Finally Getting Some Zzz’s
How I am finally winning my 20-year long fight against insomnia
If you read any of my other posts, you will likely learn that I struggle with a few mental illnesses. Depression, PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia. If I had to rank them based on severity, I can’t even. All of them come together to torture me every second I breathe.
Insomnia has taken its toll on me since I was a kid. Some of the few memories I remember all involve me experiencing some type of horror during my sleep. Whether it is my mom lurking in my bedroom in the darkness or me suffering from sleep paralysis, they have all instilled a deep fear of the unknown in me.
For many years, I have had “sleep” patterns that kept me up.
I have slept walk at night so that I can specifically turn on the lights. I do this because of how scared I am in the dark.
I tend to get really close to falling asleep and then I just suddenly open my eyes, as if I feel someone is around me. I lift up my head, grab my iPhone and turn on the flashlight function. I then look around. This happens repeatedly throughout the night.
I have had extraordinarily detailed and visual dreams where I could see my mind transform really innocent characters into extremely scary figures. I have seen several innocent Pokemon (e.g. Togepi) be depicted as a monster lurking next to me. I have seen my own beautiful daughter (my 5’0 duck) become a deflated, dead being in my dreams.
I haven’t had one night of sleep with these continual horrors until recently. How? In the midst of the dark, on my bed, where I feel the most vulnerable to any monster that will scare the crap out of me, I am meditating. Don’t ask me how I can do it when I am already experiencing a panic attack. I have had to just learn to meditate because insomnia and all my other experiences during the night time have taken my life away. From holes in my teeth caused by teeth grinding to migraines that have lasted over a decade, I felt like I was losing my life to my PTSD at night.
This explains why I have been making tremendous progress in recovering from my mental illnesses these past few weeks: it’s either I give up altogether and do nothing, or I try my very hardest because what else can I do?
This fight against insomnia doesn’t just happen on my bed in the dark though. It happens hours before I even turn off the lights and lay on my bed. I tend to stay up until very late into the night (12AM to 2AM). My father is definitely sleeping by 8PM, my mother might be struggling with her own insomnia on her bed, and my brother is far away in another land even though he is just next door. Welcome to the mind of a person suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses - I may know someone is awake next to me or that I can dial 911 if something happens, but I can still panic.
But when everyone is doing their own thing and I feel like I am left alone, I can still panic. The lights in my bedroom are on when I am on my computer. It doesn’t mean that I’m not scared though. The images of the night time follow me throughout the day. My mind can create images of scary monsters as I am typing right now, thus making me fear what’s out there.
You know what’s worse? When those mental images and fear become physical experiences. When my heart starts to race and I feel anxiety rushing over me, I am left struggling with horrible pains. I feel like there’s a monster in the hallway, my body is making me feel both a stomachache and an emerging puke all at the same time, and I am panicking in the moment. A few months ago, I started to feel numbness in half my body. It resembled a stroke. When I noticed that my mental illnesses were getting out of control and causing irreversible bodily damages, I knew I had to do something.
That’s when I resorted to meditation. Emptying my mind takes me away from all of the horrifying images. It’s the only way I have found to help me get some zzz’s.