By: Bridget H
“OMG. I have such bad insomnia, I could not fall asleep until 3 am last night” Emily confessed to Claire besides the row of lockers. All Claire could think of was how one night of missed rest does not mean someone has insomnia, she has heard this phrase many times before. This has gone on for a week under all the stress of finals; however a week is not even close to the required month there is to diagnose insomnia, how could she possibly know better than the doctors Claire thought. Emily had no idea about
A few months prior, Claire’s psychiatrist diagnosed her with Insomnia and prescribed Trazadone, a medication commonly used for Insomnia, to calm the night terrors. Claire’s self conscious demeanor prevented her from telling Emily that Emily had no clue what insomnia actually was. Everyday, Claire hears the ignorant comments of her peers each day about how they are experiencing extreme fatigue; however, none of them can truly understand the full extent of insomnia. Emily is exhausted all day only to find herself wired at night. She wakes up three or four times each night for no apparent reason. She finds herself lying up three hours early and not falling back asleep even though she feels so tired tears escape from her eyes. Claire has suffered from this ever since she was a child, but only just received help, due to the fact that it seemed that almost every kid in her school said they had insomnia but functioned just fine.
Last week, Claire had an advanced placement Chemistry test and an advanced placement Calculus BC test during the same day. She knew everything and did not have a worry in the world. The night before those tests her mind would not let her rest. She tried everything. Reading, Sleepytime tea and counting sheep, but the sheep never ended they just kept coming. There were no racing thoughts about how infinity multiplied by infinity doesn’t always equal infinity or how .9999 repeating equals 1 just one sheep after another jumping over that stupid fence under the moon until tears were running down her face because she just wanted an hour of sleep. Emily will never understand that point in the night where Claire breaks down crying of exhaustion because she does not actually have the Insomnia. Only 10% of adults have chronic insomnia and tired teenagers who stare at the fluorescents of their computer screens generally do not. People who have not been properly diagnosed with Insomnia should not talk about “how bad their Insomnia is.”
Transforming a disease like Insomnia into an adjective can have detrimental effects on the people suffering from them. These descriptors are inconsiderate to those with them because they downplay the symptoms. Trivializing insomnia creates stereotypes about it. For example, when teenagers at a school start making light of the term insomnia teachers are less likely to take students seriously when they express the struggle they are facing due to this trivialized illness.