It is quiet, dark, and one can hear every single creak in the house, to every snowflake, rain drop, or wind gust outside. That amazing hour that you are completely alone with your thoughts and fears.
When it first starts, you wonder what is wrong with you, desperately tossing and turning to find that comfortable spot, or to think of nothing but wonderful thoughts, just to fall asleep again. It never works, but night after night, you try, you want to be normal, you want to wake up refreshed. Instead, you are up, groggy, and panic-stricken, like someone has sat on your chest for hours.
It started at the age of 10, it was innocent enough, I would sleep with the light on, but soon wake up at various points in the night. I would make my way down the hall to my parents bed, my Father was always closest to the door. He would automatically lift the blankets up, I would climb in, and drift back to sleep.
By the age of 12, I would fall asleep, and then wake up at 1am, never going back to sleep, and I wouldn’t make my way down the hall any more, knowing that I would just stay awake. At first, I was petrified, I was terrified of night, and what lurked around corners. Soon, it became soothing. I got into the habit of reading, sometimes drifting off as the sun came up, sometimes not having a wink of sleep for days.
I hid it well, terrified of telling my parents I didn’t sleep, that sleep brought anxiety. I would pretend I was asleep when my parents came to check on me, I became an expert at sleep acting. In boarding school, sleep was something I got on and off. I would sometimes hide out in the bathroom with a book, no one ever knew how severe it was becoming.
It wasn’t until I began working at the Foreign Service, that I realized, none of my colleagues that had been posted in either war zones or incredible difficult living situations, ever slept. The night, brought on paralysis. For most, the only time they slept was when they took a sleeping pill, had a shot or two of alcohol, or they were in between boughts of Insomnia. No one had ever heard of a child suffering from it, which brought on more questions about their own children.
What really struck me, was how can one not think a child could suffer the just like an adult? Insomnia can go hand in hand with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and guess what, kids in various postings, can suffer from pretty traumatic events, and the trauma will manifest itself in various ways.