. I can see solutions now to problems that just yesterday seemed unsolvable. My first thought was, “I should go shopping. I should call friends.” I quickly shut that down though. I find having a chronic illness, my first response to feeling rested is that I want to push myself to do all the stuff I haven’t been able to. Today though, I have the clarity of foresight. If I push myself today, I will end up where I was yesterday very quickly. I feel good today and am going to allow myself softness and ease. I know that I feel better today, but the storm is not over. I am still depleted in my MS medication for another month. It will still be grey for long periods of time. I need to fill up my reservoir of energy so I can maintain some perspective in times of stress.
I write a blog for people to find answers on how to live well with a chronic illness. However, if truth be told, I live with a chronic illness but do not have all the answers. All we can do is try our best to sail through and over the storms that show up in our lives. All I can do is make suggestions and tell you of my triumphs and failures and hopefully some of them can provide some shelter for you during rough waters. My conclusion today is that sleep is the most important thing on this journey. Sleep is a dipstick to health. When sleep is off, so is our health. I hope you can find ways to find the peace you need to allow sleep to help heal you and provide a clearer perspective of your circumstance.