Sleep… I used to be a great sleeper as a kid. I slept through a tremor in the early 80s and napped through the high winds of Hurricane Gloria. Heavy sleep was a blessing bestowed on to me back then. I should’ve treasured it. Instead, back then, I was a typical kid and hated to act of “going to sleep”. I deeply miss it now.
Going to sleep is still something I hate but for completely different reasons. As a child, I thought I would miss out on something while shutting my eyes. Now I fear it. The fear stems from over a year ago when every little sound alerted me awake even with the aid of ear plugs and medication.
Is that the heater going on again?
What was that going down the street, a car, a truck?
Is Tyler awake again?
Ugh, the neighbor’s dog is barking again?
What was the creak in the house?
All of these questions fed the Anxiety that was already present in my life. This companion that grabbed hold of my hand and wouldn’t let go. I tried to meditate. I tried to think nice thoughts. I tried sleeping in the basement and while the latter muted most noises, I was presented with sleeping with the cat, a nocturnal fuzzy beast, whom I love dearly, but she wouldn’t let me sleep.
It’s been over a year and while I have made amazing strides in my recovery from my Severe Depression, my Anxiety is still holding on, digging it’s nails into my shoulders.
I am a creature of change when it comes to the world around me, but when it comes to myself and my routine, I need consistency. I mean I NEED consistency. I plan days, weeks, months in advance. If there is an immediate change in my daily routine, a huge anxiety attack ensues. My sleep routine has not changed much in the last decade. The deep sleeper I was melted away when I graduated college and started the real world. That is when I started to sleep with ear plugs. These tiny foam cylinders created perfect silence for me. I would roll them between my fingers and plunge them down into my ears. In seconds the world around be would become quiet and in some way, this affected my brain too.
But, not all ear plugs are created equal!
I went to the store over a week ago to buy more ear plugs. I only get 1 brand, Rite Aid’s brand. Dragging my daughter with me, we roamed the aisles of Rite Aid until we found the ear plugs. I gasped when I found them. What the heck are these?! Panic began to rise in me. Rite Aid changed their ear plugs. Sophia looked at me wanting to know what was wrong. While this seems to be something so minute and pointless to most, is a BIG DEAL to someone who suffers from Anxiety and relies on these things for sleep, a process that already invokes fear. I purchased them telling myself they were probably the same.
They weren’t. That night I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t get these damn things to fit correctly in my ears. I kept hearing the heat turn on. I kept hearing the cars go down my street. I was being tortured by my own brain. The next day, I walked around work like a nauseated zombie. I had 2 pairs of my blessed ear plugs left before I would be cursed with no sleep, which would spiral into panic attacks and eventually Depression again. Earlier that morning, since I couldn’t sleep, I roamed the search entry of Ear Plugs on Amazon finding the original ear plugs, the ones Rite Aid used to base theirs off of… good old Flents. I bought 100 pairs.
My sleep for the last week has been a rotation of good and bad. Last night as I realized I would have to delve into the new 100 pairs for next day, my anxiety grew. My deeply appreciated Lunesta couldn’t battle the strong beast my Anxiety was. What if these don’t work? What the heck would I do then? After attempting sleep for an hour, while my thoughts wrecked havoc in my brain, my breaths began to get short. It was time to get up and do something. It was 11pm. I would not get my 8 hours of sleep the Lunesta needed.
My Anxiety won… over ear plugs.
I realize how petty this sounds. Your average typical person would not get panic attacks over ear plugs. Logically, I feel like an idiot, eventually my body will adjust. But, when you suffer from Anxiety, when you live with an evil twin that wants the worst for you, even the smallest thing can wind up being huge. I can’t just stop worrying about my ear plugs just like I can’t just stop fearing “going to sleep.” One day it will get better, but for now, I have learned to embrace my Anxiety, it is a part of me. If that means getting anxious over petty things, that is how it will be.