I opened my e-mail a few days ago to find several new messages, but one in particular that immediately caught my eye. Maybe it was the exclamation point at the end of the subject line, or maybe it was the standout caps that did it. “HELP!” was what it said, so I ignored the other messages and opened it first.
Someone I had met earlier in the week to develop a weight loss plan was e-mailing to let me know that she was struggling, and it sounded urgent. “It’s not working” was the general message. “I don’t know if I need a new plan . . . I don’t know how to get my life in order . . . ”
As I read the rest, I wondered what – specifically – the problem was. I have received more than a few messages like this one over the years, but they usually give me more details.
“What exactly is going on? Can you be specific?” I replied.
Within a short time, I received an answer. “My life feels out of control. I need to get a grip on it. . . But really the problem is that I have not been sleeping well at all. Do you have any suggestions . . . ?”
Aha, I thought. Been there, done that! For anyone who has ever had trouble sleeping for more than a couple of nights, this comes as no surprise – everything seems harder without sleep.
I have been having a little difficulty sleeping for several months now. I wake up several times most nights, but because I fall right back to sleep each time, I feel well-rested most of the time. If you are female and within the ages of 40 (or even 35) and 55, you have probably experienced some hormonal sleep pattern changes.
Although, as I said, I am sleeping well enough now to feel good, I was reminded last night why sleep is so vital to health, mood, and even weight. I got a call from my sister around dinner time. She said that my mom would be sleeping at her house, and I would need to spend the night with my dad at my parents’ house.
Every so often, my mom just needs to get out of the house and get away from my dad, who suffers from severe dementia. Last night, she was worried about her elevated blood pressure, which seemed to get worse as the day went on.
I ate a quick dinner and grabbed a few things before heading out the door. I am somewhat used to these last minute emergencies. All I really needed to do was sleep, since my dad would be almost ready for bed by the time I got there. Ah, sleep – that was all I needed to do – but couldn’t!
I was tired when I got there, and after putting him to bed, I left my dad in his downstairs bedroom and climbed the stairs to the guest room. And then it started – the nagging worries that kept me awake nearly all night. Would I hear him if he got up? Would he leave the house if I didn’t? Would he fall? . . . .
I hardly drifted off at all, all night long. And when I woke up, I felt like $%^*. I was crabby and tired, tired and crabby. Did I mention I felt OFF? I know the chemistry behind it – hormones rebalance when we sleep – but that was little consolation. A dull headache nagged at me, and when I looked for coffee, there was only DECAF! I could feel my fuse getting shorter by the minute. By the time I left of home, I felt like yelling out the car window, “HELP!”
After my client sent her e-mail, she apologized for feeling so desperate. I reminded her she is human, and it’s OK to reach out for help. We all need it once in a while. I was glad she felt comfortable enough to trust that I would not judge her. I know from personal experience that we all feel out of whack sometimes, and it is so nice when someone will just listen, even if there is no quick fix they can offer.
My husband deserves a “thank you” for being the one I could reach out to this morning. By the time I got home, there was a fresh pot of coffee – REAL coffee – waiting for me. Thanks, Peter!