I write a lot on here about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I write some about my experiences in therapy. Yet it wasn’t my anxiety or my depression that first sent me to therapy. It was insomnia.
Five years ago, the girl I was seeing at the time was concerned about how little I slept. So she pushed me to therapy where I learned about my real problems and started learning tools to manage them.
I’m still working on those tools. And, occasionally, I still have trouble sleeping. Usually it is the anxiety. You see, sometimes my anxiety presents itself as the need to review everything that happened that day and plan for everything that could happen tomorrow. It is the need to plan out conversations I ultimately won’t be able to control anyway. Sometimes I write a book in my head and it is the next great American novel, but unfortunately my brain thinks that when I want to sleep is the best time to come up with it and I am too damn tired to get up and write it down because the damn insomnia caused by my damn brain. And even though I know I’ll forget the entire thing the next morning, just as surely as I’ve forgotten A Midsummer Night’s Dream from grade school, I still feel the need to keep writing in my head.
Of course, normally when you have a bad bedfellow you can make it sleep on the couch. That is a little harder when the bad bedfellow is your own brain.
The sleep problems that come from depression are worse. I will toss and turn relentlessly, desperate for sleep that will be a sweet respite from the misery. Unfortunately, even though I have no energy and am physically and mentally exhausted, I often can’t sleep. Or if I do it is for no more than a few hours.
Fortunately, with the help of therapy, I’ve learned to manage my insomnia and normally I sleep much better than I ever did before I got help. Sometimes though, like last night, when my brain just wouldn’t shut up, I still struggle. And instead I kick my brain and myself to the couch to distract myself with TV until I am so tired my body finally takes over and I manage a few hours of sleep. I take some comfort though in knowing it was anxiety insomnia and not depression insomnia, which is so much worse, and that even the occasional sleepless night is still better than what I used to be. And sometimes that is all you can do.
Oh, and I take comfort in coffee, which I’ll need lots of today.