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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Need An Off Switch

Sleep is one of my favorite activities!  I am not a pleasant person if I have not gotten enough sleep, especially in the morning.  The problem with having an anxiety disorder is getting to sleep can be quite the challenge. I am not one of those people who can just jump into bed and fall asleep. I have a crazy process to get myself to sleep.

Bedtime would be amazing if I could just shut my brain off.  It does not matter how tired I am the moment I get into bed and the quiet starts; my mind starts racing.  For the most part these thoughts are harmless and I can usually get myself settled.  The problem is when things seem to get out of control.

There have been many nights when I head to bed and all those things I have not wanted to deal with start creeping up in my mind.  Something as simple as wondering why I haven't heard from someone in a while can quickly start to blow up into so much more in my mind.  It doesn't seem very long from that point that my mind turns very negative.

A variety of things can happen at this point.  I usually text one of my poor friends with what is usually a very self deprecating claim. My friends have been amazing at talking me down and usually getting me to focus on what is really bothering me.  Every day I am amazed how they have stuck by my side and never texted me back, "get a life".

The harder nights are when I become very irrational.  I can not get out of my mind and more often then not I start having physical symptoms.  I remember the first time this happened.  I had always believed that a panic attack was when you felt like you couldn't breath.  I did not get those symptoms. Instead I had the strangest sensation in my leg. At the time I did not realize it was a panic attack.

My legs felt as if they were being electrocuted and the only way to stop the feeling was to run.  So I found myself running through my apartment at four in the morning. I'm sure the people downstairs loved me.  Once I realized this was not going to work I sat in a ball crying and rocking back and forth.  I then did the only thing I knew could possible help, pray.  Thankfully it wasn't long and God calmed me and I was able to sleep.

This happened several years ago and since then I have learned a lot about myself and anxiety.  I now have a routine that I do to try and avoid these restless nights.  Yes they do still happen on occasion but I am usually able to calm myself with prayer and or oils.  I have not taken medication for anxiety attacks for a couple months now.  Not that I am against medications, I recently had an allergic reaction for the one I was using.

So what does my night time routine look like?  First, I really try to avoid my electronics right before I go to bed.  This is one that I struggle with the most.  I love information and for some reason because I can not switch my brain off; I think of the weirdest things I want to 'google' minutes before I should be falling asleep.  If I had an apartment or house I would probably avoid having them in the room all together.

Second, I found things to calm myself and my mind.  I found that I need either a fan or music playing.  I can focus on those sounds and not what is going on in my mind.  I also apply two to three of the Young Living oils on my feet.  Cappy also enjoys having these put on at bed time.  I sleep with no socks because as my friends and family describe it, I do a weird cricket thing with my feet until I fall asleep,  You can laugh, I know it is weird.

Last if I'm still struggling I put on the sleep mask; the darkness helps me to further shut down my mind.  If you struggle with sleep I really recommend looking online and following the recommendations.  Find something that works for you.  I think when we get appropriate sleep we have better relationships and make better choices during the day.