When going to bed takes more energy than sleep gives

At my lowest, which is far more often than I would like, I struggle to go to bed because I feel tomorrow will not hold anything better than today. The problem with this thinking is I am human. I still require sleep, and I am unable to control the passage of time to prevent tomorrow arriving.

Tackling false thoughts like this in my head is something I have been working to master for over a decade. Even when I am unfathomably tired from having played a day of tournament level sport, or working a full and mentally taxing day, I sometimes physically struggle to go to bed. The getting ready for bed process is short; use legs to walk to the bathroom, clean teeth, put on pyjamas, get into bed. Simple right? Well, much like getting up in the morningis for me, this process includes intense unconscious emotional and mental effort. So many thoughts run through my head eliciting so much emotion that I struggle to quiet or move safely to one side for later. My legs feel as if they are made of concrete, every step taking immense physical, mental, and emotional energy. Energy that sleeping does not seem to replenish. It’s like my daily schedule for my brain is off kilter and I can’t figure out why.

Thoughts in my head turn to all the nights this has happened, because, surely no one else has this problem? Everyone else seems to go to bed and sleep just fine. I become annoyed at myself, and these negative emotions keep me awake so sleep is even more of a struggle to come by if I do manage to make it to bed.

This problem creates a cycle in my head where I assume failure is the only outcome possible for anything I am to do the next day. I constantly think about the sleep I didn’t get, about the alarm I snoozed, and the almost enjoyable plans I had for the day – even if extra sleep is a good decision and I had no appointments I have to reschedule. Communicating with people I like talking to becomes difficult. I falsely tell myself they would be put out by me contacting them, even though I know time spent with friends, simply talking to some of these special people, helps me feel a little more human. Picking up and playing guitars becomes a strain, even though objectively I know any day I spend time playing them I feel better.
Self care is important, and I am not anywhere near good enough at accepting when I am making a positive choice for my wellbeing.

It can take weeks of processing time to begin to understand that today is today, and, if I sleep well, tomorrow can be a good day. Knowing this truth does not seem to help which is further dissatisfying. I repeatedly tell myself, out loud, calmly at first and then with increasingly more feeling:

“Go to bed Hamish, you will feel better tomorrow.”

However, parts of me I seem to have no control over, conspire to win most of the time, metaphorically laughing off my attempts to be anything other than the unproductive person I see myself as. Again, even though I objectively know this to be a lie.

Days like today I feel broken, like there’s something wrong with the cogs and machinery that make me function. I feel fragile, like even if did try to break out of the cycle something else would bend to breaking point. This leads me to feel helpless, to feel unable to make any decisions other than the ones which repeat this cycle.

There was less positivity in this writing than I intended. My soul has an innate desire to help people, and when I communicate thoughts such as these my empathetic nature (unhelpfully) feels bad for those who have listened or read them.

I hope this insight into tough days for me helps in some way. We all have tough days,  each with different reasons they are tough for us.

Reaching out can be a struggle, even when we know we need to. Get to know those close to you so you can learn when to reach in to help. Be available when you can. Listen, and think about whether a response is necessary. Our ears are far better for listening than our mouths.

Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear reader.

Peace, and may you rise up and strive to overcome your tough days.

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