Tuesday 18 June 2019

Met Éireann's Joanna Donnelly on debilitating condition: 'It can affect your relationships'

RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly
RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly
Joanna Donnelly. Photo: RTE
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Met Éireann meterologist Joanna Donnelly has revealed that she has been battling the “debilitating” condition of insomnia for three decades.

The much beloved weather presenter, known for her bubbly and to-the-point forecasts, told RTE's Claire Byrne Live in a video last night that the condition has serious mental and physical effects on the body.

She told viewers how insomnia “can affect your work, it can affect your relationships. You’re snapping at your husband, you’re snapping at your children.”

“It isn't just 'I can't sleep'. Insomnia is a debilitating condition that can go on for days… you just can’t function. I can’t eat, I can’t exercise, I can’t think straight... it's a different condition.”

Joanna, who later tweeted that she has a better handle on the condition now, said the symptoms include nausea, blurred vision, and disorientation, and can limit what you're capable of doing in life. She couldn’t exercise or read.

“It’s torture. You’re tired at 9.30pm but you say ‘I’m not going to bed’ because if I go to bed at 9.30pm, I’ll fall asleep, then I’ll wake at 11.30pm and I’m awake.

“When you know that you have insomnia, you know that you’re lacking in sleep, you have to stay aware of what those symptoms can do to you.”

The fatigue caused by insomnia also means that sufferers feels worthless and not-liked.

“There was a few years there when I wasn’t really functioning very well, as a grown woman,” she admitted.

“My life got very small as well, I was only around the house and not venturing very far, not getting very much done, not expanding my career because I was tired.”

The meteorologist who often tweets about her active lifestyle, also said: “I get a lot done in a day. I’ve got a lovely house, a great job, I run, cycle, swim, I’m out with the kids, I’m on the residents’ committee, I’m running the charity, I’m doing a lot of stuff, and then along comes the insomnia and you can’t sleep and you can’t do anything.

“And I’m sitting on the sofa and I can’t even read, and that’s really depressing, that's just really depressing.”

Turning on the smiles for weather broadcasts can be difficult when you haven't slept properly for days, she admitted.

“The position I have, where I’m in front of a camera, I obviously have to paint on the face, and put on the smile and shake off the personality and try to deliver the message.

“But that’s not easy, that’s hard.

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