Hello, my dear.✨

Those who know me know I struggle with insomnia on and off for years. It's my #1 irrational fear and one of the things that shaped me most.

Insomnia sucks. It’s a cruel and unpredictable villain and an expert at temporarily derailing your life.

Nevertheless, today I find it hard to imagine what my life would be like without it. Today, insomnia is something I can more or less control with medication and thanks to my flexible schedule as an entrepreneur. This wasn’t always the case. There was a time I found my insomnia-ridden life excruciatingly hard.

Looking back, it was the difficult times — the times I desperately binged doctors and sleeping pills; the time I lay on my bedroom carpet, crying and shaking out of desperation and sheer exhaustion; the time I was caught between a rock and a hard place — when I found tenderness and incredible life learnings thanks to insomnia.

Nb. I don't write this email to show you how there's a positive spin to everything and you just need to find it. There isn't.

However, as Pema Chödrön put it in her life-changing book When Things Fall Apart, Life can be a good teacher and a good friend. When I go through rough patches, it helps me to think of my experiences not as obstacles but as natural parts of the process called life; as occurrences that'll make me more resilient, wise, and interesting. It doesn't always work instantly, but it often enough changes my perspective just enough to not freak out entirely.🤯😉

In a recent article I wrote for the wonderful Mind Café-publication, I laid out 5 humbling life lessons from my lifelong battle with insomnia.

I decided to share these lessons with you today in the hope they can help you bring up more compassion and patience towards yourself and the hardships you have to deal with.🤍

Note these are excerpts from the article and I go into more detail there. If you find it helpful it'd mean the world if you could give it 50 claps.👏
Exclusive footage of me trying to sleep.😜  Jk, image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay.

Lesson #1: You’re Not In Control

As much as we’d like to think we can control our health, mental state, and, overall, our life, this is only true to a limited extent. Insomnia and (mental) illness, in general, are prime examples of this fact.
This doesn’t mean I stopped to try to improve my situation. Rather, I stopped to think something’s fundamentally wrong with me and started to see insomnia and my resulting suffering as part of what it means to be human.

Lesson #2: Your Current Situation Isn’t Your Final Destination

When caught in the depths of insomnia it’s easy to feel like life won’t improve, ever.

Nevertheless, after a few cycles of sleeplessness, I learned no feeling is final and life goes on.

While earlier I felt like my life was slipping out of my hands I understood this is also life — and while the experience sucks, it puts way less negative weight onto how things will eventually turn out than I imagined in my darkest hours.

Lesson #3: The Other Person Is Always Right

Nothing taught me empathy and kindness like insomnia did.

Before I suffered from this chronic mental disorder, I was a lot more insensitive to other people’s irrational fears. I thought of myself as a tough cookie and had trouble understanding how other people couldn’t get their emotional and mental sh*t together.
The thought What if I can’t sleep tonight? is an insidious seed anything can sow during the day. Once planted, it grows uncontrollably and results in nervous vigilance despite complete exhaustion.
If all this isn’t irrational, I don’t know what is.
Consequently, insomnia told me to never, ever trivialize other people’s so-called irrational fears and mental problems.


Lesson #4: Unsolicited Advice Is Toxic & Disrespectful

Take this from someone who received a lot of unsought sleeping advice: To have to listen to some advice you didn’t ask for from someone who never went through what you went through is annoying at best and can be upsetting and disquieting at worst.
Rule of thumb: If someone struggles with something chronically, you can safely assume they tried everything in their power to improve their situation. Should there be something they left untried, it’s usually for a damn good reason.


Lesson #5: Psychotropic Drugs Can Be Good Friends

(Sleeping) pills are not the devil.

I know there are horror stories where people got addicted to Ambien for a lifetime but I’m convinced these are the exception rather than the rule. What’s 1,000 times worse than an occasional sleeping pill is sleep deprivation and the constant stress and anxiety that result from it.
My experience with them drove home the fact there’s absolutely no shame in getting help, be it therapy, psychotropic drugs, or a combination of both. Unless proven otherwise no one has the right to voice their opinions or concerns about how you decide to help yourself.
Here's the link again to my (more detailed) article.


Things I enjoyed in the past weeks:

Note: Apart from articles, I recently started to add my favorite books and podcast-episodes to my virtual Bookshlf (the place where I list all digital content I consume).

📚Book: Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch
As the title says, this is a first aid toolbox for everyday emotional hardships. It helps you treat failure, guilt, rejection, loss, loneliness, rumination, and low self-esteem without the claim of being a panacea.

🎧 Podcast episode: Yoko Ono Broke Up The Beatles from the You're Wrong About-podcast
This one came with so many new insights about the Beatles and how the mere perception Yoko Ono broke them up is nothing but internalized misogyny. Also, you'll learn about completely different sides of John Lennon you probably weren't aware of.

🕸️ Website: Project Gutenberg
This is such a gem. Project Gutenberg is an online library of 60.000+ free ebooks. You can find lots of classics here, neatly prepared in epub and Mobi-format.

🎶 Article: The Complete Guide to Music for Productivity by Shamay Agaron
"In most cases, people have good intuition for choosing music. There is one exception, though — when they’re trying to be productive." - this elaborate article helps you pick the right music for any task and achieve deep focus.

❤️ Resource: Interactive Self-Care Guide
These days, I thought it'd be good to share this. It's an interactive flow chart for people who struggle with self-care, executive dysfunction, and/or who have trouble reading internal signals. Another helpful first-aid tool for your mental health.


Thank you for being here.🙏

If you enjoy The Self-Letter, there are 5 ways to show your support:

1. ☕You can
buy me a coffee and boost me for the day.
2. 📩 Forward this newsletter to a friend who struggles with insomnia.  Pass on this link to it. You can also screenshot it and share it on social (e.g. Instagram story). Word of mouth will always be the best way to help me and share.;

3. 👏Read and clap for
my stories on Medium;

 4. 🐦Follow me on Twitter @juliho_;

5. 📚Follow me on Bookshlf @juliahorvath.
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