On Mental Health

Anxiety-Induced Insomnia

The anxious voices inside my head have disrupted my sleep pretty severely for the last several nights. The last two nights in particular have been really bad. It’s like if you have loud neighbors and you just keep tossing and turning, trying various positions to cover your head with a pillow to muffle the noise, or trying various noise cancellation devices to drown it out, and failing over and over and over again. That was me the last two nights but the sounds WERE ALL IN MY HEAD.

There’s three phases of distraction I move through with podcasts or videos or something when my anxiety is keeping me awake:

Phase 1: Not distracting enough to silence the voices in my head
Phase 2: Distracting just enough to silence the voices so I can sleep
Phase 3: Too distracting so now I’m awake and focused on the distraction

The target area is Phase 2 which is basically a microscopic thin line that I’ve been unable to hit for the last two nights. I’ll try a new podcast or TV show or brain game and it will be Phase 1, Phase 3, Phase 1, Phase 3, Phase 1, Phase 3, until I finally give up and make coffee for the day because I can’t quite find that sweet spot in Phase 2.

Some of the voices in my head are justified and/or expected to keep me awake. I have a loved family member who is not well and worrying about her the rest of my family makes me toss and turn, I also hung out with new people yesterday and my typical “did I make a good impression” anxiety voices are raging around and they’re pretty typical and so I don’t berate myself too much about them.

But then I’m also overanalyzing every chance encounter from yesterday and playing it over and over because suddenly I’m worried that these random people are thinking about me when LOGICALLY I know they’re not but that doesn’t stop my brain from cycling through thoughts at 2am like, “Did I walk away too fast? Did that offend her? Was I too loud? Was I embarrassing to that person?”

This is why I find socializing EXHAUSTING. It’s like running a marathon and feeling sore for the next week. I traveled to visit Family on Friday so I spent too much time worrying about how I interacted with each of them and then I did our big Pride Parade on Saturday and interacted with a LOT of new people and suddenly those two big things have made me sore from social anxiety and I can’t shut off my brain from wishing I had been less loud, or more considerate, or smarter, or funnier, or kinder.

But hopefully, just like the muscle fatigue fades a few days after a big race, this social fatigue will pass too and I’ll sleep again. I’ll probably make an appointment with my doc anyway, just so I can maybe have a sleep aid for nights like the last two because my mental health really declines when I don’t have sleep. When I’m REALLY sleep-deprived, my ability to turn off those voices in my normal daytime life decreases so then my anxiety is at a 10 all day because it takes a well-rested Kim to practice her normal methods for dealing with anxiety. And of course, when you’re anxiety is at a 10 all day then sleep is just never attainable and the cycle of anxiety and insomnia is really REALLY difficult to stop without medical intervention in the form of sleep aids.

Until then, I’ll do my best to make it through today (when I have another social function with family which is going to add social anxiety fuel to the mental health fire) and maybe try melatonin or benadryl tonight until I have something better from my doctor.

1 thought on “Anxiety-Induced Insomnia”

  1. I identify with this a lot, though I don’t think my social anxiety is as bad as yours. Melatonin, benadryl et al. always make me groggy but still sometimes awake.

    Warning: assvice incoming: My doc prescribed Trazodone, which is technically listed as an antidepressant but taken at night helps me just… shut my brain down to where I can sleep. It’s wonderful. I have no idea if it would be appropriate for you, but if your doctor mentions it, count me as one data point in favor of giving it a try.

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