I Can’t Sleep

There’s nothing quite as long and lonely as a sleepless night. I should know; I’ve had a lot of those recently. Getting enough sleep has been an issue for me for years, however over the past couple of months, it’s gotten so much worse. Even on the nights when I’m not pulling dreadful all-nighters, it can take me ages just to turn off my active mind and fall asleep.

I’m currently writing this post at 3 a.m. (although I’ll surely edit it with a clearer head). It’s been about five hours since I took my melatonin and crawled into bed; five hours of tossing and turning, of practicing the many sleep skills my therapist taught me, of anxiously staring at my dark ceiling wondering why none of those skills are working, and finally of reaching my breaking point where I can’t take it anymore and grabbing my computer.

Basically a pretty typical night in the life.

Pinpointing the direct cause of my insomnia hasn’t been easy. At the end of the summer, I decided (with the consent of my psychiatrist of course) to gradually reduce the dosage of an antianxiety medication I’d been on for six years. I went from 225 mg to 50 mg over the course of a couple of months. (I tried going off it entirely but that was a disaster so I stuck with 50). We think this was around the time my sleeping got worse.

But I’ve also been more excited—and stressed—lately than I have in a while. Anxiety about the pandemic and politics aside, a lot has been happening in my personal life, namely the upcoming publication of my third book. Anyone who’s ever self-published a book knows how much there is to do to get ready for a launch. From communicating with my cover designer to editing proofs to uploading materials to KDP to figuring out how I’m going to successfully market this thing entirely online, I’ve been working diligently all day—and sometimes through the night—to make sure all the key components are in their place. Add that to the semi-weekly uploads to Nourish and my ever-growing college workload, and my mind is in overdrive twenty-four seven.

Then, of course, it could be the time of the year. Historically, my mental health is always the worst in the fall for a variety of reasons (check out my September Slump post for more on that). Usually that slump manifests as depression, but this year, anxiety seems to have taken the reins. And, like the insomnia, determining the culprit for my anxiety, not to mention how to best manage it, has been a puzzle more perplexing than the four-thousand-piece jigsaw in my living room.

Whatever the reason is, I know I can’t go on like this. Good sleep hygiene is essential for everyone—especially for people who are in recovery from mental illness. When I’m tired and have no energy, I’m more likely to feel depressed, and when I’m depressed, I’m more likely to restrict. It’s a toxic chain reaction that begins with a crappy night and ends with a plethora of mental health issues.

I’m Zooming with my psychiatrist tomorrow so hopefully we can sort this out. I’ll be sure to post an update when my sleep improves and possibly share tips if I can find ones that work. Please let me know what works for you in the comments. At this point, I’m open to trying almost anything that will help me catch some Zs!

15 Comments on “I Can’t Sleep”

  1. Yep, you hit all the important points about insomnia and the many strategies you’re using and still it continues. It’s a drag and hopefully you’ll find the answer to why and how and finally get some well deserved sleep. We all need your wit and insight!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you, not sleeping has been an issue for me too for many years. It can get to the point where I dread going to bed even when I feel really tired as I know that does not necessarily translate to sleeping. Athough, I have not found anything that works consistently, I do believe that even though I am not sleeping, my body is resting so it will get some benefit. Sometimes the 4-7-8 breathing (inhale 4 breaths, hold for 7 and exhale for 8) can help relax and focus the mind. Good luck, it is tough when sleeping is a struggle but I hope you find something that works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve started dreading going to bed 😦 But I like what you said about resting my body. I think that’s really important to keep in mind. I’ll try the breathing technique–thanks for recommending!


  3. I sometimes have trouble sleeping too. What helps me is to think of sleeping as a period of time where you just don’t think. It is actually something I look forward to haha, because after a long stressful day it is a time you can just forget about everything 🙂

    I hope to get one of your books! They look great and interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also posted this on your “September Slump.” Not sure if I should have cross-posted it. Anyway, here we go!

    Sleepless nights, claustrophobic thoughts of airplane travel, and the impending doom of an IV needle being shoved into my throbbing vein all strangely conjure up a similar thought: FUCK! When faced with these, I go to one of two happy places.

    Sleepless nights – I think of my girlfriend (keep reading, it will pertain to you as well) on my right shoulder as she falls asleep. I always stayed awake until I knew she was asleep and only then would I follow. I think of her on sleepless nights. Single? Don’t know what it’s like to share a bed? Okay. Snuggle with a designated, special pillow. It is your soft, furry, warm kitty or doggie. Follow her slow, shallow, content breathing. Feel her peace. Feel her stillness. Feel her warmth. She is asleep. You deserve to be asleep also. Follow her. Sleep.

    Or, I regress to the happy days as a kid at my family’s beach by the shore. I’m a kid on the beach after lunch. My belly is full. I am sleepy. I am warm. Mom is next to me reading. I feel safe. I’m lying on my kid-size pop-belly under the umbrella. I feel the warm sea breeze and the kids, the seagulls, the radios, the motor boats all become one soothing sound. I sleep. At some point, Mom covers me with a beach blanket. I sleep more soundly.

    I use the same two imageries while on airplanes to fend off the feelings of enclosure and doom of a crash. I sleep. Before my routine IV needle gets shoved into my throbbing vein, I’m on the beach. The RN’s hands are warm rays of sun and the blanket draped over me while I sit in the chair is a beach towel that Mom put on me at the beach because Mom always knows what to do. The needle stab… I didn’t feel it. The shitty, frightening airplane flight, I slept through it. The sleepless night, vanish.

    September sucks for you. That’s October for me. Most things bad happened to me in October. So when Oct came, so did the shitty pain from the past and it ruined my October and then my November and then my December and by January, I was a shitty, miserable mess with S.A.D. in fill force and a bottle clung to my hand. Not this year.

    I just entered month eight of a 12-Step program. My psychiatrist recommended “Winter Blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder. What is it and How to Recovery From It” by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. Copyright 1998. 1998?!?! I said the same thing. I was assured even though the list of meds and info on light boxes are outdated, but the theories of SAD are still solid.

    Tomorrow is the anniversary of my marriage from over a decade ago. A marriage that I never should have gone through with. A marriage that ended with me feeling destroyed. A marriage that took three years of therapy to straighten out my head from. It is also the birthday of a good friend who was at my wedding that I regret going through with. So instead of 2 x 4’ing myself from my decision (beating myself up) from so many years ago, I CHOOSE to think of tomorrow as the anniversary of my friend’s big birthday bash in a barn (yes, my reception was in a 200+ year old barn!).

    This is also the time of year that brings me back to October 2015 when I had to end my relationship with the woman that I spoke of earlier. Instead of reliving the anger associated with being forced to part ways with her, I CHOOSE to celebrate the time we spent together on the beach by her Cape house and hiking in the Colorado mountains.

    “You will deal best with the [negative] anniversary if you acknowledge its power over you, the impact it has on you, and recognize that as the anniversary passes, the pain associated with the memory will diminish in its intensity.” Rosenthal, p223.

    As we say in A.A., “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. Will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.” AA pp 82-83.

    I hope this helps to make all of your future Septembers not be sucky.

    I hope this helps you sleep. You deserve it.

    Be well!

    Liked by 1 person

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