How low can you go, the insomnia edition

Brain sand.  When you move your eyes or sometimes even when you are still – flip, flip, the sand moves through your head and it feels like a little seizure.  Many can happen in a row.  Then none for a while, then many.

Even as you lay down you know it is only to feel sick, not to sleep.  Sleep is nowhere in your brain.  It has left the building.  Your eyes want it;  they can barely stay open.  But your brain, your brain is flicking on all nerve ending cylinders – frantic, desperate.  Rescue me.

Rescue me.

Hysteria is more at the door than ever.  When you do lose consciousness around who knows 4 am, 5 am, you have terrifying and frantic nightmares about you being somewhere doing something and no one able to help you.  You scream for that help over and over and in your dream your mouth guard keeps being pushed out of your mouth only for another one to come from behind it, making you gag.  You wake with your mouth guard halfway out of your mouth.  You know you have actually been screaming help but no one has heard.  Just as well as that would be awkward, wouldn’t it?

How the fuck are you going to make it through this day – standing up takes an effort; by the time you are in the shower with the sand somewhat violently shifting in your brain you know that today is such an impossibility.  You are hot and sweating even after turning off all of the hot water radiators.  Everywhere is stuffy.  You open a window wide and gulp in the fresh air.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  How will you get through this day.

Exercising doesn’t seem to settle the beast (make no mistake it is a beast) so sometimes you give in and just lay about in your room and watch Netflix after Netflix.  You read, you try you try you try.

All of the trying.

You are to meet a friend and her lovely squishy squashy loves everyone baby and you look forward to this and you will go despite feeling like you can’t even handle walking the 15 minutes to the bus stop.

Nauseous, dizzy, verging, always verging on hysterical.

Short term memory?  Forget that.  Yesterday you forgot your bag in the computer lab at the school where you sometimes teach.  Luckily, when you returned, no one had stolen it.

You make so many mistakes too in paperwork, in almost everything.  How do I . . you wonder.  Poof, it is all gone.

Verging hysteria.

You take sleep medication all ready – a combo pack, a cocktail.  It works sometimes, other times not at all.  It would knock out an elephant if that elephant were not as addicted to it all as you are.

Try natural remedies, they encourage.  Have you thought about writing down  your worries, suggests someone else.  Go all natural, says someone, those pills are not good for you.  When I had insomnia, well I . . .

It is apparently your greatest sub conscious and conscious fear to be left alone with no one to help.



Your insomnia is familial and familiar all at once – your late mother took the same pills you do and yet you know she lay awake for hours or woke up early.  Your sibling has found a pill that works for her and that changed her life because when it doesn’t work it is a bit like breaking down.

Don’t focus on it, some say.  It won’t kill you, they tell you.

Oooh, not sleeping is bad;  that will affect your heart eventually they want you to know.

Near terror is what you feel.

Getting out into the pouring raining world will help some – surely cuddling that baby will go a short way to releasing the hounds.

All  you want to do is sleep and it is the one thing you cannot do except in bits and pieces with nightmares of no one helping.

What insomnia does give you is piles of nervous energy – more than you could ever know what to do with in this lifetime.  You could pace the floor at your 50 minute hour but you just saw her and your insomnia didn’t seem as intense that day so you didn’t focus on it.  She wouldn’t have given you direct advice anyway – instead you would talk your nervous energy out while she asked you how that made you feel.  She has revealed that she herself has the beast – you can imagine so with two little kids and a history of all nighters training to be your 50 minute hour.  The two of you do seem to agree on hating people who brag about being able to fall asleep anywhere.  Yeah, well, fuck you and the sleep you rode in on.

You try and put your focus elsewhere – surely riding the bus with strangers and cuddling a baby and later tutoring a 15 year old you enjoy will go to some length on that. It does, it will, it has.  But mostly while you are existing there the sand will continue to shift and the surreal feelings will continue and you won’t be able to eat the sandwich you ordered with the bacon you like oh my god it is so good.  And your brain will continue to ride the nervous energy train.

Tonight will eventually come and you will lay yourself down and beg your brain not to just fade into light sleep and then wake up always wake wake up wake up in the middle of the night – who knows maybe 3, maybe 4 – and then there is no more sleep to be had or none that won’t result in absolute nightmares of being left alone to fend for yourself in an impossible situation.

What parts of the brain light up during all of this.  Why can’t you just go to sleep and sleep well.  Two hundred nights of well sleep would go a long way you think.

You remember more than 10 years back how you desperately sobbed to a walk in doctor who prescribed the first blue pill.  No, no meds for me you said;  I won’t be in control.  But then you took it and you slept well and long and you realized that what you had avoided for so long would save you.

But now, now nothing works with consistency and you know about building up tolerance and how terrible it all is to be dependent and how you would let someone hit you over the head with a hammer, a mallet, hell, a television, if only it offered you a chance to sleep over this latest bout of it all.  You could start fresh.

How low can you go.














Insomnia and Shrove Tuesday pancakes

Today is Shrove Tuesday, something celebrated by various Christian denominations, including the United Church.  Not evangelical churches though it seems – my formerly evangelical friend had never heard of it.  Fair enough, I hadn’t either when I was with that particular tribe of folks, singing the songs and raising my hands.

Anyway, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent.  I just read that its origins are over 1,000 years old.  It was a day to use up fats and sugars before the 40 days of Lent.  This is apparently why people have pancake suppers.  The church I work at is having one but I am not going because:  a.) I don’t want to b.) pancakes for supper, I can’t do it.  I mean I could but really I have to save eating sweet things till just before bed when I can get the maximum insomnia from them.

However, I may check out Centering Prayer at said church tonight.  They do spell it the American way which seems wrong somehow but I must accept.  SInce I loved Healing Touch so much (and am having another session on Monday afternoon), I thought Centering Prayer was a good bet.  It’s run by the same folks who run HT, some great women.

“You know,” I said to one of them who popped into the church office today , “Some evangelicals think Healing Touch is cultish.”

“Oh,” she said.

I read up on the reasons behind that cultish thinking and I can see why evangelicals might think that.  When I was in the tribe I probably would have thought so too but may have gone to HT anyway kinda on the sly.  “Where are you going, Karen,” people would ask.

“Nowhere,” I would respond, “And certainly not to Healing Touch.”

“Good because that is cultish.”


That is how that conversation might have gone.

I am enjoying learning about the thousand year old traditions/rituals of the church.

How’s the church worker job, asks my wee fan base.

Well, well, I don’t know.  I still haven’t found out about passing my probation, which is up at the end of the month.  Everything is very vague, vague, vague, vague.  I do know that I’m quite busy now with this and that at the job, which is good in a way.  But I find it all stressful (of course!) because I’m kinda terrified of doing a not great job.  Weird.  And again, the alone factor is just vaguely mind blowing to me.  It’s kinda wretched.  Also I never really know what will be asked of me – that is part of being a church administrator person though –  but I’m not big on surprises like that.  The inefficiency of the probation is annoying though but I don’t want to make waves on that one;  I will just wait it out.  I mean I also – I don’t know if my anxiety would be reduced by going back to work (and looking for work first) at an ESL school again.  Or if my anxiety is just part of how it is, wherever I am.  I mean I’d greatly enjoy the interaction with other people (ESL teaching has a whole lot of that – with other teachers, with the students).  I would never take that for granted again that’s for sure.  And I’d feel on steadier feet doing something I know that I can do – and yet – I don’t know; I’m not sure such jobs are too easy to9 come by anymore.  So what I’m really doing I have to say is just waiting it all out.  I do this a lot it seems.  Worst comes to worst I’m back out there on the looking for ESL work thing.  And as summer is coming, something would eventually come up.  But it would be back to that rollercoaster again as well.

I really had no idea just how much is expected of a church secretary (er, I prefer administrator) by everyone and their dog.  Some folks are really nice though, don’t get me wrong.  I’m kinda starting to understand why the previous admin person, who was there for 15! years, left with some bitterness.  And the minister she was working with (the new one started when I did) was there every weekday with her, while mine works from home on Wednesdays and isn’t in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, though he can stalk me on google chat.  “It’s like you’re his executive assistant,” noted the children’s minister today.  “Exactly,:” I said.  I’m realizing that he misses the executive assistant that he had at his former church.  I suspect she is a calm cookie with great, well, administrative skills.  They are twitter friends for goodness sakes.

Oh, insomnia.  It is still rearing it’s really really ugly head.  I sleep very lightly, then wake up about 2 or 3 am and don’t go back to sleep in any really deep way.  Ugh.  UGH.    And finally,  ugh.  Not much more to say about that other than it messes up everything on earth ever. I’d be happy to be rid of it.

In other excitement the walk-in doctor couldn’t find the tiny sliver of glass in my foot.  She told me I could go to the ER but that seems like a dramatic use of 10 hours of time.  I mean I could call an ambulance but that seems odd.  I shall merely hobble around is what I’ll do.

What else?  Well, tomorrow after the first job I have an appointment and then time to kill at the library instead of busing it all the way home and then teaching.  Thursday another afternoon appointment and Friday evening I am volunteering at the Rogue Folk Club so I can see these guys for free:  I hadn’t heard of them but it sounds great.  And on March 22nd: – that one I am really looking forward to.

I should go swimming now; it helps the ramped up insomnia feeling.  But alas, I am too tired to.  Perhaps Centering Prayer tonight.

and again, back.

And forward perhaps.

I’m at my second all day Sunday writers’ workshop.  Basically what happens is I pay $14 and walk for half an hour to Pine and W. 3rd to a I think graphic design studio.  There are about 5 long wooden tables with plug-ins for computers and there is also free Wifi.  There’s also a couch for those who prefer that.  There are about 12 of us here, all with our laptops.  I don’t know these people and they don’t know me.  Some other seems to know each other this time and were chatty chatty until 10:00 am when the chatty chatty had to stop and we began to write.

I really enjoyed this last time and was able to write for about four and a half hours – I got a lot done. Being around others who were writing made it easier than writing alone at home. I entered CBC’s Creative Non-Fiction contest and didn’t realize until just last week that I had counted my header as words and am thus 6 words short and they are unrelenting in demanding it have a certain word count.  Oops, there goes that $25.  Uh well.  Hopefully they will still read it.

So, we write until 12:30 pm and then have a lunch break.

Oy, insomnia has been plaguing me again and last night was really bad – barely slept at all and when I did it was only to have really awful (and long, intense and detailed) nightmares.  I feel sick today from it but still wanted to see if I could write today.  Such insomnia increases my anxiety a zillion fold and that makes existing consciously extremely unpleasant.  But sitting around at home would have made it worse I think.  Anyway, I’ll see how I do.  It’s interesting because for about a month or so after mom died I had no trouble sleeping whatsoever but then it came back.  Might be medication changes, might be a myriad of things.  Those of my wee fan base who know for insomnia, know for the difficulties of it.


I’m still at the church job, although my probation isn’t up until the end of the month.  There’s been talk of ‘we’re not sure’ and ‘the minister isn’t sure’ in regards to aspects of my administrative work.  It is all very vague and very non-profit and church type inefficient and concerning.  This has added to my anxiety that’s for sure.  It’s not like I make a lot of money at this job- nope, not even enough to pay the basics, especially February which had two very short pay periods.  And it’s not like I’m in love with working alone in the office most of the time except when the minister is in and I’m responding in an ill-equipped way to what he needs.  I just think I want a job that lasts for awhile and that I can add some ESL teaching on to when I can.  If the job ends it isn’t the end of the world because ESL work naturally picks up in the summer and I have a few schools I am on sub lists for that I can reinvigorate.  I’ve been on one sub list for over a year and have never even had the chance to sub there yet!  But it’s more I guess the getting out there again and starting fresh.  Although I have to say that being around people in an ESL teaching job would be a great thing. I’m enjoying teaching my evening class at Langara College once a week – but that is over in three weeks and won’t pick up again, if there are enough students, until the end of May. 

So I’m in wait-and-see mode.  I’m not rocking the boat right now and asking what is up with my church job – no one seems to know what the minister is thinking.  He gets stressed a lot – partly because he is only in the office two weekdays so has lots of meetings and such when he is in. 

And bulletin Friday!  And I I messed up the bulletin and wasted tons of bulletin cover paper yet again.  Eeek.

So who knows what is best.  As my friend C. says, if I could get my anxiety under control (and, well, my sleep) I’d be much better able to handle these situations as well as my grief over my mom’s death.  But, it is what it is.  And isn’t what it isn’t or something like that.  But hard no matter how you cut it.

On a separate note, the Glenda and I wanted a bit of a field trip yesterday.  Let’s go out to the new-ish Surrey Central Library, said I.  Darned if she didn’t pick me up and we drove to Nanaimo skytrain station and then took the half hour skytrain ride (er, far) to the new library out there.  Well, well.  Well and well.  It is 77,000 square feet of library.  Four floors and designed in such a way that half ot he floor is seating and half is books.  It’s huge huge huge and new and great.  I got my VPL card all synced up to it, got a Surrey Library book bag and a couple of magazines and books.  I will definitely be going back.  A long trip for sure but I have the time (and no money but that’s not so much needed at a library, thank goodness.)

Across from the library is a shopping complex, the top of which is SFU’s Surrey campus which also looks interestingly designed.  Eeek, there is a Target at the mall.  Target in Canada is not nearly as good as Target in the U.S. of A but and however I got a few tops at a decent price.

Then the Glenda and I went grocery shopping because she knows I have no car.  Then she dropped me off so she could go to the opera with her husband and I went home to have insomnia is how that worked out.

On Friday, I hung out with the church I work at’s pastoral care minister, L.  She has reached out since my mom died, even though I don’t attend said church.  We went and sat on the beach near my place, even though it was too cold to sit on the beach near my place.  She’s quite good at getting me to slow down and think in different and healthier ways.  I’m ever appreciative.  She had to set up boundaries though that she couldn’t discuss my work issues which is fair enough as that would put her in an extremely awkward position. I have to be more careful, careful-er. 

And the offer of Healing Touch – best described as Reiki for liberal Christians – was lovely as well the other day.  S. from the church had been gently asking me when I ‘d like a private session with her and J. – two of the more experienced women in the practice.  I had it done last Tuesday after my workday was done at 1 pm.  I was skeptical and nervous but I really, really, really felt calmer afterward and for an entire evening.  I will go again to their public offerings which are on the fourth Monday evening of the month.  I will also look for other churches that do it.  There is something to it.  My evangelical past sometimes gets in there and says ‘uh oh’ but then my reality takes over and I realize that I will go with whatever helps me – and I believe it is practices beyond words that work best.  My fabulous hospice counsellor, N, who I can see only twice more per funding, is going to try some guided music imagery with classical music I think on Thursday as that is her training and she thinks it might help. I’m all for that too.  I really wasn’t so much before my mom died but then she did and I experienced grief which is, as those who know know, beyond words, deeper then.

And finally, I drop things all the time it seems.  After dropping my external keyboard and computer last night, the ‘A’ smashed off the external keyboard completely, not a trace of it left to push on.  Hmmm.  And my laptop keyboard hasn’t worked in awhile.  And so now I have a fresh and new external keyboard.  It’s still louder though than the silent typing of the lap toppers around me.



For the hordes

Of people that are sure to flock to my blog like like like crows to a rat’s carcass (I lived at that building at Nanaimo and Dundas for a year, I know for what I speak) from my online Courier article:

For all of you, I would like to say hello.

I hustled down with a copy of the article to my head teacher boss this afternoon.  She’s super super busy because it is the first week of a fast four week session, new students, new teachers, etc and the like.

“Here’s my article I told you about!” I say, vaguely waving it around her.

She was good about it.

Twas the first day for new students so they (we) had a welcome lunch.  This meant I did not get a lunch break but it also meant a free sandwich, wrap and those great Costco like cookies.  My co-worker noted that she had tried to get some at the end but they were all gone.

“Oh,” I said, thinking of the two I had thrown into my bag.  “They did go fast,” I said.

My brain is operating at about half speed so this will be a short post tonight.

The new hordes may wonder why I seem to be working if I have written a job search piece.  A great question.  Excellent, yes.  Well,, I’m sadly only temporarily teaching at the awesome wonderfulness that is UBC’s English Language Institute.  And I speak more than just of the free cookies!   Cookies that are big!  And sweet!

If my readership goes beyond 1,000 tonight, there will be a special draw.  Wait for it. 

Exhausted, eyes bleary.  Going to bathe, watch Mary Tyler Moore, go to bed early to get the insomnia going.

Please don’t mind the typos.

Oh and and and within an hour or so I think of my article being posted, someone called me (they got my cell # how?  I thought those weren’t listed) to try to get me interested in a mysterious scheme that would onlly be explained by e-mailing me a video.  I declined.  Does the person think I have money to become part of a pyramid scheme or some such? Hey, if  had money I’d buy a better brand of ketchup.


My computer is acting all virusy.  Feverishy even.  Let’s hope not.

Well, hours after I ate many pancakes and waffles that the students helped to make, I’m still full!  As it is a Culture and Language short term class, they jam a bunch of stuff in.  This morning was going over to a nearby teacher’s house and making and eating pancakes et al.  Other than adding too much salt to one of the batches, it was tasty, especially the chocolate chip pancakes.  I was full, sat by the fire and felt relaxed.  And got paid for it!  Glory be. Goodness knows I’ve paid my dues type thing.  Twas a fine time had by all. One Korean young man took at least 8,000 photos, that camera never left his face.  I may not have to eat until tomorrow so full am I.  My lovely student from Kazakhstan, who speaks Kazakh and Portuguese (lived in Angola for awhile) asked me today, via his translator to get the right word, what my salary is.  “Interesting,” I said.  he thinks I should move to Kazakhstan.  “Are apartments well heated there?” I asked.   Apparently it gets cold like Winnipeg there.  He is a principal in a huge school in Kazakhstan.  “Borat?” I said.  “Oh, Borat!” he said.  He is absolutely lovely.  The young Turkish student, Ata Can (pronounced basically Atajan) generally looks bored.  But he discovered  backgammon game at the brunch house.  Did I know how to play, he asked.  Did I know how to play?!  I love the game.  Well, uh, he is very very fast and very very good and didn’t really want to wait as I counted things out and kept trying to get me to change my moves to better ones.  “I want to lose honestly,” I said.  I asked him to slow down but alas, not.   He is often on his phone too.  Oh, how I pine for the days of old where students had to search out pay phones. 

I did a very bad thing for an insomniac – I took a nap. I don’t feel better from it either so aaargh.  I think I was having tense dreams about cabbage.  Weird.  Aaargh, now I’ll sleep even worse tonight.  Silly, silly me.  I could get a car co-op car and go to the pool but it is cold and blustery out!  Mnd you it is cold in here but out there, brrrr.  Hmmm.  If you don’t suffer from insomnia, I tip my hat to you.  Tip, tip.

Seems more and more likely that my little job search column will appear in Friday’s Courier but I will keep you posted.  If so, my blog stats could go into the millions!  I could hold fundraisers and fan meetings.  I could be asked to appear on the View and The Talk and Live with Kelly.  I could do a cameo on the Young and the Restless!  Stephen Harper might call me for advice or Obama!  The London Guardian might offer me a full time permanent position along with a lovely (and well heated) flat in London!  I could buy a swimming pool!  Mitt Mormon Romney might ask me to join his campaign team!  The Sister Wives might ask to meet me!  I’m telling you, this could be big.

My latest edition of the New Yorker  is like 4 days late.  I need my New Yorker!



A short one today

But daily!!!!!  Daily darn it!

I was in on a short phone announcement and then short one-on-one interview with assistant deputy minister Allison Bond to discuss ‘stuff” for my freelancing article.  So that was kinda fun and governmenty.  And rah rah and blah blah.  My article is almost done and ready to be ripped to shreds in editing!  Yee haw.

So on to another piece maybe!  I’ll need to think of something.  Hopefully, once my piece is published in March, I’ll get a few more people interested.  It’s still not a living but . . .

On Thursday I’m going to see the career planning course folk at Transitions downtown and imagine I will start the three week course on January 9th.  Basically, I need a little rah rah.  A little, “Norm!” Well, if you’ve never seen the TV show Cheers than you won’t know what I’m talking about.  I just need to go somewhere where everyone knows my name!

Oy, the insomnia.  Every single night I wake up between 3 and 4 am and never really fall back to sleep.  Yikes.  In the morning it’s not too bad but as the day goes by I just start to feel rather sick.  Eeek.  etc.  Part of the reason my brain is not so creative right now, I think.

Time to wrap up a book for my writers’ group Xmas party tonight.  We have been told to dress it all up a bit, so I need to look and find a skirt.  I have lots but I’ve been living in jeans for the last three months.  I don’t so much  mind dressing up sometimes.

Twas another sunny day which was great great and great.