Importance of sleep for mental well-being 

It’s funny how we take a good night’s sleep for granted. Following a long day with many obstacles to navigate, climbing into bed, closing your eyes and switching your mind off is a welcome relief. 

I know that sleep is something which frequently I take for granted when I have it. I am stronger mentally, physically energised and emotionally more stable. Tasks during the day are doable and things which crop up I can deal with. I am focused and living daily life in a ‘normal’ manner. 

But when sleep evades you night after night, all that strength, energy and stability slowly evaporates and the everything appears to become a battlefield. 

Since the end of September I have struggled with sleeping. Initally it was the odd night where I couldn’t stay asleep and then it became a problem just going to sleep. 

I have been sat on the sofa watching tv, falling asleep and decided it’s time for bed. So I’ve gone up to bed only to find myself wide awake. I’ve followed strategies which are recommended in ‘sleep hygiene’ but to no avail. And hour or two have crept by and I am still wide awake. 

My mind seems to go into overdrive. Random thoughts race around creating havoc. I try to distract, I try to do everything I can to make my head quiet but it doesn’t work. So I get back up and go downstairs to watch TV in the hope that it will quieten the noise in my head and make me sleepy. It can take all night before I get close to sleep, I wearily climb back up the stairs and crawl into bed and close my eyes. I sleep. 

But suddenly I am awake again. I check the time and only a couple of hours have passed. 

This routine follows night after night, week after week. 

There is no time for my mind to rest and body to relax. I feel like I am permanently on edge. 

My therapist and gp believe that as soon as we can get my sleep back into a healthy rhythm that the mental and emotional issues will be easier to handle. I agree with them. 

Life seems so much tougher than it did just a few months ago. It’s that bad right now that I am considering whether I should drop out from Uni. My therapist is right when she says that the course is sometimes triggering. There are many aspects which hit too close to home and that unsettle me emotionally. I know this, I try to deny it or push through, but ultimately I know that her point is valid. 

I’m torn about uni. I struggle to get in because of agoraphobia, I can’t focus so therefore I don’t get the work done and I am falling behind. BUT when I can sleep, the work keeps me busy and distracted and makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile with my life. 

I’ve quit college and uni several times over the years and it makes me feel like I am a giant loser, regardless of the fact that there were extenuating circumstances. I don’t want to be a loser, a constant failure or a joke. 

The progress I thought I was making in therapy has been good, but I pushed too hard and it’s unsettled me emotionally and mentally. Not being able to sleep has just exacerbated the problem. 

When I was taking cocodamol I was seldom really aware of how I was feeling or what I was thinking. Everything was just a jumble. This time round I can feel my moods going up and down, the paranoia creeping in, the endless feeling of being useless and worthless, feeling like I am empty. Sometimes I feel overwhelming rage and sadness that just take  over.

Craving cocodamol is hard to fight. Not because of the physical desire to get high, but because there is a psychological desire to feel better and in the recent past cocodamol was that thing. 

I feel frustrated that I can’t get it on prescription, having to leave the house and go to the chemist fills me with anxiety so I don’t go. This in turn leads to seering anger with myself. Several times a day I fight this neverending loop. 
I feel like I am going crazy. I’m lonely and isolated but it’s not because there aren’t people around, it’s because I have withdrawn socially. I find it hard being around others, I get tongue tied and feel excruciatingly anxious. I try to distract myself by studying but I don’t have a clue what it is that I just read. I get bored easily and feel restless but nothing interests me and I’ve got no energy to do anything which in turn makes me feel lazy. 

The gp prescribed me temazepam to help me sleep, but it’s not really helping with the whole insomnia thing. When i do eventually fall asleep i stay asleep some nights but I still struggle to go to sleep. So I’ve been misusing the few quetiapine tablets i have left over. They worked far better than the temazepam but last night, 50mg didn’t do anything so I took 75mg. I feel terrible that Ive been using them but I am terrified of not being able to sleep. At the same time I am terrified of sleeping. Its like a nightmare day after day, night after night. 

Tomorrow I have two meetings at uni. One with the welfare officer and one with one of the lecturers who combines as a department counsellor. I’ve learnt over the course of the past 4years that reaching out when things are hard is far better than trying to fix everything on your own. 

I then have a two hour counselling workshop which I am nervous about but also looking forward to as I will see my friends who are supportive and caring. 

Then at 2pm I have my weekly counselling session. It’s a busy day and one which I need to have sleep for. I am already feeling anxious about tonight and being able to sleep and then having to get up early to attend these meetings. 

Everything just feels like its too much. I am so tired and  I have no idea what i want or how to get there. 


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