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Can You Die from Not Sleeping?

Guest: Simone de Muñoz

When my oldest son was born 10 years ago, I checked in with myself during those first few weeks for signs of “the baby blues.” I never got it. I was exhausted, but happy. Especially in the beginning, when family came to help and friends dropped by to visit, life was like a new adventure. Then the months started to drag on. I was home all day managing all of the housework that comes with a baby, and of course, taking care of the baby himself, and not sleeping. Even when the baby slept, I could not. I tried to explain to my doctor that something was wrong, but she dismissed my concerns as that of a typical new mom. 

I would wake up at 3 am to some real or imagined baby noise and not be able to go back to sleep. Night after night, I tossed and turned. The bags under my eyes grew bags of their own. Words that I knew slipped beyond reach. I would take any opportunity just to lie down. I spoke to another doctor. She told me that being tired would not kill me. I’m pretty sure that’s not true—how many car crashes are caused by exhausted drivers?

I actually fantasized about crashing my car and being taken to a hospital where they would give me drugs that would help me sleep for days. Eventually, I got help. I worked with a therapist and got to the bottom of the issue—post-partum anxiety—and learned techniques that I still use for falling back asleep if I wake up in the middle of the night. I also learned the importance of taking care of my own mental health deliberately and not stopping until I find the right person to help. 
I really appreciated the recent opportunity to talk about my experiences with postpartum anxiety and my writing with Randi-Lee on her podcast Write or Die. Every time someone talks about their mental health struggles openly, the stigma and shame get a little smaller until maybe one day, they will disappear entirely. Writing is my self-care. I have a book and a short story currently available on Amazon, Manflu and The First Time in Forever. Thanks for checking out my work!

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