Friday, October 3, 2014

Insomnia, Again

My mother tells me that I was one of her best sleepers when I was a child. I slept heavily through the night for years, barely waking for anything. All the way through college, very little disturbed my slumber. Even the dorms weren't loud enough to wake me up. I would drop into bed around midnight and sleep straight through until morning.

Flash forward 15 years and I'm dealing with insomnia, again. Ever since I left college I've become a light sleeper. I wake at the tiniest noise. And often can't get back to sleep. Several years ago I went through a seven month period where I couldn't fall asleep. I was lucky if I got 4 to 5 hours a night. Now I can fall asleep, but I can't stay asleep. I'm waking up four or five times a night and struggle to get back to sleep each time. I stare at the ceiling or lay there listening to Jess sleep. I've started sleeping with earplugs in again but I think they're more of a problem right now than a solution.

The problem seems to be my anxiety. I've had social anxiety for most of my life but in the last decade it has started amplifying, leading to anxiety attacks and insomnia. It's confrontation that's the issue. My previous bout of insomnia stemmed from a neighbor who would have wild parties. The few times I went to tell him to keep it down didn't go well. Nothing physical or really all that mean, but it set me back. So I would lie awake on perfectly quiet nights waiting for the noise. This current bout is about a new neighbor. We share a wall and he's a true night owl. One night I woke at 4 a.m. to find him blasting music. Jess went over to ask him to turn it down and he did. He's been quiet and respectful every since. We've hardly heard a peep from him. But I can't seem to shake the anxiety. I lie awake listening for the music. And I can't sleep.

I'm writing this because I find that talking about my anxiety seems to make it less intense. I often journal about my anxiety attacks but I never really talk about them here. I know that I'm not alone with anxiety issues and certainly not alone in my fear of confrontation. It's right up there with fear of death and public speaking. Currently I avoid it at all costs. But I'm beginning to wonder if that is hurting me more than anything. Would I be less anxious if I felt that I was more in control? Would I still not be sleeping if I felt I could tell this kid what I thought? I know that it's all a matter of facing my fears, but that's hard to remember at 3 a.m., a time that's never been comfortable for this early bird. So I'll ask. Have you ever faced insomnia? What worked? What didn't?


Deena Nicole said...

Cat, I'm so sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I've had it before, too, and it's no fun. Like you, I am a light sleeper, and also like you, there have been a variety of different things that keep me up at night, including noisy neighbors, mice (as I know you recall!), and anxiety. While I can't offer a solution, as I haven't figured out my own anxiety, I can tell you that you are definitely not alone. I know it's hard to get on with daily life when you can't get enough sleep. For me, getting enough exercise always helps me sleep better, and sometimes a cup of tea helps me relax (wine, too!). I hope things improve very soon! Thinking of you! xo

Keith said...

Social Anxiety is such destructive bullshit and I wish it would stop. Mine manifests in other ways, though. I sleep like lumber.

Wish I had some good advice for you. Hang in there, dear.

Cat B said...

Thanks for the suggestions and the support, Deena! It's nice to know that I'm not alone. You certainly have had plenty of reasons to miss out on sleep. I'm sure you're happy your current place doesn't have mice, even if Frida would love them. I'm sure things will improve. But I'll sneak in a cup of sleepy tea to help it along. Again thanks!

Thanks Keith! I hope you never have to deal with insomnia. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But good to know I'm not alone on the social anxiety front. I hope it isn't too terrible for you. You are right, it needs to stop.