#128: Don’t panic

08 May

Sometimes I can’t fall asleep.  (I’ve never been someone who can sleep as soon as her head hits the pillow, so when I say I can’t fall asleep, I mean it’s at least an hour of lying there.)  The worst was when I was recovering from a sinus infection.  I had taken a generic version of Excedrin Migraine, which has caffeine in it, which would have been fine except for the fact that apparently I cannot handle caffeine.  I didn’t sleep at all the entire night.  I mean not at all.

There are times, when I’m lying in bed unable to fall asleep (or making toast, or relaxing on a beach, or breathing) when I have lots of thoughts constantly competing for attention in my little brain, and instead of dealing with them healthily, I end up focusing intently on one of them–usually the one I can do the least about at the moment–and just holding onto it for dear life.  For example, when I can’t fall asleep, the thought I can’t release is: What if I never fall asleep again, and I become this permanently zombie-like person, walking around in a daze because I’m so tired, forever, and you might as well write me off for the rest of eternity because I’ll never be a functioning member of society since sleep deprivation is a serious illness and I think I might need to cry now.

So last night, while I was lying awake in bed for at least 3 hours (somewhere around 2 hours in, I remembered I’d had a frappuccino earlier, which apparently in my body is akin to generic Excedrin Migraine), I thought I would panic.  I fully expected to start freaking out over the fact that I wasn’t going to get any sleep and would therefore be too tired to get my work done the next day, work that doesn’t even have a technical deadline but for some reason in my head cannot be delayed by even an hour to squeeze an afternoon nap in, because if I start with a nap, surely that one nap will turn into sleeping all day, and then I’ll sleep all night, and then I might as well just quit right now because I’ll never again be awake enough to participate in life.

But I didn’t.  I just continued to lie there quietly as I’d been taught by my mother so many years ago.  I repeated “sleep” over and over in my head with each breath in and each breath out (no one taught me that but I figured it couldn’t hurt).  And when I still wasn’t asleep at 3am, I was annoyed, and I was jealous of everyone else who was sleeping in the world, but I wasn’t panicking.

And because my body has no idea what to do with itself when it doesn’t panic, eventually, after about 4 hours or so of trying not to think about anything besides “sleep, sleep, sleep,” and inevitably failing miserably every minute but still refusing to give in to panic regardless of the instinct trying to conquer my exhausted existence, I fell asleep.

To sum up: No, I don’t want to meet for coffee.

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Health


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