Marie Louise McConville: Lack of sleep is making an already grim 2021 all the more difficult
I'm not going to lie, I've been driving the struggle bus this week.
To be fair, the start of any new year can be grim.
We have Christmas Day and Boxing Day and then we have that weird `nothing' time until New Year and then there's confusion about what day it is or where we are meant to be or what we are meant to be doing.
And then, we have to start back to work and for me, it was a series of late shifts.
As if all of that wasn't bad enough, we entered 2021 in lockdown and now even more restrictions have been placed on us and the schools are closed and I'm back to working from home while teaching and entertaining two children.
Things were looking anything but bright and then to make matters worse, an old friend of mine arrived unannounced.
I haven't seen them in quite a while, hadn't missed them and to be honest, I had hoped I would never see them again but alas, it was not to be.
So, not only am I having to deal with a flat start to the year and back to home-schooling but my old friend insomnia has also moved in.
I haven't had a proper night's sleep in a while now and I don't mean a full eight hours. I haven't had that since I became a mother.
Nope, normally I can fit in four to five hours of broken sleep but not lately.
I have tried most things to try and fix it, including not watching TV immediately before bed and having a warm drink.
I even bought new bedding - but nothing.
The other night, I thought I was going to lose my mind as I tossed and turned and tossed and turned.
Every minute seemed to last a lifetime and then it was time to get up and I was knackered.
Obviously, there is something keeping me awake and I'm pretty sure the pandemic, lockdowns and school closures are it.
Working from home, all the days begin to blend into one and before you know it, you haven't left the house in a week. For some reason, night time is when my brain chooses to process and catastrophize everything.
I always maintained I would try my best to stay strong through these mentally-draining, unusual times but I suppose there is only so much a person can take.
Going forward, I have decided to accept that this is life now.
I cannot change it but it's not permanent.
I think it's time we all became a little kinder to ourselves and that's just what I plan to do - more me time and little treats along the way.
I've started with a new shampoo and conditioner and a scalp massager so we will see how it goes.
Fingers crossed it helps or there's always the Caribbean - well, if the celebs can do it, why can't I?
There was great news for Doctor Who fans this week with the announcement that comedian, John Bishop is to join the cast for the upcoming 13th season.
The 54-year-old is to take on the role of Dan as he boards the Tardis alongside The Doctor and Yaz on the much-loved sci-fi show.
Speaking about his new role, the funny man said the move was an "absolute dream".
I've never been a fan of Doctor Who or anything sci-fi-related, but I love John Bishop so him joining the cast might motivate me to give it a go.
January really is the most dull month, so how about losing yourself in a "lovely, fascinating, proper treat of a read"?
A Ration Book Childhood by Jean Fullerton has been described as "richly textured and engrossing".
With her family struggling amidst the nightly bombing raids in London's East End, Ida Brogan is doing her very best to keep their spirits up.
The Blitz has hit the Brogans hard, and rationing is more challenging than ever.
When Ida's oldest friend Ellen returns to town, sick and in dire need of help, it is to Ida that she turns.
However, Ellen carries a secret, one that threatens not only Ida's marriage, but the entire foundation of the Brogan family.
Can Ida let go of the past and see a way to forgive her friend?
I have five copies of A Ration Book Childhood to give away.
If you fancy winning a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is 12 noon on Tuesday, January 12, 2021
(Q) Who wrote A Ration Book Childhood?
Normal rules apply but there will be a delay in processing our competitions during restrictions.
The winners of the Forger's Daughter are M McMahon, from Glenariff, Ciara Nic Ruaidhri, Machaire Fíolta, Catherine McKee, from Belfast, Jennifer Mason, from Downpatrick, and Sonia Haddad, from Newry