Death came for my sister this year, turning my world upside down and my sleeping habits to ashes. I went to work every day and parented my children, but I was losing it on the inside. Maybe the unreleased grief caused insomnia or maybe it was just my age.
Everything I could have done differently was brought to the forefront of my mind when I closed my eyes. Past memories and conversations came alive again once the night descended. The rest of society would dream without the knowledge they had failed someone that day. They didn’t say goodbye or didn’t hug or didn’t appreciate it, but they were still ignorant of that fact, for the moment.
I knew this grief would pass. It was not my first experience with it. Insomnia was new for me though. It seemed that the night was just there to remind me of the things I avoided feeling or thinking during the daylight hours. Nothing internally had ever prevented my sleep before and I was shocked. My children were long past the age of keeping me up.
I would dread the night and approach the long, silent hours already defeated. As someone who has always been able to sleep for six to nineteen hours straight, this was a huge shock to my system. It was so bad that I considered it torture.
I went to the doctor. Of course, they gave me prescription pills. The pills worked too well. I didn’t wake up for work three days in a row. This didn’t surprise me as I have always been extremely sensitive to medications. If you read my article on meditation, you will know I failed at all of my many attempts to master meditation. Nonetheless, I tried it yet again will the same results. I knew then that stricter measures must be taken.
I tried an app that promoted relaxation methods. One method was mindful breathing, which is basically what it sounds like. You breathe according to the inhale/ exhale rhythm that the app tells you.
Surprisingly, it did help calm me down when I got overly anxious, but it did not put me to sleep. I am lactose intolerant so I could not try the warm milk method, but I did try hot toddies and hot tea that promoted sleepiness. I hated the tea and got drunk on the other. I didn’t go to sleep, but I had a nice night.
This bout with insomnia didn’t take long before I started feeling the effects on my body and seeing the effects on my face. As an already intolerable grump, I got even crabbier and my temper got much shorter. I tried a strict routine with the intention of trying to sleep train myself. I bought a weighted blanket, essential oils, and CBD oil. I even tried sleeping sprays, which I had never known existed before this point. But Febreeze scented for sleep does not work.
The cure came by way of advice that I normally would have politely acknowledged but immediately forgot. It was the sort of cure my southern grandmother would have recommended that seemed almost worse than the complaint. Like the remedy to drink buttermilk, which tastes like a murder charge, to ease stomach pains. I will just wait out the pains, Grandma.
This was recommended by an older person that I am friends with and she told me to rub two drops of castor oil on my eyelids. I scoffed it off, but she was extremely convincing and I was extremely desperate so the fates aligned. I bought castor oil. No, all southerners don’t keep that on hand, but I will from now on. I did my wine, bath, skin, and evening bedtime routine. Then I dabbed two drops on each eyelid and rubbed it in.
I settled down beside my husband and told him it wasn’t working. Then, I woke up. I had slept over seven hours and I was amazed. I don’t know if the castor oil did it alone, or if my brain was just ready, but I will forever be in debt to that jar of disgustingness and my friend.
My insomnia has gone away for the most part and life has moved on for all of us, however stunted. We are learning a new way of life without her in it. That is what she would want us to do.