Here’s something I recently thought about (recently as in 20 minutes ago at 4am in the morning, whilst removing myself from the bedroom so as not to keep my poor wife awake, so she can be a functioning teaching assistant and adult tomorrow at her school).
It’s about a classic (I think) symptom of anxiety. Something that many sufferers will recognise in themselves.
I find myself replaying things I have said or talked about with others in my head. Mostly at 3 to 4am at night, when I become my own kangaroo court, going over the evidence why I’m a weirdo or bullshitter or mentally deficient because I’d waffled in a job interview and gone off on a tangent or said something dumb to a friend or uttered some micro conversational infringement that many ‘normal’ people would shrug off as just a quirk of their character but an anxiety sufferer will hold over their own head, perhaps repeatedly.
If there was a manifesto for anxious insomniacs I imagine it would start something like:
“We, the anxious people of the small hours who keep our partners from getting a full night’s sleep and who haunt our own lounges in the dim light of the moment that joins not-morning with not-night o’clock. We, the hidden wrestlers of our own perceived shortcomings. We, the tireless thinkers who are held hostage by the product of our own musings.”
There is no stone left unturned in the dodgy Cinemax replay of the last 24 hours projected inside my head, where I am forced to watch, an unwilling audience member until the show ends or the judge and jury stop their deliberations and I can stop sweating what I said or what I could of said or what I didn’t say but should of said.
But you can break the pattern.
You can have more control of your anxiety, even at 3am. There are ways to flip the switch, tell the projector to fuck off, stop the endless cross examination and go and join the sleeping again.
Here’s some methods I’ve used:
• Force yourself to count to 10 as you breathe deeply on each count. If you find yourself thinking of something else, return back to 1. Repeat until you fall asleep.
• Imagine something really boring like broccoli, or a potato. Now concentrate on that and that alone. It gets so boring you fall asleep.
• Visualise your anxiety as a twitching, amorphous thing. Say to it “I SEE YOU”(I refer to my earlier post “I see you Mara“) and just focus on it. In the end even your anxiety will get bored of being watched and fall asleep.
• Get up. Go downstairs and lie on sofa. Write or read. Then fall asleep.
Regardless of whether you try the above techniques and find they help, if you see yourself in these words above, I’m with you.
Let’s try and be a little easier on ourselves because we’re only people, fallible and complicated and all beautiful in some way. Let’s give ourselves a break sometimes.
Just know that you’re not alone.