Friday, June 1, 2012

Honesty

Honesty. Let us reflect upon the word together and discuss its meaning. The word is often overlooked or taken for granted as a virtue, because the truth can be a hard thing to face. But as they say, the truth will set you free, and I hope my being honest does the same.

Writing about hypothyroidism has been a fun learning experience, including the feedback I’ve received from people telling me their stories. I’ve written about my frustrations and my experimenting with food lifestyles and thyroid medicine doses. I did a little research on what foods may affect the thyroid in a negative way, and started looking into what forms of exercise can be beneficial to those with thyroid disease. But there was a symptom of hypothyroidism I kept close to my heart, something that I felt was slowly ruining my life and all I held dear.

Three little words, my dear readers: sleep maintenance insomnia (SMI).

A good cat nap is apparently hard to come by.

This post was originally going to portray a "Why me?!" diary entry, filled with ranting, less than positive language, and feeling sorry for myself. But after two days of fully slept nights, with the exception of getting up to use the bathroom and drink a glass of water by my bed, I hold my head high and wish to tell you this story honestly and completely.

There’s that word again. Honest.

 Now, I have told people of my less than awesome sleeping habits, about how not days, not weeks, but months passed by with my SMI waking me up between 2:30 and 4:00 most mornings on less than five hours of REM sleep.  I woke up starving, so I would fill my clawing hunger with an early breakfast and attempt to go back to sleep. But the damage was already done. Over six months of this terrible secret of mine kept me from being social after hours and rekindling my orthorexic tendencies and anorexic habits. I was so terrified that I was gaining weight I upped my workout habits to such a degree that it made matters worse.

Thus the vicious cycle repeated itself, day after day and night after night: lack of sleep leads to eating more leads to working out. I looked myself in the mirror and saw distortion. I found myself bringing out my worst inner critic, the one that screamed “Not Good Enough” and “How are you not losing weight? You must be doing it wrong.” I tried, dear readers, I really did. I did eat. I did exercise. And I did try certain remedies for a complete REM cycle: yoga, hot baths, a light snack right before bed, no caffeine after three in the afternoon…  

Herbal tea? Been there... done that.

But every morning I looked out to see streetlights glaring against the pitch black night, and felt my stomach growl like a predator that demands an easy meal.

I became so obsessed with controlling things like when and what I ate, how many times I exercised per week and for how long, because I felt that my life was spiraling out of control. No matter how busy I was or how many posts I published on Meals with Morri, my fatigue pushed me to work harder, to see more people, and to exercise more often.

And I could see the looks of disappointment in my friends’ faces when I couldn’t stay out long or not go out at all. It broke my heart that my lack of sleep only gave me certain hours of the day open to see people, and that was filled with exercise, work, and blogging. I could feel the concern and the confusion when I didn’t accept how they saw me: busy, in shape, and helping others. Finally, on Tuesday, it all came crashing down.

I was on my parents’ bed, my body heaving with uncontrollable sobbing. I was so tired it hurt, my mind restless and always thinking despite its exhaustion. I was frustrated that my fitness regimen wasn’t doing what I thought it would be by the end of May (i.e., firm tummy, toned arms, happy Morri…), and I was beyond angry how I looked at myself.

I just wanted eight hours of continuous sleep each night. Is that so much to ask?


Mama Dazz, who also has hypothyroidism (but in the form of Hashimoto’s), consoled me the best she could. From what came of the conversation, all my problems were the cause of my insomnia. It is improbable, highly unlikely, and extremely difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle while suffering from insomnia. As one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it is a leading cause to weight gain (or in my case, my body was always “on”, so it couldn’t keep up with my lifestyle and held onto my "plush" for dear life). I had restricted myself and controlled everything in my life to such an extent that, when I couldn’t complete a basic state of being, I felt so broken.

So there I was, curled up in a ball, crying my eyes out that shook my entire body, feeling like I was crazy, stupid, and the most useless sentient being in the world. If my SMI had gone on for another month, it is highly likely I would have been hospitalized until I was considered “normal” again. Between a rock and a hard place, I chose another option, one I wasn’t thrilled about but I did it anyway out of desperation.

I took medicine to sleep.

In the name of my holistic beliefs and philosophies, taking medication was something I’d refused for months. At the time, I felt like I would be a complete hypocrite to take over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. I’m personally not a fan of antidepressants, and as such I do not take them. I don’t take diets pills for weight loss, and instead eat healthily to the best of my ability and exercise when I can. I felt like taking medicine to sleep was, well, cheating. And if I was a hypocritical cheater, what made me think I could run Meals with Morri with a clear conscience?  

Bangin' bread on little sleep.

At the moment, sleeping well for two nights in a row is quite an achievement, and my body is following suit. It’s starting to understand how exhausted it truly is, and what it means to slow down and turn “off”. I’m not pushing myself to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to prove how happy I am. I’m calmer and quieter, with a “sparkle” in my voice that I was told has been missing for quite some time.

There are quite a few theories why SMI has reared its grumpy head: too low a dose of thyroid medicine, boredom, restlessness, etc. And because the medicine to help me sleep seems to be working, I’m going to continue taking it for a few weeks and see how it goes. Mama Dazz has also put curtains in my bedroom to keep it dark and cool, which has also helped enormously. I’ve started seeing progress in my eating and not being ravenous all the time. Oh, and my climbing seemed to improve overnight, so I’m rather happy with that in particular .

My sincerest hope is that I’ll continue sleeping, and that we can continue to share our stories honestly with each other. I end this post with an interesting read I found on sleep:

“People say, 'I'm going to sleep now,' as if it were nothing. But it's really a bizarre activity. 'For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I'm going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.'

If you didn't know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you'd seen.

They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the 'mind adventures' got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren't unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.'

So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you're in a science fiction movie. And whisper, 'The creature is regenerating itself.”

Pleasant dreams, my dear readers. Here’s to finally sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

2 comments:

  1. You are a talented writer and very insightful. As for honor, I would have to say that it is a lifestyle.

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    1. Thank you so much. It means a lot. :)

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