It was last night when my husband said “is something wrong with you” that I realised the fog had lifted.
You see I have been asleep for two and a half years and then last week a small miracle occurred for me. My toddler slept through the night. And I finally woke up.
If you have been coping with sleep deprivation for a long time then you will understand what I mean.
I reminded my husband that I was the person that he married a few years ago. Remember me? I am back.
However my beautiful little boy really did take me to staggering new heights of fatigue.
I guess he learnt from the very best.
It goes in cycles, as you probably know.
First you cope. Your eyes burn, you feel sick, you cannot think straight but you can cope. You bat away thoughts of being tired with ‘just harden up sister’.
Then everything starts to become very hard. Each small task seems like a marathon and then you admit to yourself that you are starting to struggle. The cloud of fatigue gets darker around you. This phase can last a long time.
Finally, you have a spectacular crash and burn. All you can think about is going to sleep. You have multiple bad moments, like leaving your car door wide open with your handbag inside when you go to the shops or having entire conversations with colleagues and calling them the wrong name… or worse. I won’t go there.
Just when you are ready to absolutely lose your bundle, you get a few hours of sleep in a row again and recover. You are back to coping. It is a cycle. Coffee helps.
For me, it worked to convince myself that sleep was not important to me. I could get it or not get it. Whatever. I knew I needed it, but I had to not care.
It is a first world problem, but long-term sleep deprivation can be a serious one for many people.
I see now that over a long period of time it can impact your life, your personality, and your general ability to function. It is not a healthy life choice.
Now that I am awake, everything is more beautiful. I think clearly and quickly again. I can’t wait for the day to start. I have energy and want to exercise and dance and laugh.
I should have asked more people for help. They were there and offering to help me all the time but I didn’t want to bother them. I wanted to cope with it by myself.
That was a bad decision. Long-term sleep deprivation impacts judgement too. It should not be under-estimated.
Because I convinced myself sleep was not important to me anymore, I also believed that I would never get it ever again.
But I was wrong, and I hope that if you think that then you are wrong too. It can come back. And it is a wonderful thing.
If you are in the state of fog now and feel like it is never going to lift then I hope to give you some hope that it can happen.
Sleep has returned to my life and I love it so much.
Fiona is a former Press Secretary to the Prime Minister and is currently a media consultant and Mum in Brisbane. You can follow her on Twitter @FiSugden
Have you experienced sleep deprivation? How did you cope?