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  • Julie

That Time I Needed to Offload at 3am!


Well, not usually one to suffer with insomnia, it appears I will tonight.


I woke just before 3am to what I thought was the smell of dog poo?! (Yes you read that right!) Now I do actually have a dog, but even so this was immensely disturbing!

I blurrily fumbled my way around the whole house. Squinting to investigate each room in the harsh brightness as I flicked on each switch…nothing? Absolutely nothing! It must have been my imagination, (it appears my unconscious has a sense of humour)! But at least it wasn’t the smell of burnt toast, I tell myself, isn’t that a sign of a stroke? Admittedly, though, I would have preferred the aroma of toast!


Anyway, zombified I make my way back to bed… but it appears sleep is elusive!


The inner monologue


And so it begins…the after-hours cascade of goings-on being something like this:

  • 20 minutes of tossing and turning…

  • “I’d better just check my phone” … never know who might be trying to get hold of me at 3am!? …

  • “While I’m here, (with that mesmerizing blue hue radiating from my screen), I’ll just have a quick check of Insta”. I know! Biggest no-no, guaranteed to keep you awake better than a mug of espresso…

  • “Oh my neck feels tight!” Great, the curse of Quasimodo strikes again tomorrow…

  • “I can’t get comfy”…

  • Perfect! Now the inner critic chimes in: “I shouldn’t have shouted at the kids earlier!” Feeling so consumed with guilt now I just want to hug them and apologise. Although I’m pretty certain they won’t see that as reasonable grounds for such a rude awakening at this hour!

  • Then up pops the incessant to-do list: “I must ring the doctors and the vets tomorrow and make those appointments!” (The anxiety around that is a whole other blog post!) Why do we always remember these things in the middle of the night when we can’t do anything about them?….

  • Logic is trying in vain to edge in: “Come on, I need to get some sleep! OK let’s sleep…”…. … …

  • Another 20 minutes… “ARGHHH this isn’t working! Maybe I should get up, have a warm drink and then try again… but no I can’t be bothered!”…

  • “I know, let’s do a guided meditation”…

  • …14 minutes later: “ahh much more relaxed now… BUT still helplessly awake!”….

So here I am, surrendered to the fact that sleep does not want to come back to me tonight (and being quite a stubborn person I don’t tend to give in easily).


I switch on my laptop, make myself a warm drink (attempting to put the milk away in the cup cupboard completely miffed as to why it won’t fit), and curl up on the sofa to offload.


Releasing the burden of thoughts


It’s obviously my mind that’s keeping me awake. The constant and relentless thoughts swirling around like debris caught in a tornado.


I can almost see this mini version of myself stomping around inside my head in a heated tantrum, screaming and throwing things. Berating me for all the things I appear to have got wrong yesterday, and submerging me in all the things I need to do tomorrow. Making all those irrational worries seem unavoidably huge in the still solitude of the dark.


My best solution is to get all those things out of my head and onto the page. Perhaps if they’re released from the custody of my mind, like some wayward criminal, it will provide room for restful slumber? … even if it’s only an hour before the harsh unwelcoming sound of my alarm.


And this is something I realise I need to manage better in the future – finding ways to quieten my mind before I go to sleep… meditation, journaling, breathing exercises maybe? To prevent such nocturnal escapades in future.


On a final note, before I physically (and hopefully psychologically) shutdown, there is a plus side to this early-hour excursion (always one to try and find a positive no matter how well camouflaged it may be), I did catch sight of our resident hedgehog outside the back door, having some biscuits…and that’s definitely something I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t up at this unearthly hour. ‘Silver linings’, as they say!


What I learnt from this experience:

  • It helps to get things out; physically extract them from my mind and onto paper (or laptop – I am trying to be more 21st Century).

  • I need to find ways that will help my mind to calm down before bed, to improve my sleep and therefore improving my mental health.

  • There’s always a positive to be found … even if that is in the form of a bristly little character uneasily eyeing you through the window.

 

To learn and read more about Julie, head over to her own website where she shares stories from her own life experiences.


If you would like to submit a story, anonymously or under your name, please get in touch! You can fill out the contact form on the website or email youmeandanxiety@outlook.com!​

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