When Anxiety and the Pillow Strike As One

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I’ve mentioned a few times that my anxiety attacks hit predominantly at night.  I may get a few small ones throughout the day if I’m pressured or startled, but those are becoming easier to handle and rarer.  That’s because I have more to distracted myself with and enough time to work through the attack.  The situation feels more dire when you’re trying to fall asleep and know you have to get up in a few hours.

This tends to cause a domino effect as well.  I’ll have a night where the anxiety makes it very difficult to sleep and I end up with only 2-3 hours.  This leaves me tired and more susceptible to attacks during the day.  I have to continue trudging through until night hits and then I start panicking that it’s going to happen again.  This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy type of thing.  Usually, it continues for a few days until I have one night where I’m too exhausted to think and I don’t have to wake up before 8 the next day.  It’s not the best level of sleep, but it gives me enough of a recharge to get a few days and nights of low anxiety.

Getting these attacks at night is one of the things that led me to thinking this is an anxiety issue.  It was strange that I’d only have these happen at the end of the day instead of the periods where I was the most active.  At first, I thought it was my body releasing all of the tension, but then it came with odd ideas.  The most common was this fear that I was about to relax to the point of death because I’d pushed myself too far and it was only adrenaline that was keeping me alive.  You’d think this would be a clue that I wasn’t dealing with an entirely physical issue, but I’m an author whose imagination has always run away from him.  I actually thought this was logical without being realistic.  Too me a few months to admit that this was probably stemming from something other than me wanted to come up with a unique reasoning.  Still took a little longer to wrap my head entirely around the issue and that required a really bad attack.

I’ve wondered why nighttime is worse for anxiety and I’m betting it stems a lot from how we drop our guard when going to bed.  It isn’t only a reduction in physical alertness, but we allow our minds to wander.  We expect dreams to appear and focusing on what happened during the day or in the future causes us to stay up.  So, we try to go blank or create a soothing dream that puts us under.  It also opens up the doorway for any anxiety that has been looking for an entrance.  This isn’t an immediate shot too.  You start thinking about something negative (can even be an errand you missed) and it gets the ball rolling.  Next thing you know, you’re having trouble breathing and wondering if you’re having a heart attack.

Perhaps the thing I hate most about the nighttime attacks is that they’re a lot harder to stop.  I can’t put on the TV or music without waking my wife.  Most of my friends are already asleep, so I can’t chat with them.  I have an app with small games, but you can only do so many Word Searches and Sudoku before they lose their appeal.  Wandering the Internet on my phone while sitting in the bathroom isn’t much better.  There’s a lot of negativity out there, which compacts the situation.  I try to find funny web comics like ‘Fowl Language’, but you eventually have to crawl back into bed.  Otherwise, you hit that cycle.  Half the time, the anxiety comes back once I try to sleep again and I’m too worn down at that point.  It becomes just me staring at the ceiling and trying to zone out until I pass out.

Thankfully, things are getting better with the night attacks.  Small steps in the right direction are all I can do.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to When Anxiety and the Pillow Strike As One

  1. I’m lucky in that my hubby actually likes having something to listen to at bed time too. Plus, he can sleep through almost anything, so me putting something on to listen to after he’s asleep isn’t an issue. I find it helps, because I can focus on the thing I’m listening to instead of the things in my head.

    Is it an issue for your wife? Or would she be willing to allow you to do the same? I mean, have you tried talking to her about it? She might understand and be happy for you to have something to listen to at bed time.

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    • My wife can sleep through almost anything, but sound travels through the vents. So, those downstairs will hear me, investigate, and it causes a whole thing. Another issue here is that listening to music requires that I wear headphones, which I then have to put away. So, there’s some activity instead of me falling asleep with the sound on, which means I wake up enough that the anxiety comes back.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    What a difficult journey. 😢 I hope you can get the rest you need. Can’t blame you for wanting to avoid places, during those times, where negativity happens. (Facebook, I’m looking at you.)

    I wind up playing a round of Plants vs. Zombies when insomnia kicks in. The sound can be turned down on that game.

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  3. Life seems to be most productive in baby steps. That constant slow trudge gets a lot done. Hope your baby steps lead you to a better place soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chuck says:

    Hi Charles,
    In my opinion, most individuals that suffer from anxiety find it escalated during the night. Either falling asleep or staying asleep. Mine is staying asleep. Most nights I wake during the night to pee. When I return to bed, my brain won’t shut down. What’s worse, some music I’ve heard that day will start looping in my head. My doctor gave me what he called sleeping pills, but when I looked them up on the internet, they were for anxiety. Now, if I experience the anxiety, I take a pill and within minutes, I’m sleeping. I never had this problem before I did my chemo four years ago. My doctor said it was just another of the side effects of the chemo. I’m glad that the chemo worked, so if I have to take a pill to sleep most nights, I do and don’t worry about it.
    You might want to talk to your doctor about meds if you can’t handle it on your own. What you are doing by writing this post weekly might just be the answer. You might write your way through the anxiety and come out the other side with less stress. Keep the post coming and I will keep reading and commenting.

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    • Ever since I got my sleep apnea mouthpiece, I’ve been able to stay asleep. So, I’m more in the ‘falling asleep’ camp. I’ve considered sleeping pills for rough nights and tried one once. It went pretty badly because I woke up groggy and highly irritable. Threw my entire sleep schedule off. I tend to have weird reactions to anything anything stronger than tylenol and benodril.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. C.E.Robinson says:

    Charles, I agree with Chuck. Keep blogging and write your way through the anxiety. Support from bloggers could reduce the stress somewhat. 📚 Christine

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  6. I think you should look into some Bluetooth earphones. This would keep the sound with you.

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  7. Brooke says:

    I can totally relate to this. Thanks for sharing, makes us all feel like we aren’t alone!

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  8. Jennie says:

    I wonder if music would help, Charles. It can trigger so many emotions, and you could play what makes you feel good. Just a thought.

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  9. Jennie says:

    Small steps add up to bigger steps.

    Like

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