The Sleepless Cycle of Depression

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 0:38 AM

I opened my mouth to yell but could not. There was something on the wall, something dark, something insidious, something that was moving. It was coming for me.

The Sleepless Cycle of Depression

I woke up in the center of the night and jolted up in bed, my eyes wide with fear, my heart pounding. I opened my mouth to yell but could not. There was something on the wall, something dark, something insidious, something that was moving. It was coming for me. I was shaking. Still I couldn't move, couldn't even breathe.

Six months earlier, I'd been diagnosed with my second episode of Major Depressive Disorder, comorbid anxiety. Before this episode, sleep had been sort of a secure refuge for me. I'd weird dreams, comic dreams - dreams about beautiful basketball players, dreams about amusement parks, dreams about becoming something big. My dreams were never a torment. I was never scared to go to sleep.

After the episode started, though, my dreams started to haunt me. Maybe these dreams were a reflection of the chaotic state of my mind. In the depths of night, I'd envision my friends leaving me, my teeth falling out, and my family rejecting me. My deepest fears manifested themselves in my secure refuge of sleep.

As a result, I began to fear the nighttime. These horrors made it challenging to fall asleep, number matter how much I desired it. I tried everything my doctors recommended: I turned off my devices early, changed the brightness settings on my phone and computer, stopped drinking caffeine altogether, and made my bed as comfortable as possible. Nothing helped. I'd lay there for hours, staring at the ceiling, my head clouded with thoughts. The following day, I'd drag myself out of bed, feeling more zombie than human. And worse, there were the few, isolated incidents of sleep paralysis, where I'd wake up while I was still dreaming. They were horrifying.

It was sufficient that the illness had messed with my brain. It was sufficient that the illness had seeped into to my appetite, my interests, and my energy. But did it have to disrupt with my sleep too? That blissful refuge of rest was stolen from me by depression.

However, I knew that sleep was necessary necessary to my wellbeing. I grew even more desperate. I could look how the exhaustion was affecting me, making me more irritable, more prone to sadness, and less motivated. I begged my Dr for medication, but the only kind they could prescribe was for anxiety and was addictive, so I could only get them on truly horrible nights. They helped, but even though I took them sparsely I soon ran out. It wasn't enough.

I'd to obtain my own non-prescription drugs and then melatonin supplements to be able to sleep normally. I think that the greater amounts of sleep I got truly helped me to improve. I felt better, stronger, and even happier.

Sleep, I think, isn't addressed sufficient in the context of mental illness. People speak about the emotional symptoms of mental illness, but frequently they ignore the physical symptoms, too - the fatigue, the lack of sleep, or the oversleeping. There were days when all I wanted to do was sleep, but I'd hit the bed and be unable to. It was torture. And yet, the doctors couldn't do anything for me.

Sleep helps the brain to restore and replenish. The more sleep I've been getting, the better I feel. And so I think it's necessary to emphasize the importance of sleep and sleep deprivation, particularly among the mental illness community. Sleep can be a blessing, but it can also be scary for those that have struggled with it love me. Please remember, there are ways of coping.

When I wake up from a nightmare now, I create myself breathe - in and out, in and out, a steady rhythm. I remind myself it'south not real. I remind myself that I'm safe. I think of excellent things. I count sheep. I do anything and everything to relax. Slowly but surely, I drift off to unconsciousness.

One day I'll wake up from a excellent dream. I'll not have been woken up throughout the night. I'll perceive refreshed, replenished, and happy. But until then, it'south nice, at least, to know I'm not alone.

Necessity assistance with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U. S., call 800-662-HELP (four thousand three hundred fifty-seven) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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