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Autism: Separate Bedrooms

Yesterday I moved back into my own room. It may have seemed like an unexpected decision to my husband, but it has been a long time coming. You see, I don’t sleep well in the room with him there. It isn’t him, and it doesn’t reflect how our marriage is going (as it might seem from an outside view.) It is just that I have so many sensory issues that it is hard enough to sleep alone, let alone with another person.

The breaking point, however, was about him – and wasn’t his fault.

In the night, the older of my two dogs made a noise that made me think someone was struggling to breathe. It is ‘lucky’ she did for my husband had turned over in his sleep and pinned the younger of my dogs under the blanket between himself and the body pillow they have claimed as their own. I felt under and she didn’t move. I pulled her out, and her body was floppy.

I thought I had lost her; that my husband had ‘killed’ her (which really would have caused issues in our marriage.) It took nearly a minute, rubbing her head and calling her name, before she finally lifted her head and started moving. I put her back on the pillow to sleep, and tried to sleep myself. Needless to say, I was very tired in the morning.

There seems to have been no real harm done, and I know that my husband didn’t mean to do it – he just isn’t aware of what is happening when he is sleeping, and that makes sleeping with small dogs quite dangerous.

For the morning after, though it was ‘cleaning day,’ I spent most of my time unable to think or function, and fixated on the computer. At a comment for my son (that he was spending his time trying to write down everything he could remember about his cat, who died a couple of days ago) I spent a long time going through old emails, and copying any comment that had been made about his cat over the years since that account was opened.

After lunch, as I was changing sheets on ‘our’ bed, I decided that I needed to move back into the ‘pink room’. Clara survived last night, but next time she might not be so lucky. It wasn’t a sudden decision, as it might seem. I have been considering it for a long while due to my sleep issues, and the bad back pain I get as a result of sleeping in a narrow space (with my husband, and my dogs, there wasn’t much space for me. If I can’t stretch out when I am sleeping, I get really bad pain in my lower back on both sides, which I struggle with through the day.)

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I didn’t do it before because I am up so often during the night for the bathroom, and wanted to keep the en-suite I was actually hoping that my husband would choose to go, since most nights he would get up at some point and move to another bed (so as not to have to put on his CPAP mask for sleep apnea again – without which, he snores really bad, which wakes me up.)

Since he kept moving to other beds, or onto the couch in the night, if I was having troubles sleeping, I had nowhere to go. (I can’t crawl in to a bed with ‘dirty’ sheets – even if it is my husband who has used them – even though I can go onto my side of our shared bed without changing the sheets each night.)

There wasn’t even consistency to it. Some nights he was gone by 1am (in which case I could stretch out, and not have so many back issues) where other nights, like last, he would stay until 6:30am – and I would wish through the night, as my pain got worse, that he would leave.

The fact is, sleeping in the same bed is not good for our marriage. I only moved back in with him the summer after I was diagnosed with Autism because I thought it would be good – besides, I was on heavy (okay, only 1/4 of the lowest dose – but they worked great!… until they didn’t) tranquilizers. They only worked for a couple of months however before they stopped putting me to sleep even at higher doses, and started giving me bad side effects. Nothing else the doctor prescribed worked as well, and I have been struggling there ever since.

I actually like the ‘pink room’ more than the Master bedroom, which hasn’t been repainted since we moved in thirteen years ago – but I kind of need the en-suite as I get up so often through the night (and especially since I hate sharing a bathroom, and liked the privacy of that one. When we have guests it is even more of an issue.)

In the end, however, as I woke from a narrow escape and to a very sore back, there was no real choice. My need for a bathroom was not worth the danger to my dogs, and I had to go. (Having the dogs move was not an option, for I sleep better with them, and without people – besides, it wouldn’t have solved the issue with my back, or my sensory issues from sleeping with another person.)

Yet, though it may seem that having separate bedrooms is a bad sign (or something) for a marriage, my moving to another room was not about our marriage at all.

 

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Autism: Things That Keep Me Awake At Night

Last night, it took me many hours to get to sleep. For one thing, I was stuck on the verse: “God makes all things come together for good…” and was arguing it out in my head. Several people at life group brought up stories of tragedy last night, and this verse was mentioned by a couple of people. Not that I don’t believe it, but more that I feel it is dangerous to leave it there. There is more to it, and so many people take it to believe things will come together for better after some serious tragedy. Yet for a lot of people, things don’t get better after that. They live in pain, and question God, and…

When my children were taken, I was brought this verse over and over again – and I kept thinking, “It doesn’t mean it will be better for me.” What about the Jewish and Christian people killed in the Holocaust? What about the Jewish people who were in slavery for something like 400 years in Egypt before God showed up? What about… and I thought of a whole lot of situations where all for good didn’t seem so great individually.

There are a lot of people suffering in the world, and for many of them, things aren’t likely to get much better.

So I thought that the way people use this verse is dangerous, because for those whose lives don’t improve after such bad things, it could lead them to become bitter with God. “God makes all things come together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” Okay, so does that mean if things don’t improve, it means our love for God isn’t genuine?

I don’t believe it.

“God makes all things come together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes.” I thought of this over and over, and asked: “What is it that those who love God and are called according to his purposes want?” In other words, what is it that we, as Christians, are supposed to want our lives, and our actions to do?

The answer: Bring glory to God.

So if the verse read: “God makes all things work together for his glory,” well then even the tragedy would be worth it for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

This post wasn’t meant to be about this thought at all. Sometimes things write themselves, and that is okay. The things that keep me awake at night!

The other thing that kept me awake last night was my cat.

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Ditch is an extremely affectionate, funny, into everything type of cat. He is my buddy, and when my dog died, he never left my side for two weeks. Even before that, he spent a lot of time lying against me, purring, and kneading. My Gryff was an independent dog, who didn’t mind sharing me with the others. Clara, on the other hand, has pretty much attached herself to my side, and doesn’t like anyone else getting “mommy time,” so Ditch takes his where he can get it, often when she is buried under the blankets, sleeping.

Last night that meant making his way onto my pillow where he spent hours purring, kneading, and licking my forehead. Not exactly conductive to sleep, and he is not one to be deterred. I’d push him away, and he would slap my hand away, or bite it (lightly, but enough to let me know he was annoyed.) Feeling bad that he hadn’t had so much attention from me in a while, I turned over (which stopped the licking) and allowed him to keep kneading.

Every once in a while, I would try to move him away so I could get to sleep, and he would bite, or slap, and keep going. Finally about 2am, I picked him up, and put him out of the bed. I felt bad, but after that I was able to slow my thoughts down and get to sleep.

Four hours of thoughts and purrs, bites, and kneading, with my husband sleeping soundly beside me – and he wonders why I have so much trouble getting up in the morning.

 

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Autism: Anchors to Help Me Sleep

It used to happen a lot – a lot meaning 3 to 4 nights on a regular week. Thankfully the medication my psychiatrist has prescribed for my severe anxiety also has strong sedative qualities. That is why she chose these ones for me.

When I get into bed, I am tired. There is no question that I need the sleep, or even that I want it – but I lie there, awake, and the sleep will not come.

Sometimes it is because of the thoughts… those never ending thoughts, that I should have been able to work through during my waking hours. Of ten the thoughts are there. Often I can’t get them to stop. But that is not the whole reason for my lack of sleep.

I lie in my bed, and my body feels like it is floating. Not quite present in the space I should be occupying. I suppose this might be an issue for astronauts flying in their spaceship. Maybe for them this sensation would be explainable. But I am not in space. I am tied to this world, to this body, just like everyone else – only it doesn’t feel that way.

In the last few months, I have been using my weighted blanket for this reason, and it helps… a lot. It anchors me to my bed, and allows me to feel secure enough to sleep. But even this blanket – which I love – has its drawbacks.

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The main one being that I sleep on my stomach. I have only been able to sleep this way since I had my first bad episode with my back in the summer of 2004. This makes it very hard to pull my 15 lbs blanket into the correct position for it to work well.

If it is too low on my back, it really aggravates my skin, and that keeps me awake. If it is too high up on my neck, it makes my neck sore, and gives me a headache. If it is too low on my shoulders, I still feel like I am floating, and can’t sleep. If I struggle for too long to get my blanket into the perfect position, my muscles ache for the rest of the night.

Some nights it seems I can’t win, and last night was one of those. Much of the night was spent feeling like I would float away, and the rest with my skin irritated, and achy from my fight to try to anchor myself.

Restless nights lead to unproductive days, and today has been no exception. For the weekend, while my husband was home, I had all of these goals and desires for things I would accomplish this week. Most days I can’t work while he is here – while anyone is around me, really – and so I was really looking forward to today when I could start working. But it didn’t happen.

There must be a good solution to this issue of mine. Maybe someday I will find it.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Autism: Reality

 

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