We all know it, everyone has some level or form of it, and honestly, it’s something you can’t just escape from. So lets start with my basics shall we? I’m about to get real candid and real with you all because why not? It’s a lot easier to have courage while I’m sitting behind a computer typing this all out and quite frankly its been a rough week. So hi everyone, my name is Victoria and I have some intense anxiety.
Like many, my anxiety tends to gear towards specific things. When I was younger, if I late to just about anything it felt as if the world was crumbling down around me. The idea of time in general was pretty much an insane fixation. I had to wake up at a certain time, eat at a certain time, get to school at a certain time, and most importantly go to bed and fall asleep by a certain time to ensure my sanity. This then led to the fixation of sleep. This is where things really started to get bad.
When it comes to my anxiety it tends to come in fixations. I fixate on one thing at a time and when I finally calm down and learn to move on (usually takes years), I suddenly find my fixation hasn’t really ended, if anything it has just refocused onto another aspect in my life.
Sleeping use to be my escape from it all. Whenever I felt stressed about anything, I would just look forward to going to bed and starting a new day. It wasn’t until one evening in middle school that things took a drastic turn. I don’t know what caused it but I remember the night still to this day. Usually I fell asleep within minutes, but for some reason on that night I simply couldn’t fall asleep. Now this happens to everyone, I know, but it had never really happened to me before until that moment. Sure I had had nights where I have woken up and had trouble falling back to sleep, but never a night where I was tired and literally could not drift off.
After a few tosses and turns, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom. That was when I ran into one of my parents and they told me it was late and asked why I was still up. I told them I couldn’t fall asleep and proceeded to the bathroom.
That night changed something and I honestly don’t know what. It was like a switch went off in my head.
The next day after being tired, it suddenly became apparent in my brain that if I didn’t fall asleep at a specific time I would be tired the next day and if I was tired the next day I wouldn’t be able to focus well in my classes, and if I couldn’t focus well in my classes, I wouldn’t do well. Or, if I was tired, my plans with friends would be ruined because I wouldn’t have as much fun because I was too tired to have fun. The spiral goes on and on until it became such a bad fixation, I would dread going to bed on a school night starting right after I woke up for school in the morning. Every school night led to dread.
Weekends were my saving grace. Due to my stress about falling asleep on week nights, my stress, low and behold, led to a great lack of sleep. I would stay up until 3 or 4am some nights when I had to be up at 6am for school because I would panic so much about having a sleepless night. Weekends were my recovery time where I would sleep until noon just to recover.
This then transformed into focusing on the bathroom. Don’t worry this isn’t going to be anything TMI related, but basically my mind refocused not to the actual falling asleep portion of the night, but the idea that if I even had the slightest feeling like I had to use the bathroom it would keep me from falling asleep.
This then led to yet ANOTHER nightly issue. I had a night where my fixation and feeling of having to constantly use the bathroom got so bad that I used the restroom up to 33 times before I fell asleep. I counted. So did my parents. They weren’t too happy about being kept up either as I’m sure you could assume.
I started basing my bathroom trips on the time of the night. I would have to go three times within the first half hour of falling asleep, then another time after that if I felt the need to and so on and so on. It just kept spiraling until I swear I barely even knew what sleep was anymore (and neither did my parents).
Soon my equally sleep deprived parents got to a breaking point of their own. They took away all the clocks in my room and any that lead to the bathroom. I started using other methods to tell the time because the obsession was so severe. Before my ipod touch, I would base the time off what shows were on the TV. If That’s So Raven was on it mean’t it was past midnight. So I started to try and avoid looking at the TV altogether, but I also could not sleep without the TV on.
I also had other habits that were on the OCD level that I could not sleep without doing. I had to always fall asleep on my left side with the pillows on a certain side. I also always had to have the blankets on me in a certain way. If anything was even slightly off, it led to me having to adjust and fix. But every time I adjusted and fixed, it led to me moving and deciding I needed to use the restroom and restart my attempt to sleep all over again. Which then led to me having to adjust myself properly in bed all over again when I returned from the restroom and once again it just kept spiraling.
All of this haunted me even well into my high school career. Basically into my senior year and even the start of college. It wasn’t until my first Disney College Program and learning that lack of sleep was part of the job that things slowly started to dissipate. Plus it was during that time frame that other things started to take main focus which will be in my next post.
This was such a dark time in my life and to some it might seem so ridiculous and so unnecessary, that it didn’t even make sense as to how I could let this detail consume me. I am writing this to show the world what living with severe anxiety is like and what kind of ridiculous things anxiety can take focus on. I am writing this thinking back to all the sleepless nights where my parents would beg me to stop getting up and waking them up every time I flushed the toilet in the bathroom. I am writing this thinking back to the nights I started sleeping on my parents floor as a sophomore in high school just because it somehow made me fall asleep better. I am writing this thinking back to all the sleepovers I left early because I was embarrassed for all of my bathroom trips I was making or the thought of not catching up on sleep over the weekend and suffering even more during the following school week. I am writing this in case there is someone else out there going through the exact same problem and thinking they are the only one. Because that was me once. Thinking I was the only one.
Honestly, I am hoping this new blog page will be therapeutic for me and I think it will be. I don’t know if anyone will even read this till the end but if you did and you are anxious about anything feel free to inbox me if you just need to let it out to someone. I’m always here to listen because I know how crazy people can think you sound when anxiety takes over a certain part of your life.
Today sleep is not as severe of an issue for me at all. There will still be nights where I will be right on the cusp of sleep only to get the thought in my head about having to use the restroom. There are still plenty of nights where I force myself out of my warm bed to use the restroom, but it will only be one or two times a night every once in a while instead of 33 every night. Time is still an issue for me in terms of needing to be severely early or exactly on time to things, but that is one thing that may be beneficial especially in my work life. Just have to work on the whole mental breakdown if I’m late portion but hey it’s a work in progress! Well that’s all for tonight focus. Bye!