I've been sleep-deprived for as long as I can remember. In fact, I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb asking for a nap. Then, because I apparently didn't know what tired really was, I had kids. Parenting is a whole other level of sleep deprivation, and while I've learned shortcuts to survive, when I'm this tired I start to wonder if something deeper is going on. Like, I must be dying, right? So it wasn't too difficult for the internet to convince me I had a slew of problems but, really, I was just sleep deprived.
I mean, have you ever Googled the basic symptoms associated with sleep deprivation? I wouldn't recommend it. The internet is a strange and glorious place, but not if you're prone to believing every result that pops up (I'll give you two guesses as to what I'm "prone" to do, but you're only going to need one). A few years back, for example, I struggled with a pretty severe bout of depression and anxiety. One of the symptoms was insomnia. Not only did I worry and cry my days away, I didn't sleep on top of it.
I've searched and searched for answers, hoping to come to some sort of solid conclusion, but honestly, all I'm ever left with is paranoia. I knew I was in need of actual sleep and, yet, I let the damn interwebs tell me I had all sorts of other things wrong. Here's some of those (that weren't correct, BTW). I now know I was just sleep-deprived. Like, really, really sleep-deprived.
Some pregnancy symptoms are remarkably close to sleep deprivation. I was nauseated (from being up so long), bloating (from making bad food choices when tired), and cranky because — hello! — I was exhausted. Turns out I wasn't actually pregnant and, instead, in need of a serious nap.
Scouring those "doctor" sites where you fill in symptoms is a playground for my insomnia and paranoia. Could I have cancer? Or maybe an obstructed bowel? No — it's probably an ear infection, even though my ear feels fine. There's no drainage, but now that I've searched, I might feel a slight discomfort if I tug on it?
Actually, for a long time my doctors checked my thyroid because all the women in my family have issues with theirs. I'll have to continually get it checked and when it comes time, be on medication for it (it will happen eventually, as I've been on the cusp for so long). So really, this is as close as the internet gets it when it comes to that dumb symptom checker (once I've ruled out Cat-scratch disease).
Symptoms include fatigue, feeling tired, or malaise. I checked all three of those boxes. Also, muscle soreness. Check again. It occurs at night most often and can cause difficulty sleeping. Obviously, I called my doctor for an appointment ASAP. Though, the results were overwhelmingly conclusive — massive sleep deprivation.
Considering I hadn't taken any aspirin, I knew it was a long shot. But the internet is pretty convincing so I decided I was feeling faint even though it was a physical reaction to enjoying absolutely no sleep. Go figure.
I can't remember the last time I had enough drinks that would result in a hangover. In fact, I can't remember experiencing any kind of withdrawal (except from missing my daily latte). However, on a couple occasions, after having a drink with friends at dinner, I may have searched for reasons why my head hurt, my mouth was dry, I was grumpy, and my anxiety was elevated. It couldn't have been from life, or kids, or literally anything else. It must've been from that very small bit of alcohol. Right?
I can't lie — most symptoms make me think I'm having a heart attack. Heart burn, muscle spasms, and even nothing at all. The anxiety is real, people.
I'm not the most graceful human specimen ever created, so it made sense to me that during this no-sleep phase I must've hit my head at some point.
I remembered the time my daughter fell off a U-Haul during our move. She hit her head on the concrete and had a pretty bad concussion as the result of her fall. She wanted to go right to sleep. I want to go right to sleep all the time, so it's pretty feasible that I could be suffering from some mysterious concussion too, right? And this is why the internet is a black hole.
A Toxic Marriage
When I'm tired, everything the internet says makes sense — especially when it came to marital and parenting advice. My partner and I already had communication issues, so obviously we were in jeopardy (because Google doesn't lie, right?). Once I kept going, it was determined we weren't right for each other, should divorce, and should also seek immediate and drastic treatment for my desire to adopt more cats.
West Nile Virus
A lot of my sleep problems came when I had children so, naturally, my kids were to blame. A continual cycle of fatigue made me seriously delusional because my kids were/are amazing and not the cause of whatever the internet want to blame them for.
Being tired — and only tired — meant I had to figure out why. Sometimes, however, there wasn't a reason. Every day this week, for example, I slept all night and still feel like a zombie in the morning.
Turns out, being sleep deprived is just par for the parenting course.