Search

How a depressive period made me realise that sleep is a gift

How a depressive period made me realise that sleep is a gift. Click to read or pin to save for later. | www.sicklessons.com | #sleep #mentalhealth #wellbeing #insomnia #sicklessons #lifelessons

How a depressive period made me realise that sleep is a gift

“Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go”
Let Her Go, Passenger

In other words, you don’t know what you’re missing til’ it’s gone.

Have you ever lost someone or something that had been with you for a long time, but you didn’t realise their presence and value, until they slipped right through your hands? They were always there, and you thought that this would always be so. You knew that they were important. You knew that you needed them. But for some reason, you took them for granted.

Until one day, crisis knocked on the door and snatched them away from you. For a few days? For a long time? Permanently? You did not know. All you knew was that they left a big void, and you desperately wanted them back. Whatever it took.

Painful, isn’t it? Scary, too.

Whatever or whomever you’ve lost, I can say that in a way, I get you. I have a long list of losses, and none of them can prepare you for the next one. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I almost lost something that I never imagined could just disappear.

I Stopped Sleeping. Literally.

I had the flu for two weeks. It was awful, but I knew that I was going to be fine in the next couple of days. It had always been that way, or so I thought.

I had trouble sleeping. I would sleep for a few hours in the morning, a little more in the afternoon, and some at night. It did not worry me as I had always been like that whenever taken ill.

But I kept tossing and turning one night. My already aching body felt like it was hit by a truck the next morning. But I thought that I would probably fall asleep during the day, and feel better after. Yet sleep was still elusive. Night came and I thought that I would hit the sack early, as my body was already screaming for a long and good night’s sleep. I thought that I would feel great the next morning, then go back to work.

12 hours passed and I was still wide awake. As soon as the sun rose, panic and shivers ran through my body. My pain levels went through the roof. I was sweating profusely, pale as a sheet, nauseous, and out of my mind. I was crying desperately and begging for sleep to return. I felt like I was dying, and knew for certain that I would not last another night without sleep. It was a life and death moment for me, and I was running out of time.

I told my family and we did not waste any time. We went to see a doctor in the morning, and met my boss in the afternoon to let him know that I desperately needed to take a longer break. Just thinking about the endless piles of work that had accumulated over the few of weeks during my absence was driving me literally insane.

My boss showed composure, sincerity and compassion that somehow calmed the chaos in my mind. He also said something that flipped a switch for me.

Sleep Is A Gift

He looked at me in the eye and said, “You know, Mary, when my business was not doing well a few years ago, I could not sleep. You see, I sold my house, everything I owned, left my job and my country to build this school. They said it would be easy and that it’d cost me just a small amount of money. But neither was true. It was a tough time for me and my family. But you know what? One day, I realised that sleep is a gift. A beautiful gift.”

For a moment, I felt that time stood still. I was in awe of what he had just said.

Sleep… is…a…gift?

When someone thoughtfully gives me a gift, I receive it enthusiastically. I unwrap it excitedly. I keep it, I treasure it, I use it, I take care of it. Most importantly, I’m grateful for it.

Then I asked myself, “Have I ever treated sleep as a gift?”

Well, I couldn’t count how many times I had fought off sleepiness and stayed up late for studies, work, events, or parties. Sure, it happens. That’s normal. Yet many of those scenarios could have been avoided had I known how to proritise and manage my time. Or if I hadn’t been such a big people pleaser, doing everything on my own. I had even wished that I could sleep less, in order to accomplish more. (Okay, that just made cringe.)

The beauty and magic of sleep’s mechanism had never crossed my mind. And how it significantly serves my mind, body and spirit. Heck, I had never even thought of thanking my body and my God for it! I did not hate it. But I did not love it either. It was just there, existing, but I had never acknowledged its presence like I should have. Until I lost it temporarily (thank goodness!).

I was prescribed a sleeping pill. It promised eight hours of sleep, but my anxiety was so bad that I only got 2-3 hours per night. After a few minutes of taking the pill, I would see images and start to babble. It was scary for me, but hey, I was desperate.

All I could say was, “Truly, sleep is a gift. A very precious one. And I want to have it back.”

I was finally able to sleep naturally again about three weeks later! From that day onwards, whenever I feel sleepy, I just surrender. And when I open my eyes in the morning, I say ‘thank you’ for a long and good night’s sleep.

What’s Next

I challenge you to treat sleep as a gift. Tonight, turn your screens off at least an hour before going to bed. Create the best mood for a good night’s sleep (slow music, a warm shower, chamomile tea, lavender scent, dark and cool room – whatever works for you). When you wake up in the morning, express your gratitude for the best sleep ever.

Your Turn

Do you believe that sleep is a gift? How many hours do you usually get every night?

Have you had any trouble sleeping? Do you have any sleeping tips or hacks to share?

Let us know in the comments below, and please do not take sleep for granted.

AUTHOR BIO:

Mary Gutierrez profile

Mary is a thriving spoonie, a health blogger, an online solopreneur and a natural healing advocate. She is on a mission to help women with chronic illness thrive by sharing natural healing success stories, tools, programs and tips that focus on real food. Connect with her on: Blog, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest.

Comments: 30

  • Tara
    4 months ago

    I have an interesting relationship with sleep so I totally agree that it is a gift. I rarely get more than 4hrs. Last night I got 8! I’ve learned not to fight it and go with the flow. Some days are a struggle but I still function and try to keep to w routine

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Tara, I feel you. Keeping a routine surely helps. I’m glad you had 8hrs last night and I hope it will be like that every night. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to share your story. Sending love and good vibes your way! ~Mary

  • Kaari
    4 months ago

    The beginning of this post was…beautiful. It was just me. What happened to me just so lately. There was a person. He was my friend. He was always around. And if he left I was just…empty. I thought we have time forever… I would have been nicer to him if I would have known and spent more time with him. He is still there somewhere, but I just can’t approach him anymore…

    http://www.editions-lumiere.com/

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      I’m sorry, Kaari. That’s so sad. Thank you for sharing your heart to us. Hugs 🙁

  • Prerana
    4 months ago

    I relate to this post a lot. Since, I’ve personally struggled with depression. Itbwas either being up the whole time or sleeping for days. Right amount of sleep is very important.

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      So true, Prerana. It’s tough. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. Gentle and extra long hugs!

  • Monidipa Dutta
    4 months ago

    This is really helpful. And you are right sleep is a gift..

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Indeed! Thank you, Monidipa. All the best!

  • Candy
    4 months ago

    Thanks for this! I’ve always been team sleep! Glad you are doing better now!

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Team sleep! Yay! Hahah. Yes, I’m doing great. I hope you are as well. Thank you so much, Candy.

  • Kris
    4 months ago

    I’m definitely guilty of not getting enough sleep and it shows the following day. Sluggish, unproductive and slow to respond. You’ve made me realise that I need to start tracking my sleeping patterns in order to make a positive change.

    Maybe reading directly before bed will help?

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Hey, Kris! For some people, reading before bed helps them but make sure it’s not on your phone or any device emitting blue light. And I hope the story does not make your heart pumping with intense emotions 🙂 Thank you for your kind words and I hope you get some good sleep tonight.

  • Rebecca
    4 months ago

    Thanks for emphasizing sleep! I feel like many times we can feel forced to just go, go, go. We definitely need to listen to our bodies more! Personally, I am very guilty of contributing to my lack of focus on good sleep with all of the time I spend with my phone. Something I need to work on!

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      How about a screen free time a couple of hours before bed time? It can be tough at first but you can do it! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Hope you get some good sleep, Rebecca.

  • Lydia
    4 months ago

    Mary, this is a very important post. I first lost sleep when I started showing signs of bipolar, even though I wasn’t diagnosed until over 10 years later. Now that is totally under control but pain levels and other chronic symptoms control how much/little sleep I get. You are so right about how important it is to our health and well-being.

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Lydia, thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I hope you get some quality rest tonight. Gentle and warm hugs for you.

  • Cassie Jewell
    4 months ago

    I can relate! I have chronic insomnia. When I actually get a great night of sleep, it’s an amazing feeling. If you’re interested, I wrote a research-based blog post on some of the harms of sleep deprivation. Just shoot me an email. 🙂

    • Cassie Jewell
      4 months ago

      Also, the best advice I can offer to anyone who struggles with insomnia is to invest in a CBT workshop for insomnia. Research indicates that CBT is more effective than medications. As a mental health professional, it’s what I recommend to my clients.

      • Mary
        4 months ago

        Oh, I didn’t notice this right away. Could you tell us more about CBT workshop?

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Cassie, how do you cope with chronic insomnia? Do you mind sharing some quick tips that have helped you the most?

      • Cassie Jewell
        2 months ago

        Sorry, I’m just now seeing this. Honestly, I don’t have any great tips other than CBT-I and having a regular sleep schedule.. I toss and turn most nights. I was on Ambien for awhile, but quickly became dependent so I stopped using it. However, I’ve changed my outlook so that instead of feeling super anxious about not being able to fall asleep, I accept that I won’t sleep well some nights. I remind myself that I’ve gotten by on little to no sleep before. I try to practice healthy sleep hygiene, but it’s difficult with shift work. I haven’t been able to complete a CBT-I workshop as of now, but my mother (who also struggles with chronic insomnia) did; it worked wonders for her.

        Regarding CBT-I, you can go through your insurance or see a private practitioner. There are also online workshops available: http://www.myshuti.com/ or https://www.cbtforinsomnia.com. (Disclaimer: I haven’t tried either of those course, but they’re evidence-based programs.)

        Hope this helps!

  • Char (Chronically Hopeful)
    4 months ago

    That is a very cool way to view sleep. When I was first diagnosed, I struggled so much to fall asleep. Between pain and restless legs as well as an inverted body clock due to ME/cfs.

    Those nights are hard… but my therapist gave me some tips and after a few weeks I was able to sleep from 6-8 hours every night. Whenever my body gets out of sync again, I just implement her method again and my body resets. I am very grateful for good sleep.

    I’m glad you have found a way to get good sleep at night. It makes such a difference to our condition the following day, doesn’t it?

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      So true, Char! Huge difference. Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you’ve found a way that works for you. Do you mind sharing it?

  • Claire Saul
    4 months ago

    Mary (&Sheryl), This is such an interesting and refreshing read! Thank you. When I was a Night Sister I really learnt the true beauty of sleep and the impact that sleep deprivation can have on your body…..2 night shifts a week (not fixed days) plus days shifts for management and teaching….and 3 young children at home, my body didn’t know whether it was coming or going. Whilst my sleep has been disturbed in a very different way with pain and illness, I do try not to worry when i can’t sleep and curl up with a speaking book or a mindfulness app or music.
    I have shared this on my regular feature on PainPals “Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You!” Claire x

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      Thank you, Claire! I really appreciate it. I’ve tried working night shifts before and they messed up my bio clock. Here’s to more good and restful sleep for us!

  • Chronic Mom
    4 months ago

    I’ve always had a hard time getting enough sleep, and chronic pain has just made it worse. Sleep is absolutely a gift that you don’t know you have until you lose it.

    • Mary
      4 months ago

      I’m sorry to hear that, Shelley. 🙁 Thank you for sharing your story. Gentle and warm hugs.

  • Lowen Puckey
    3 months ago

    I haven’t had a good natural sleep in 14yrs, unfortunately, due to the hyper-awareness I developed after having my disabled daughter. I am very aware that sleep is behind so many body and mind processes and I would love to sleep more. I think anxiety is the enemy of sleep too – all those thoughts bouncing around your head! Lowen @ livingpositivelywithdisability.com

Reply