Insomnia and Anxiety, Anxiety and Insomnia
It's all really just circular, right?
Let me explain.
I live with insomnia and struggle with anxiety. I struggle with insomnia and live with anxiety. My anxiety often prevents me from falling asleep at night, and my insomnia often increases my evening anxiety.
Living with both conditions is currently the bane of my existence.
I have lived with generalized anxiety disorder for more than a decade
However, this past year, several specific traumas have left me with a much higher level of daily anxiety, along with panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
What does this mean? It means that I've been living in a state of hypervigilance for nearly 6 consecutive months. It means that I've changed my routine medications to include something daily for anxiety, and that's still not enough. I've also used my "as needed" anxiety medication daily, if not several times a day (as prescribed), in order to function as a human being. It means that any energy reserves I previously had now must be dedicated to daily living and to the mental and physical work required to move forward in healing.
It means that I feel exhausted all of the time
Constantly, I'm never not completely drained, but I also feel like every moment I'm awake, I'm on high alert – protecting myself in case something else should happen.
My insomnia has always stemmed from an overactive mind and a combination of other factors, so being in a hypervigilant, fully anxious state from the moment my eyes open in the morning until they finally drift closed at night means that the evenings are a time which causes me additional stress.
Resting is HARD
Turning my mind off is nearly impossible. Turning my feelings off is actually impossible. When I'm more tired than I feel like I've ever been, I lie in bed and feel my heart race, my brain fleeting through all of the possible things that could challenge me and all of the things that have hurt me. It's the most draining experience I can describe.
Recently, with my head firmly planted on my pillow and my phone plugged in and charging across the room, I felt an extremely icky, almost fearful panic.
My anxiety has space and time to run free
Was my anxiety preventing me from sleeping, or was my insomnia making my anxiety louder than it needed to be? And would it even be something I'd be able to determine, alone or with the help of my doctors?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is that it doesn't really matter. My anxiety and the physical manifestations I experience because of it are almost definitely preventing me from relaxing and drifting into dreamland. My insomnia likely predisposes me to struggles at bedtime, giving my anxiety space and time to run free instead of tucking in for the night alongside me.
How am I managing this?
Carefully. There are several members of my "support team" right now walking me through the challenges of this season, and they all have valuable input. First, there's my therapist. I couldn't do life's hardships without her. Then, there's my psychiatrist, who manages my mental health, my medication for anxiety, and my medication for sleep. And finally, there's my primary care physician, the one who keeps all the pieces organized and serves as a resource for everyone.
Medication has been the key to management in the last few months for both my anxiety and my insomnia. Tinkering with doses, trying different medications or medication schedules – it's all in the hopes that one day, nighttime won't be so gosh darn vulnerable and challenging for me.
If you struggle with both anxiety and a sleep disorder, I'd love to hear how you manage both below.
How often does someone offer you unsolicited advice on your condition?