chronic illness · mental health · writings

chronic fatigue syndrome & insomnia; when you’re too tired to sleep

What’s interesting about CFS is that regardless of how exhausted you are, how debilitated your brain feels due to the excessive tiredness and weakness taking over your body, there is still this wonderful (I say that in a sarcastic tone) element to the condition that is known as insomnia. When your body is completely shattered, yet your brain is still so hypersensitive and overstimulated from the activities of the day (REGARDLESS of how much you desperately tried to stay calm and ‘restful’), that your mind just simply does not seem to know how to shut off at the end of the day.

It’s ridiculous; you allow yourself to have little day time sleeps because your migraines are too all-consuming to cope with the light and noise any longer, your muscles are too weak to move and you spend the majority of your time consciously avoiding anything stimulating in your diet and trying to live as a calm a lifestyle as possible, yet when it comes down to those silent, peaceful night hours, when everyone else seems to just drop off easily to dream land, and you are there wrestling with your internal monologue of anxiety and intensity, desperately trying to persuade yourself to sleeeeeeeeeep.

Oh no, apparently when your body is exhausted and your system is completely all out of sync with itself, your mind seems to think that when the light goes out, it’s playtime. Alllllll of those wonderful intrusive and anxious thoughts pop up through the woodwork that you have been so carefully hiding away and self regulating so as not to appear crazy in public by having a meltdown or panic attack, all of your hard work pretending to be a normal, subdued human being all seems to come undone the moment you find yourself alone with, well, your own mind.

Queue: insomnia!

Well, thanks for that. It’s not like I needed the rest or anything. It’s okay, chronic exhaustion and weakness has become pretty much the norm for my reality now, my body can handle being woken up several times a night in an anxiety-ridden night-sweat-laden scratch attack, where my body is so hot and bothered from so much twisting in and out of my cerebral synapses (is that even a thing!?), that I wake up more often that not in the middle of the night in a sweaty, hot, itchy, anxious mess. And then lie awake for several more hours attempting to calm my head down again and remind myself that there is nothing I can do, that I am not in control, life is going to happen tomorrow whether I like it or not, so stop worrying about it (ha! if ONLY it were THAT easy!).

Truth is, chronic fatigue syndrome sucks. Like hell. Exhaustion, muscle fatigue, post exertional malaise, fibromyalgia flares, chronic pain, intense period cramps, nausea, migraines, constant sense of overwhelm, hypersensitivity, headaches, increased allergies and chemical sensitivities due to a wacked out immune system, a hyperactive nervous system that cannot seem to tell whether I’m coming or going, brain fog, poor concentration, SHOCKING short term memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, intense anxiety, panic attacks, breathing difficulties, the list goes on. And then there is this wonderful thing called INSOMNIA that makes everything just that little bit more difficult to cope with. (Everything is more difficult to cope with on less sleep, it’s just a fact of life).

I found this little guy online, and thought he describes my state of being pretty damn well:


Does anyone else struggle with insomnia related issues in chronic illness? Or just insomnia in general? Any tips for coping?

Mell x


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