It’s 11.00pm; I’ve been asleep maybe an hour when the cold fingers of consciousness curl themselves around my sleep deprived brain, infusing it with a sense, the smallest hint that I need to wake. As I rouse I dimly hear Molly calling “Mum” from the next room. My stomach contracts, a now familiar feeling. I slowly raise myself out of the warm bed into the cold of the night and shroud myself in my warm dressing gown, mentally preparing for another long night.
Molly is going through a serious bout of insomnia. The routine for these nights can vary; either we recognise fairly early that sleep is not going to come and I will stay with her or; in her selfless attempt to let me get some sleep she will try to drop off herself eventually failing, getting herself upset and as she has tonight, waking me by calling out or with her crying.
It is heart-wrenchingly difficult, some mornings she is in such distress, having only being asleep for a few hours, she is incapable of pulling herself together to go to school. Fortunately we have usually managed to gently encourage her through her morning routine and onto the bus. She has not missed many days however her lateness may soon become a problem.
At the moment Molly is barely managing and as it is the end of term I worry about the quality of her school work. I am also concerned that while she is so sleep-deprived that she may spiral into depression or possibly have an accident due to inattention. I have quickly realised that the only way forward is to be quietly and gently supportive consistently putting one foot in front of the other until we hopefully move through this nightmare and out the other side.
Our doctor has diagnosed Molly with mild to moderate anxiety and recommended a child psychologist who has had spectacular results helping kids with exactly the same struggles. This is not just some bad sleeping pattern, Molly has been building up to this and it is now at a point where we need to dig down and find the underlying cause of the insomnia so that we may present her with some strategies to help her cope.
As a family it is a challenging time. I don’t think I was ever this tired even when breastfeeding through the night. I find it difficult to function properly and although I have made sure I am the one to get up to Molly, Pete’s sleep can’t help but be disturbed. It is hard not to let exhaustion generated anger and frustration spill out into our family relationships although I think we are doing as well as we can under the circumstances.
There is a lighter, humorous side to the situation. The things you do when sleep deprived can be hilarious in the retelling. I am constantly getting in the shower with my glasses on or stomping around the house looking for them while wearing them. I work hard not to close my eyes at the traffic lights; the warning horns from the cars behind are a harsh way to wake from a glorious nap. I have put water in the pod part of the coffee machine and the pod in the water part. Sitting the fly spray next to the hairspray is not a good idea for sleep addled brains similarly the soap next to the shampoo. The list goes on.
I know we are not alone in this with Molly. As kids enter their teenage years the pressures are many and navigating them can be a minefield. Especially if there has been a previous trauma. Thankfully there is a lot of good support available. We have a very good doctor who has put us onto a group who specialise in helping kids in the same situation and have been very successful at it. We are in the lucky situation of being able to get Molly the help she needs. It saddens me that there are many kids who are not so lucky and battle on without the support they need.
Have you had similar issues at home? Perhaps we can get a discussion going, let me know your thoughts.