When Your Mornings, and Life, Are the Worst
Are mornings an essential part of your successful day, or are they the worst thing to happen to you?
I work overnight, from midnight to 7 am, more or less. When I used to sleep at night, frequently, I would lounge in bed, listening to the first morning showers of the season, enjoying the darkness and the brush of cold air from the air conditioner.
Now, I only know it’s morning when I get up from my desk for a pee break and see the light trickling in through the curtains. There is no lying in bed under the covers in the dark, relishing the softness as my brain tries to come to terms with being awake.
After a night of pushing myself to be creative and hiding the dark thoughts and the voices that try to make me lose focus, I am spent. But there are only more hours ahead taking care of kids and trying to be productive until I can finally collapse next to my napping son for a few hours of blissful sleep.
I’m sitting here hoping for the morning because the sunlight will drive away the dark thoughts that have been plaguing me all night. It was a night of feeling worthless and less-than. I felt disappointed in myself for not being a success yet and wondering why I can never seem to make anyone happy.
I feel like a failure, and the voices hide in the dark, just out of sight, mocking me for being a whiny loser.
When the morning comes, and my family wakes up, I have to pretend that I’m not sick and everything is okay, and I can’t show my depression and anxiety. I have to mend fences and try to fix the mess I’ve made of my life and everyone else.
I am alone, and the darkness mocks me, but I don’t think the light will be any better.
I haven’t always hated the morning. I used to get up early when Zoey had to go to school. I made the rice for breakfast and sometimes even had eggs and ham on the table when Flora and the kids woke up. I don’t cook enough because Flora hates when I do. I don’t know what’s different about the eggs when I cook them, but she asks that I refrain from making the meals most times.
My job in the morning used to be to get Zoey ready for school. But there has been no going to school for almost a year. Now, I spend all morning chasing the boy around because he is always getting into something.
I have to smile and hide how I feel because lately, everything I do seems to be the wrong thing. I’m lazy, and I don’t do enough around the house. I wish they knew I was trying my best.
I could just give up and go to bed. My stomach is not as sick in bed, and the fatigue and body aches don’t hurt as much. If I pull the covers over my head, maybe the voices don’t yell so loud, and deep-breathing makes the anxiety better.
But, I know they need me because mornings are chaos, and they can’t manage it by themselves. So, I try not to be lazy. I try to smile. I know I have to smile because I ruin everyone’s morning with my attitude when I don’t.
I try to ignore the anger in their eyes and not feel I’m just a burden they would rather not have to deal with.
I don’t know if some of my problems are the higher doses of medication that I take. I’m so doped up that it takes an act of mother nature to snap me out of my reverie sometimes. I stumble around, heavy-lidded eyes staring at nothing. More than likely, I am so drugged up that I injure my toes on the door frame and walk around spewing f-bombs for awhile.
I am grumpy and short-tempered, and I know I’m not very good company.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying to work all night and get through the day through a haze of psychiatric meds, you don’t know what you’re missing. The strongest coffee doesn’t even make a dent in the stupor in my first hour after the sun rises.
I am barely holding on by the tips of my fingers, trying to make it until the boy naps and I can sleep for a while.
The Perfect Morning
If everything in my life were perfect and I could sleep instead of working all night, I would get up at 5 am every morning, even on weekends. I would stand on my porch, drinking coffee and relishing the cool air coming off the ocean.
Then, I would strap on my walking shoes for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. The times I’ve walked in the morning were terrific. I felt energized and alert when I finally sat down to write for the day.
Then, I would take a cold, refreshing bucket bath and wash off the sweat and germs from a good night's sleep. Then, a healthy breakfast, catching up with my family at the table.
I wouldn’t touch my phone until much later to not spoil the serenity of my morning rites.
Then I would sit to write or make a video, uninterrupted by the family’s needs and wants because I have already managed to get everything done.
Except that’s not how it works.
My Actual Morning
Often, I will finish my work early, and I will go lay in bed and sleep the sleep of the desperate for an hour.
I wake in a panic with my wife yelling loud enough to echo in the bedroom. She’s not grouchy; that’s just how her voice sounds first thing in the morning. I roll over and grab my phone and stare at notifications and stats until I hear her yelling with more urgency and a twinge of irritation.
Ugh, 8:10 am…
I get shakily to my feet and stumble to the bedroom door, catching my finger in the door as I slam it. Yes, that’s blood under my nail. I mumble “good morning” to the wife, who has already been up for an hour and is now making eggs.
She glares in my direction and doesn’t say good morning back.
I reach for the instant coffee because brewed coffee is way too much trouble, and I’ve learned to adore the taste of freeze-dried. The smell of the java perks me up, but I spill it setting it down on the table anyway.
I try to make sense of my stats while I sip, trying my best not to burn my tongue but failing. We eat a hurried meal and rush around trying to get the house in order before wifey has her first class of the day. One of the other reasons I work overnight is because she tutors English most days, and I have to pick up the slack.
At 10:00 am, she begins her work, and I take the baby to the room where he will be quiet. Zoey sits at the table and does her school work.
I try my best to stay awake, but sometimes I can’t.
This goes on every day, except when I have to put out fires. There always seems to be a bill that needs paying, or an item needs picking up from the store if Flora doesn’t have a class.
As tired and as sick as I am, I am not supposed to fall asleep. It seems I am always trying to push sleep away.
I never get enough, except for when my body just can’t take anymore, and I pass out, exhausted for a whole day.
That happened today.
What About You?
But, this isn’t all about me. I bet as you read my morning follies, you are thinking about your own screwed-up morning routine. Life is complicated, and that includes mornings.
I researched and came up with a way that I (and you) can change mornings from crazy to serene, and I wanted to share.
Get a Good Nights Sleep
Are you staying up until 2 am watching Friends on Netflix? Stop it! Go to bed early and get at least 7 hours of sleep. If you’re under a lot of stress during the day, you may need much more.
Sleep is one of the most important things your body needs to reset and recharge, so don’t overlook it because you want to see how Rachel is wearing her hair in the next episode.
As for myself, I have to try to find time to get more sleep. I can’t afford to have days where I am so exhausted I can’t get out of bed.
Wake up early
If I didn’t have to work all night, my ideal morning would start at 5 am, but it may be different for you. Get up early enough that you can get through your routine at a leisurely pace. Try to have enough time to exercise and move your body, even if it’s only a walk around the block.
Eat something healthy
Some people skip breakfast, but I find that I always feel better when I’ve gotten some protein, carbs, and good fat in my body. My cholesterol is good, so I make sure I always get eggs with butter, rice, and some meat or other protein.
I don’t believe in low-fat because your body needs protein, carbs, and fat in moderation. It would help if you balanced what you eat, so your mind and body get everything it needs.
Have a routine
You don’t need a checklist that you check off every morning, but some kind of routine is helpful, especially if you feel hazy or foggy in the morning.
When I am stumbling around for coffee, I should have a list of things I know need doing before I can work or sleep.
Whether you spring out of bed every morning, ready to take on the day, or you fall out of bed late after an hour’s sleep and rush around in a stupor doing everything you need to do like me, mornings are an essential part of our day.
Having a productive morning will set you up for success. It helps if you can get enough sleep so you can wake up early, get some exercise, and eat a healthy breakfast.
I’m going to keep trying to improve my mornings every day, if if I have to work all night
What about you?