Postpartum depression and anxiety, for me, meant a lot of sleepless nights. Even now, insomnia is still very much a struggle of mine. In fact, it is very difficult for me to fall asleep in my own bed. Usually, I lay wide awake until frustration causes me to find a new place to rest. My therapist suggested a makeover–for my room, not for me! The thinking is that perhaps a makeover would remove most of the negative associations in my room. I think there are many!
The first thing I would change is the orange walls. Orange isn’t exactly a soothing, calming color. It doesn’t lull one into sleep, that’s for sure. It is a beautiful color, and I love the way the orange works with the jewel tones of the curtains and other items in the room. The room has a warm Indian vibe. However, it has been said that orange is the color of adventure. While bedroom adventures sound fun (wink, wink), ain’t no adventure happening if I’m completely exhausted and sleep deprived!!
Then there’s the bed. I remember when my husband and I were at the beginning of our relationship and bought our bed. It was $900, which then felt like a helluva lot of money (ok, I admit, it still feels like a lot). We were so excited to have made our first major purchase together. All I wanted to do was lay in that bed. It was larger than the bed we’d previously shared.
But now it seems so small, although it takes up so much space in the room. There are 4 of us now, if you count the dog–and you should, since he shares the bed. He even sometimes sleeps like a human, his head on a pillow near ours and his body under the blankets. Most nights, I sleep with my son in his Twin bed. I do not like my own bed. It squeaks. It feels tiny. Every time my husband moves, it feels like someone is standing at the foot of the bed shaking it. Every single move wakes me up.
The alarm clock, with its angry red numbers, faces the bed, which seems so dumb. I spent so many sleepless nights staring at that thing. In my head, I begged for sleep until my anger got the better of me and I gave up and got up. Or until the baby cried and I had to get up anyway. I do that thing where I tell myself “If I fall asleep right now, I can get X hours of sleep.” I do it all night long, even though I know better.
Sometimes when I attempt to sleep in my room, I am hit with a wave of memories of the beginning of motherhood. A photograph that features my bed comes to mind when I think about my postpartum depression.
Taken at the end of my maternity leave, during the beginning of my PPD/PPA.
I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, holding my 4-month-old son. I had just returned to work from my maternity leave, or maybe I was about to. My smile is fake, and my eyes are wide and tired. I can see the anxiety behind the mask.
When I lay in that bed, I am anxious again. My therapist is right. I need to change the room. Insomnia was a HUGE part of my PPD. And my bedroom became associated with anxiety about sleep. During my PPD, I learned subconsciously to associate the bed, the walls, the everything-in-that-space with the darkest, scariest time of my life.
Googling “negative associations of the bedroom,” I found a website that said:
People who are conditioned against their own bedroom typically react with a heightened state of arousal when going to bed, rather than the kind of relaxed drowsiness that is more conducive to falling sleep.
I know what I need to do. First and foremost, I need to MAKE the time to spend reworking that room. The walls need to be a different, more soothing color. I’m keeping the curtains–they’re so pretty! I need to rearrange the furniture and maybe get rid of what isn’t necessary in order to open up some space. Clutter makes me angsty. I will remove the alarm clock altogether. I will replace the blinds with the room-darkening kind. I will use aromatherapy in the room. And a sound machine! I will treat myself to a new comforter, the softer the better! And since the floors are wood, perhaps an area rug would change the room even more. I bought my dog a fancy new bed, although I don’t think he will use it to sleep in.
What else do you think I should do to give my room–and maybe my sleep–a makeover?