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deathly afraid of sleep. help?

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deathly afraid of sleep. help?

Postby vilesmell » Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:21 am

hi all! i was recommended the psychforums by a friend who used it while she was in therapy, and thought i'd use it to my advantage. i don't know if i'm posting this to the right forum board, but i thought i'd give it a shot :)

i've been struggling very, VERY badly lately. it began with tension headaches and neck pains. they were concerning to me at first, but then i spiraled. i started thinking i was sick, and that i was dying of an unknown insanely rare disease (with no symptoms besides the telltale physical symptoms of stress and anxiety). that anxiety has faded a little bit now, and with help from some really amazing people and resources i've began being able to rationalize those thoughts. along with that fear though, i've also become deathly afraid of sleep. i dread sleeping, and have to wear myself down to an exhausted stump so that i can finally sleep by 3-5 AM. i'm terrified that i'm going to die in my sleep. no matter how well i am able to rationalize everything else, it feels like my mind has complete control over me here. every time i wake up the next morning and prove my brain wrong, it feels like it registers none of it and it doesn't get any better. i've tried the "so what?" method of thinking, but it doesn't work for me. i don't want to spiral more than i already have, and i really REALLY don't want this to develop into an actual fear.

this constant barrage of anxiety and dread has caused me so, so, SO much physical and mental exhaustion. i feel very apathetic towards a lot of things i would normally care very much about and my body is constantly tense. i get random pains everywhere and am always dizzy.

i can't see a therapist/psychiatrist because of my household. i move out in december (yay!) and i am VERY excited, but i want to know if ANYBODY has any tips for making things easier until then. i'm currently doing CBT every time i get these thoughts and i work in hospitality so i am pretty much always distracted, but i want to know how to rationalize and overcome these thoughts. i'm only 19, healthy and don't have a family with a history of medical problems nor a history myself.

any advice, kind words, etc. are very very VERY much appreciated. thank you so much.
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Re: deathly afraid of sleep. help?

Postby Snaga » Wed Sep 21, 2022 9:25 pm

hello and welcome to the forums!

vilesmell wrote: i don't know if i'm posting this to the right forum board, but i thought i'd give it a shot


Well this is a hard thing to pin. I've placed it in Specific Phobias, but along the way we took a stop in OCD, and left a shadow link to this post there. Not that this is OCD but there is some obsessing going on, so that might be helpful to direct readers from that forum, which is also the busiest anxiety forum.

I'm sorry you're going through this. For me, worrying about sleep is one of those self-fulfilling prophesies, the other closest thing I can think of is performance anxiety- if a fellow worries he can't have an erection... well, he's going to have trouble having an erection.

Same with sleep or anything sleep related, I think.

vilesmell wrote: i've tried the "so what?" method of thinking, but it doesn't work for me.


Well, it's not a magic bullet. Not caring (so what?) is something that has to be cultivated and then exercised like a muscle. In the words of Master Yoda, Do, or do not. There is no try. It's hard to get started. That first initial hump is a steep one.

Ultimately it comes down to so what? You have to decide to not care, and stubbornly make the decision not to. Think of it as deferring the anxiety. Worry about waking up dead, when you find yourself in a near-death experience. Not before. No point in worrying about it, it hasn't happened and you have no proof it will any time soon.

Death is going to come sooner or later. I sure wish I was 19; get up in your 30s and see how fast time starts to fly. I am a lot closer to the end than the beginning, and I can tell you that I sure don't like thinking about dying. But the clock is ticking and there's nothing I can do about it. We all die. At your age though you need to be under the false assumption you'll live forever, and enjoy that age.

Think about it like this: Would you rather die in your sleep, or know it's coming? see it approaching? I can think of lots of ways to die, and dying in my sleep sounds pretty sweet, compared to most of them. God willing, you're many decades away from death. There's a lot of living to do between now and then.
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Re: deathly afraid of sleep. help?

Postby vilesmell » Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:53 am

thank you so much for your reply snaga!

Snaga wrote: I'm sorry you're going through this. For me, worrying about sleep is one of those self-fulfilling prophesies, the other closest thing I can think of is performance anxiety- if a fellow worries he can't have an erection... well, he's going to have trouble having an erection.


you’re completely right, haha! if i tell myself im going to dread sleep..of course i’m going to. i’ve been worrying about it constantly for days now. no wonder it hasnt gotten any easier. i’m trying to be kinder to my mind, and convince myself that sleep is very very important. because, well..it is. :lol: i talked with the two closest people in my life tonight, and we spoke about being kind to your brain. it’s so easy to beat yourself up over not being okay, but that’s not what helps.

you mentioned that the first jumping off point is a steep one- no kidding…as soon as i try to say “so what?” my mind jumps to all of the possible effects if whatever i’m concerned about happens..it’s exhausting, and makes me immediately want to shut up and turn to a different method. i’ll try to carry on with this method, and try to push through this barrier!

it’s been very difficult to convince myself that my brain isn’t right to worry. i know that i don’t have any health issues, but my brain says that i wouldn’t be worrying about this if something wasn’t genuinely wrong..i feel like i’ve fallen into that trap, and it makes everything a lot harder. i’ve been doing a LOT of cbt worksheets this afternoon, and i’m really excited to keep doing them :) the thing i’ve gotta keep reminding myself is that people have no clue that they’re gonna die before they die 80% of the time, especially a healthy teenager with no symptoms at all. if everybody could tell when they were going to die, they’d be doing it all of the time! :lol:

thank you so much for sharing with me. it puts things into perspective when i talk to people older than me about things like this- i’m excited to look back on this as an adult and think “wow, i wish that was all i had to worry about now”!
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