Exhausted

I’m completely exhausted today. Although I habitually have sleep problems, every once in a while, I have a particularly awful night where I get virtually no sleep or truly no sleep. It used to happen a lot more frequently–I’d estimate once every other week or at least once every third week–but in the past year, the frequency has dropped precipitously. I can’t even remember the last time that my sleep was as nonexistent as it was last week, which I guess is actually a good sign of progress. I’ve likely had one or two nights like that in the past year, but that’s about a twenty-fold improvement over the two or three years prior to that. I find it mostly counterproductive to analyze why the night went so poorly. It ends up identifying potential factors that I’m already aware of in all likelihood, yet consciously acknowledging those issues tends to build anxiety when they may crop up on a subsequent night. If, for example, I consider how the unusual ruckus of loud planes when I was first starting to drift to sleep was jarring and catapulted me out of the desired drowsiness that was overtaking me, the next time the same type of cacophony of planes sounded outside my window, I’d take it as signal that now my sleep was going to be ruined. It’s like I’d prejudge the disruptiveness of whatever issue I identified as soon as it reappeared on a subsequent night, in such a way as to resign myself to its catastrophic effects. By not dwelling on specific causes of an awful night of sleep, I avoid this negative self-fulfilling prophecy. And like I said, on some level, I’m already aware enough of the factors that are within my control, and I’ll try to prevent these from happening, as I always do.

In the absence of discussing my near sleepless night (I got about one hour), I don’t have much else to report in terms of notable events. My brain is unusually garbled today, and it feels uncomfortably swollen like it’s pressing on the inside walls of my skull. I suffered through most of yesterday with a mild headache that stubbornly kept me company over night. It was significantly worsened when I slammed my head into the door jamb last night in the dark on my way to the bathroom. At first, I worried that I might have a minor concussion, but when no confusion, memory problems, or nausea resulted, this concern was lifted. In terms of the swollen feeling this morning, I am confident that it’s nothing serious. This is a typical sensation I experience with a certain type of headache. That said, although not anxiety-provoking, it is still uncomfortable.

The other thing on my mind is that my car failed state inspection on Saturday because of a broken turn signal marker light and totally bald tires. We are working on fixing the issues and hopefully it’ll pass upon these corrections. Although I drive very little, I do use my car regularly, especially in the winter, to transport myself to my various appointments and therapies. It’s a bit of a junker, and eighteen years old at this point, so it’s not surprising that it needed work before it was deemed minimally safe.

I’m glad that today is a standard schedule for me, with my primary responsibility being my job. I don’t have any appointments, so I will avoid the added stress and fatigue they cause. I’m enjoying my current work project, although it involves especially careful editing, so I need to limit the duration of my working chunks and take frequent breaks so that my focus doesn’t wane, which can cause complacency. Instead of doing something physically- or mentally-stimulating during my breaks, I’ll probably need to opt for restorative activities, as much as that’s disappointing and boring to me. These types of relaxation activities are nonproductive in the traditional sense (in that they don’t produce tangible progress towards anything yet they are “productive” in their non-exhausting qualities), so they leave me feeling depressed and useless because I derive the necessary happiness and self-esteem to satisfy baseline levels from accomplishing things and being productive.

When I fall short of what I consider the threshold of this level of accomplishment, I get really down on myself and chide my uselessness. I should really work on editing my mental rubric so that I recognize the value of resting and listening to my body, and consequently don’t penalize my worthiness. Maybe today is a good day to start working toward that adjustment. Instead of ridiculing myself for “being lazy,” I’ll try to view my “wasteful, unproductive breaks” between hyper-focused bouts of hard work as the prescribed goal. By respecting my body’s needs to recuperate from only getting one hour of light sleep, these periods of downtime scattered throughout the day act as treatment, or medicine, for my ailment (exhaustion and headache). In that way, they are an important part of my overall health treatment plan, and will help reduce the likelihood that this massive sleep inadequacy will derail my physical health further and cause autoimmune repercussions. After all, how can I not be considered successful if I can prevent the real possibility of this consequence? Therefore, I’ll try to critique myself and my “performance” today not based on how much I get done, but how well I listen to my physical and mental needs. Today, “success” will look like me feeling better, testing where necessary, practicing self-compassion, and staying as relaxed about the viability of a good night’s sleep as much as possible.

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