Sleeping is crucial for my mental and physical health. If I don’t get enough sleep I don’t feel well at all. Not only do I feel tired, but I also lose control of managing my emotions and anxiety.
Having an anxiety disorder makes getting enough sleep very important. Yet having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in addition makes my need for the correct amount of sleep absolutely vital. All of that combined makes this part of my life quite a challenge for me.
Preferably I like to go to bed at a set time each night, which is 10:30pm. I’m unable to fall asleep earlier than that, though whenever I have to go to bed later (or have a sleepless night after going to bed at my normal time) I feel extremely anxious and even panicked. Also of course, it’s much harder to doze off when a person is feeling that way.
Prior to being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the age of 16 (for a variety of my general characteristics), my family and doctors were unsure as to why I had an intense fear of it becoming light after not having a cycle of sleep. The closer it gets to sunrise the more panicked I get, and (despite assuring myself repeatedly that it’s impossible) I feel convinced that I’ve lost my ability to sleep, and that eventually my body will get so tired that I’ll suddenly drop dead. While I’m in that panicked state I always believe that this will take around three days.
With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder a person’s thoughts/rationality say one thing and their feelings say another, especially when they are in a state of concern or panic.
Though I’m able to feel relieved when I have an experience of a brief dream before waking up a minute later. This reminds me that I can still sleep, and shortly afterward I usually find that I get a few more solid hours prior to getting out of bed for breakfast. Now that I take medication that feeling remains until I again am still awake at a time when I should be asleep. Previously I would always panic as my bedtime again approached the following night.
Yet with therapy and medication I don’t feel that way until around 1am. A couple of years ago a doctor tried to take me off my medication, but I had to go back on it when all of my intense and uncontrollable feelings of panic returned (in regards to sleep and other issues). Thus I continue to take Olanzapine while working on my therapy regularly. Overall that’s now going very well.
Strangely in addition to feeling worried about not sleeping, the other half of me is worried about falling asleep whenever I can not take Anafranil, which is for chronic Sleep Paralysis (where my body doesn’t wake up at the same time that my mind does, and I’m thus paralysed for a short while). Yet with Anafranil I don’t have to worry about that for now.
What does still keep me awake is a constant flow of random flashbacks from my life bombarding me in the dead silence. With nothing to distract my mind from them, I can not sleep at all. Though on the vast majority of nights I’m now able to fall asleep by distracting my mind with having soft music playing. Classical music is usually my preference because the words in lyrics can each trigger even more involuntary flashbacks. Also, with classical music I’m able to purposely put my own relaxing words and story to the songs.
Despite having the occasional sleepless night (which my mum reminds me that everyone gets from time to time) I’m now having very little night time problems. Everything that I have set in place is working very well, and I’m faithful that it will remain doing so until the end of my life.
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