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Author Topic: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.  (Read 299 times)

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Offline nakmac

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Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« on: January 03, 2014, 11:47:17 AM »

Hi. I am totally new to this forum so i hugely appreciate if anyone takes the time to read and reply to this. I joined because in the past i have read through the forum to reassure myself i am not alone in my situation, but now i am suffering from a bout of anxiety that i'm really struggling to cope with. I've had general anxiety for most of my adult life - it always seems to skip around to different subjects and issues and with the help of my family i have got used to dealing with it when it crops up. I'm struggling this time.

Forgive the long post.

I have just finished a PhD that took four years and the last year was the most stressful thing i have ever endured. Thankfully it all went very well and i became a Doctor of Literature. But just when life should have been good - i.e the weekend after i passed, a really odd bout of anxiety hit. This was a about four weeks ago.

It started when, out of nowhere, i woke up in the night from a dream that i dont actually remember being particularly scary, but i woke up and within a few seconds my heart was racing, a feeling of nausea etc. When this has happened in the past i have always had a bit of an 'off' day the next day and then moved on, but this time it feels like some very odd thoughts have 'infected' my brain in some way. I remember thinking about a horror film i once saw in which people die in their dreams and i started worrying that would happen to me, that my dreams where in some way 'real' and could harm me. Every night since i have been increasingly worried about going to bed, not so much because i think this fear is real - but because if i have a nightmare again (which i have been doing often) then maybe i will start to believe it IS real and will go mad. Does this make any sense?

It is terrifying on two levels then, 1) i am scared that my dreams are going to hurt me and 2) i am scared about how crazy this thought is. Whenever i have had intrusive thoughts in the past i have looked online and found someone else with the same sort of thing - this time i feel totally alone though and that i cant admit these stupid fears to anyone else.

Yesterday i went to the docs and got some Nitrozapame to help me sleep and went to bed sleepy and feeling optimistic at midnight (early for me). I woke up around 5 after a fairly vivid and disturbing dream and again, after a few seconds, anxiety hit. I spent the next hour or so in that state where everytime i started to drift off i would have a really weird thought and lurch awake again. Then i fell asleep and had more vivid dreams. In one of them i was kicked in the shin and cut my head and remember feeling pain, and when i woke up i immediately checked my body and found a bruise in the exact place on my leg. This totally sent my head crazy and i feel back to square one. One part of my brain knows this is all caused by anxiety but the other part seems to be working against it.

I'm totally aware of how all this sounds like babbling, but i just feel like i have been in this inescapable bubble for weeks and weeks and cant remember what it feels like to feel 'normal'. How can i control my anxiety if it is about something as uncontrollable as a dream? Again i'm sure you have all heard this before but if anyone has ever had a similar fear about their sleep/dreams then i'd really appreciate not feeling alone in this.

Thank you all so much.
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Offline lexie2006

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Re: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 02:28:54 PM »
I understand its all very stressful but u want to try talking to a therapist and meditation it helps
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Offline doogle2

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Re: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 05:23:31 PM »
To an exhausted mind/brain nothing much makes sense, normal things can seem over-whelming, usual things can seem strange, etc. however it all boils down to the brain/mind being exhausted through over work and constant worry - its just not working right anymore you've over-heated it and it needs to cool down, you've burnt it out and it needs to rest/repair/rejuvenate/recover but then the next anxious thought comes in and off it goes again - whirring, whirring, until it overloads and BREAKS (start giving you weird thoughts, dreams, signals, symptoms, etc.).

You're almost certainly burnt out from your efforts gaining your PhD, your brain needs a good old rest - if you can give it  a few weeks, maybe a month or so and you'll soon start coming around again.

In the meant time here's some links I think you may find useful.


http://www.anxietyzone.com/index.php/topic,77015.msg437183.html

http://www.anxietyzone.com/index.php/topic,53901.0.html
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The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish ~ Evelyn Waugh

Offline nakmac

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Re: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 08:26:47 PM »
Thank you both for replying.

I am having better days recently, where i am able to get these ridiculous thoughts more in perspective. But then it will suddenly snap back. I feel like my thoughts are trapped inside a box and if i could just break through and see them from the outside then they would all diminish and seem stupid - but often i cant.

What is really freaking me out actually is that i don't really feel TOTALLY anxious - just uneasy. If i felt really anxious and panicky then i could rationalise the 'craziness' as being a consequence of that. But because my anxiety feels quite low key, and yet i still have these thoughts, i think i must be going mental. I think i have lost all perspective and memory of a normal way to think in just four weeks. Basically, most of the time i know i am overthinking and obsessing - but sometimes (like tonight) i just feel confused, unhappy and uneasy.

I wish i could give my thoughts a good 'clean out' and get back to being me. Maybe it is the PhD but i feel so angry and so cheated because this is supposed to be a time for me to celebrate.

Anyway, i don't want to stray into self pity. And thank you for the links. I shall read them.
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Offline Chilly

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Re: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 09:17:27 PM »
I have also been struggling with that same "low key" anxiety for the past couple weeks. I think it's scary because it's not what we are used to as far as anxiety is concerned. For instance, I'm used to having an intrusive thought, it freaks me out, and then I move on to the anxiety attacks and panic. Lately, it's been more like I have these intrusive thoughts, I realize it should freak me out, but it doesn't. Then I feel anxious because I start wondering why I'm not scared of such terrible thoughts, but instead of getting a panic attack, the numb "low key" anxiety hangs over my head all day. It's terrible. You're not alone on that one. I'm hoping the less dramatic emotional reactions are a sign of getting better, but I'm not sure.
The dream thing, I can't say that  I've been worried I would die within a dream, but it's certainly not outside of anxiety's jurisdiction. If it's scary or worrisome, our anxiety will grab hold and inflate the situation. I imagine the fear of being physically harmed while in a dream is common (as you know, they did make a whole horror franchise out of the idea). That said, I have had some off putting dreams lately. Like yours, they are not particularly scary ones, but strange enough to make me anxious over the meaning. In truth, it's probably just the stress that comes with anxiety. We make it worse by ruminating on the possibilities.
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Offline doogle2

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Re: Anxiety about sleep - PLEASE read.
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2014, 03:55:19 AM »
I feel so angry and so cheated because this is supposed to be a time for me to celebrate.

This is one of the big problems with anxiety - we have expectations and then tear ourselves apart when they can't be met.

Let me clarify what I mean by "burnt out" by attaining your PhD. You have said yourself that "the last year was the most stressful thing I have ever endured" and that is going to leave an aftershock. Your brain has been working to its limits for a sustained period and more than likely the only thing that kept you going over the final few weeks/months was the thought of the finishing line.

Well your expectation of reaching that finishing line was one of celebration and good times, but in reality you are that exhausted, that drained after pushing yourself that hard that you have nothing left in the tank. And your poor brain, that now only wants a rest, is now being berated/condemned rather than congratulated for getting you there.   

Let me try to explain in another way. It's like you are running a marathon and after about 20 miles you are starting to fatigue - but the idea of the finishing line is pushing you on. So you dig deep and tap your "reserves" to get through those final miles. With a mile to go you are "shattered", but with iron willpower you force yourself over that finishing line, determined to get what you set out to achieve. Finally you cross the line and collapse in a heap exhausted. Now you achieved what you wanted, but do you want to get up and party? Or do you want to go to bed for a week?

You are burnt out mentally, you have nothing left to give, you have dug deep and tapped your resources and now you need to rest your brain - but instead, because you are seeing symptoms you don't like, experiencing things you did not EXPECT, you are still taxing your brain hard - worrying, doubting, searching for clues, questioning your sanity, etc. When the answer is simply to rest up and switch your brain off for a while, whilst it recovers from its marathon.

I have seen quite a few post graduates on here suffering from the same thing. Our brains, just like our bodies, can only endure so much and once they are taken beyond their limits then they begin to fail. When they do it does not mean they are now "broken" forever - but it does mean they need to rest in order to recover or to allow themselves to repair, recover, regain their composure, etc. but because it is the mind, the brain, people tend to think that they can keep on pushing, pushing, pushing and that there is something wrong with them if they can't.

People can accept this quite quickly when its their bodies they are talking about, but they can't seem to accept it the same when it is their minds - they can't seem to grasp that their minds can get "broken" - but they do. Now they don't break as such, but they do get out of balance, they get stuck producing chemicals they don't need any more, neural pathways have been bypassed, adrenal systems have been tapped into, etc in order to push you that bit further when you demanded it from yourself and now part of your brain still thinks its running that marathon, it has got stuck, but another part knows that it's over, so to speak, and so you will experience some weird crap until your brain/mind balances itself out again after this monumental effort it has put in for you - in order to get you what you wanted - but the aftermath of which you didn't expect.   

You've got to understand your body, brain and mind and KNOW what you are doing to it to understand anxiety. Once you accept that brain now needs a rest, allow it have one and accept that it may shows signs of "malfunctioning" in the meantime, then you will be OK. If you keep resisting the signs of malfunctioning and therefore keep your brain tense, in action, on RED-ALERT (which incidentally is why you are feeling a low key uneasiness), etc.  then unfortunately you will suffer from the anxiety of that.

Hope it helped  :action-smiley-065:
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The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish ~ Evelyn Waugh

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