There is nothing deeply intellectual about this Post. I’m not blowing minds with my thoughtful insights. There’s no amazing analysis on a critical issue related to cancer or life in general. This is just me venting about my lack of sleep. The phrase, “Insomnia is a bitch” is NO JOKE!
My Relationship With Insomnia: Basically, We Need To Breakup!
Thus, this Post details my tortuous relationship with insomnia, which has gone on my entire life. This is why we need to seriously breakup, like forever! I simply wish I could sing out in the words of my girl, T. Swift, “We are never ever ever getting back together.” Unfortunately, I’ve tried EVERYTHING under the sun to get rid of this “B”. Yet, insomnia never leaves!
“Insomnia, you’re free to leave your side of the story in the Comments Section.“
P.S. I’ve included some interesting ‘lil tidbits about my youth here too. It’s all insomnia’s fault!
Sleep? What’s That Like?
I’ve written in past Posts how I’ve suffered my entire life from insomnia. For example: https://braincancerbabe.com/2016/05/21/post-op-and-the-dreaded-neuro-observation-area/ or https://braincancerbabe.com/2016/04/16/so-what-next/
As A Young Kid:
To sum it up, even as a kid I could never sleep. I was the one trying to keep everyone else awake at slumber parties in grammar school. I was always getting yelled at by the parents hosting these parties because not only did I keep the other girls awake – I kept the parents awake too! Yet, I just could not fall asleep.
My mother had to basically drag me out of bed to get ready for school in the mornings. Yet, she did it with “a cuppa good oul” Barry’s Irish Tea because “I was completely knackered” from not sleeping. (Just a bitta’ Irish slang there for ye, folks). My breakfast consisted of slices of toast with butter and Irish Marmalade. The tea, still steaming, and toast were brought to my bedside every morning. If my mother was anything, she was consistent.
She only deviated from this breakfast on Sundays when we’d have a good “fry”, or commonly known as an Irish breakfast. Unless you’re plowing fields or trying to haul in cattle, I don’t know how anyone survives eating a full Irish breakfast every single day. I’d be 200 lbs.
Back in 80’s and 90’s, we couldn’t easily find Irish products in the States. So, family members would try to bring over Irish sausages, “rashers” (Irish bacon) and things like Kerrygold Butter and cheeses in suitcases.
I remember flying back from Dublin with my mother to JFK Airport scared to death the customs agents would find our contraband of Irish food! Of course, my mother put the fear of God in me not to say a word about: 1.) Having been back to the family farm, or any farm for that matter, and 2.) That half a suitcase was full of food, including a homemade Christmas pudding from one of my Aunts, which is basically plum pudding doused in liquor. That pudding alone weighed at least 5 lbs.
Back to my point:
My parents never enforced a strict bedtime. I watched SNL and late-night TV with them. I always stayed up much later than other kids I knew. My parents took me out to dinners with their friends, in which I’d be the lone child. Thus, these dinners went much later than most children’s bedtimes. People always say, “You’re an old soul.” I laugh and reply, “Maybe, or my parents’ just kept me up too late and forced me to interact with more adults than children.” I was only just a “wee one” and already an insomniac!
At the age of four, I stole my Dad’s Heineken and chugged it while he wasn’t watching. Apparently, I slept a full 24-hours! It was probably the only time as a child I was actually a great sleeper. Come to think of it, that was probably the best sleep I ever had in my life.
As A Teenager:
Once I got to high school, the bus picked me up at around 6:00 a.m. I still have absolutely NO idea how my mother got me up, but Dear Lord, Thank You for Barry’s Irish Tea!
I took the bus to an all-girls, private school about 25 miles away. We shared the bus route with an all-boys school. Therefore, once the bus picked-up everyone ,we’d drop the boys off first (their school was closer) and then finally get to our school just in time for the 8:05 a.m. home room bell. That 2-hour bus ride was an opportunity to finally sleep because my insomnia had kept me up most nights. Hence, I’d be dead asleep when the bus pulled-up to our school.
I constantly got into trouble for being late to home room. Thanks, Insomnia!
You have to understand: it wasn’t just a matter of simply getting off the bus and rushing to home room for us.
We’d first have to put our bookbags, coats and in the cold months any pj or sweatpants we’d wear under our skirts away in our lockers.
Then, we’d have to ensure we had the books, binders, notepads, etc. for our first classes.
Finally, we had to ensure we were compliant with the strict dresscode, i.e. proper shoes, shirts tucked into our skirts, our skirts just short enough to get away with (yeah, we were all girls, but you did not want to be the girl who wore her skirt to her knees) and sweaters on unless it was sweltering! No A.C. in our classrooms, so they’d kindly let the sweater requirement pass once it got to be about 80 F. Ugh. Catholic school!
Due to my lack of sleep/insomnia, I was NOT pleasant to deal with in the mornings. That continues to this day. Except now, I’ve replaced my Barry’s Irish Tea for coffee. Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my morning coffee.
It’s All Insomnia’s Fault!
Back in high school, I recall two instances in which I actually got in trouble because I was still “getting myself together” when the home room belll rang. Again, “Thanks, Insomnia!”
One incident happened actually at my locker. I was attempting to switch from snow boots to our regulation shoes, take off my sweatpants, put my coat in my locker and get my books together. I mean, this -ish- was a process! Yet, because I wasn’t standing at my desk at 8:05, well I got a good “talking to”. 🙄
Another occurred while I was indeed at my desk for the bell. However, at 8:05 as I was in the midst of attempting to tuck-in my shirt, my professor questioned why I was not “in uniform”. This is not a joke!
I was not very polite in attempting to explain I was not “uniform compliant” because our bus had just arrived before the bell rang. Therefore, I was in the process of getting my uniform on properly. Okay. I didn’t rationally speak in a calm tone, merely explaining this. I mean, I was tucking in my f—-ing shirt, Lady!
Nope. In fact, I rolled my eyes, slammed my hand down on the desk and loudly said, “Oh come on!”
My beady-eyed little teacher tried glaring at me, but you only saw her eyes when she put on the bottlenose glasses that hung around her neck from a chain. She was constantly convinced she’d lost her glasses too. We’d be starting class and she’d be muttering to herself, “Now, where are my glasses? This is also not a joke!. “Um, try looking around your neck, idiot!” We were not friends.
Anyway, she instructed me to report to the principal’s office immediately that I was not in uniform by the bell. Thankfully, the principal had bigger and better things to deal with and sent me back to homeroom.
My “Attitude Problem”
THIS LITTLE SECTION DOESN’T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY INSOMNIA UNLESS I CAN BLAME INSOMNIA FOR MY MISERABLE ATTITUDE.🧐
I really was a bratty, mouthy teenager, who thought I knew everything. Combined with my severe disdain for authority, I have absolutely NO idea how I remained enrolled in my elitist high school. I’m convinced my mother paid them off. Hence, very much like insomnia, you could call me quite a b—- in those days.
However, I was an Honor Roll student, in all advanced classes and got a huge scholarship to college. So, “on paper” – I looked like a wonderful student. Therefore, I made their statistics look good.
Another lil tidbit from my youth: I always loved art and there was ONLY one art teacher. A nun, of course. So, I had no choice but to take her classes, or else be stuck with some awful class like “Religion and Sexuality”. Ha! No, that was actually a required course, taught by a nun.
I’ll let ya sit with that for a minute.
Back to my “bad attitude”, one day in art class the nun pulled me aside probably in my Sophomore or Junior year. By then I had taken a few classes with her. We did not “mesh”. Whatever I said really set her off this particular day though. She threatened to have me expelled if I spoke one more negative word about the school, its rules, etc., etc. Basically, I was a loudmouth with an attitude.
Me being me – I didn’t take kindly to this. Essentially I told her to “piss off” pointing out that she ran her classes contrary to the “norm” in our school. Thus, I would be telling the higher-ups just as much about her teaching methods as she threatened to tell them about my behavior.
She should’ve expected that reaction from me, although I don’t think she was prepared for it. Thus, I continued taking her art classes and it was never spoken of again.
IS IT SURPRISING I BECAME AN ATTORNEY?
Procrastination & Insomnia
I could probably write an entire novel simply on how obnoxious I was in high school. However, that’s not the point here.
My horrid habit for procrastinating really took hold in high school, which persists to this day. It was directly related to my insomnia. I recently shared a great article on “Self-Sabotoge” from another Blogger I really enjoy: https://unwantedlife.me/sabotage
The Author of the “Unwanted Life” Blog proclaims to be the “King of Procrastination”. Well, folks, I am the Queen as I shared in my Blog discussing this topic. You can read that here: https://braincancerbabe.com/2020/07/12/sharing-another-writers-piece-on-self-sabotage/
As the Author of the “Unwanted Life” Blog states:
Struggling with motivation, poor time management, and doubting your skills or abilities are all classic ways to get you procrastinating. How many of you left doing your school/college/university course work or work projects to the last minute? It may feel like there’s no rhyme or reason to why you’re procrastinating, but 9 times out of 10, there’s actually an underlying reason.https://unwantedlife.me/sabotage
O. M. G. I left just about every single solitary paper I wrote until the last minute. Once my Dad stopped ensuring I was doing all of my homework after grammar school, I was writing or typing my papers on a TYPEWRITER (Jesus, I’m old) at all hours of the night/morning. It wasn’t about doubting my skills, but it was 100% lack of motivation. Since, I knew I’d be awake due to my insomnia I left everything until the last minute. In fact, my final safety school” (in other words, my last choice) for college applications was the college I indeed attended. I submitted my application literally the day it was due! If I had only been one day late, I would’ve gone to my Number One: NYU. (Le sigh)
Anyway, there was a surmountable increase in my procrastination when we began regularly using computers. Yes, I was a Sophomore in high school when AOL Chat/IM began. All of a sudden, you could magically “chat” with someone in another state or country all through this little IM window! This was truly THE coolest thing! (Dear Lord, I truly am old). So now, I didn’t need to use my Dad’s electronic typewriter.
I could simply sit up all night and attempt to write a paper on Homer’s “The Odyssey” ever-so-slyly on my very own computer. At the same time, I could be doing some new thing called a being in a “chat room” on AOL. (Insomnia is a B—-, but damn so is getting old!). Nevertheless, I graduated with a very high GPA graduating With Honors.
Isomnia was my poison, but I thrived on it!
My Freshman year of college, we were one of the first, if not the first classes to receive a laptop from the University. The world was getting very high-tech in 1998! (Yep, I’m that old). Yet, this made my procrastination even worse! Now I had a portable computer to bust out an essay wherever I could get Internet access. Whaaa???
College was frankly not very challenging. Besides some professors in my Political Science Department and my Honor’s Program, there were very few classes and professors I found intellectually stimulating. I blew through college with almost a perfect 4.0 GPA, Dean’s List every single time, a Merit Scholar, and a member of the National Honor’s Society. Technically, my diploma states I graduated Magna Cum Laude although I actually graduated Summa Cum Laude. My Senior Thesis Advisor submitted the A+ for my 100-page thesis late, thus after the deadline for printing diplomas. The irony is not lost on me as I discuss procrastination.
Since I skated through most college classes, what could an insomniac like me possibly do to keep busy? I’ll leave it mostly to your imagination, but I will say:
- I lived about 25 minutes at most from Manhattan
- Even though Giuliani was Mayor, and “cracked down” on bars serving underaged drinkers, I had my go-to spots
- Too often, I was coming home to my dorm from some bar or club as kids were either waking-up or sometimes, heading to class
Then, I got a fantastic idea from a new movie, Coyote Ugly. I would take bartending lessons in the City! I was already in bars and clubs, perhaps dancing on a bar or two, awake until the wee hours of the morning anyway. Plus, the chicks in that movie were making bank!!! So, why not use my insomnia to my advantage?
Just Go Work At A Bar!
With respect for the service industry, working behind a bar is NOT just dancing on the bar and pouring shots. It’s a tough-ass job.
So, Yes, I have a Certificate from bartending school. Did I ever actually work behind a bar? No. Have I pulled a pint or two behind a bar? Yes. Have I ever danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly in NYC? Umm, see below.
Then, Law School Happened
Circling back to the Post from “Unwanted Life”:
I am king at procrastinating, which is made worse by the fact that I have a lot more time than most to do the tasks that I could be doing. I’ll often put off one task to do another task I’ve been putting off, which is less important to do…The weirdest thing for me about my procrastinating habit is that I know I’m procrastinating to avoid doing something at the time, and often before I start procrastinating. But knowing that doesn’t stop me actually procrastinating.https://unwantedlife.me/sabotage (Emphasis Added)n
I could not have said it better myself. I’ve gotten pretty far in life despite being a serial-procrastinator. I recognize I’d leave things until the last minute. Yet, it never stopped me. Whatever it was, it always got done. Then, law school happened…
I realized I couldn’t just cram for a law school exam in one single day. However, I learned that the hard way! School and top grades had always come easily, and I took every advantage of my perpetual insomnia and serial-procrastination to achieve that.
Law school was so very, very different! People studied for an exam for weeks! I had never done that in my life! I’d simply stay up as late as possible, bang out a paper or cram for an exam, and achieve high grades. Law school. Oh No. This was a whole other ballgame.
I knew one person who actually slept at school in a Law Review Editor’s office during finals! The office was assigned to that person, but still. This all blew my mind. I knew I was just as smart as the people Acing their exams, although there were some extremely bright students in my classes who definitely surpassed my intellect.
However, most of my classmates were simply more disciplined than me when it came to time management. I’m sure a lot of us suffered with insomnia, but I never adjusted to that “Let’s sit down and study for 12 hours a day” mentality.
The Dreaded Bar Exam
I made it through law school with decent grades. I graduated in May 2005. However, you don’t get much time to celebrate because you have to start preparing to take the Bar Exam in August. Now, my insomnia was truly starting to scare me because the Bar is one thing you do not cram for and you seriously need to prepare for it, if you have any hope to pass. I also studied for two States, New York and New Jersey, simultaneously. The summer of 2005 sucked! Little did I know what lay ahead…Oh, just brain cancer, 7 seven surgeries at this point, epilepsy and all the other fun things that came around in 2014 to present day.
As for that “B”, my insomnia, I knew that we had to breakup somehow, someway if wanted any chance at passing the Bar. My doctor prescribed Ambien. It was a good start! Then, she referred me for a sleep test. Totally useless.
WELL, I PASSED BOTH BAR EXAMS AND BECAME A REAL “B” BECAUSE NOW, I WAS A LAWYER!
Like so many relationships, Insomnia and I have broken-up, got back together, only to breakup again and again. At this stage though, we need to seriously breakup, like forever! It’s time.
I need some sleep!!