I am not a medical professional of any kind. Just so you know. I’m a late-20s girl who has been dealing with mental issues for almost as long as I can think. Insomnia being one of them. Research suggests that a lot of people who deal with depression and anxiety also deal with insomnia. The glorious trifecta.
This is not about telling you what to do or giving you the solution for all your insomnia problems, this is about telling you what it feels like for me. I believe we don’t talk enough about our struggles, especially not with the people who ‘get’ us. When I read the comments under Lex’ video I realized how liberating it can feel to just describe what your mental imbalance of (well, not really) choice feels like and to read that other people feel the same, or even slightly different. Or what helps them to feel better.
In the vein of this I found these the other day: A young artist who drew his anxiety monster to weaken it and take away the sting.
So here it is. In the spirit of weakening the power my insomnia here is what it feels like:
It begins with being awake in the middle of the night even though I should be tired.
It goes on with the panic of working myself into a panic by focussing on the unbidden thoughts that pop up in my head and focussing on the fact that I have to get up at 6am and I’m not asleep yet.
I have to prevent the panic at all costs so I start watching a show. At the end of the episode I’m not tired enough, so one episode turns into five. The blue light from the screen doesn’t help.
I’m driven by the thought that if I don’t get tired enough to sleep the panic will come. So I keep on watching and the clock mercilessly ticks down.
By 4am I am finally tired enough to sleep. I set three alarms to make sure I don’t oversleep.
I spend the day on 2hrs of sleep and the fear of falling asleep too early so I will wake up too early and can’t fall asleep again.
I stop drinking any sort of caffeine by 2pm as to not mess with my sleepiness level.
Until I allow myself to try and sleep I am so sluggish and tired that I am completely unproductive throughout the day, which opens the stresslevel of being behind on school work.
By the time I let myself try to go to sleep my stresslevels are so high that I can’t sleep anymore. But the stress/sleepdeprivation/anxiety won’t let me work properly either.
Even if you take the work situation out of the equation and the ‘having to get up at 6’ this all just leads to my sleeping rythm shifting to between 4-5am and 12pm, affecting me in a way that I have such a slow start to the day that the rest of my day is again unproductive.
Personally I have noticed that sleepdeprivation augments my depression episodes, to a point where a somewhat mild episode can be spiralled into downright suicidal if I don’t take care of myself.
What helps me is to eat right, drink enough and work out but also to keep my room tidy and be productive throughout the day (aka eliminate as much stress as possible).
Some of these insomnia episodes are brought on by immediate stress, like a presentation in the morning or a deadline, others just pop up seemingly without reason. And then there are the nights where everybody seems to sleep badly possibly brought on by the moon or sun storms, etc. I personally believe that the moon is affecting our bodies.
Tea before bed has a soothing, calming effect on me, it won’t put me to sleep but it will give me a fighting chance against the panic. Lavender or mint-scented things are calming for me, too (Yankee Candles- Season of Peace is a last resort of mine). If I’m rewatching the Tudors you can count on it that I’m having trouble sleeping.
What is your insomnia like? What do you do to stop it from taking control?
Let’s drag this monster out of the dark and break its power!