When things are going really well for a while, a setback can be even more frustrating. During my therapy sessions, I will say things like “if this happens” and my therapist will correct me and say “when that happens”. The reason he does this is because things won’t be perfect all the time and the more I can accept that the better off I will be.
I have talked about it a lot on here that one of the big issues I have from my anxiety is sleep troubles. More often than not I would have trouble falling asleep, lying awake for hours just counting down how little sleep I would be getting that night. I tried every supplement, every combination of supplements and even turning to things like benadryl and nyquil some nights when I was really desperate. After working with my functional medicine doctor and going to therapy consistently, things were finally starting to get better. I had a stretch of a little over a month where I had no trouble falling asleep, I was actually struggling to stay awake on the couch after 9pm each night. Then last week I had my first bad night in a while and it completely derailed me.
I had done my normal night time routine, taken the supplements that have been working really well for me and was feeling really sleepy while I was watching TV that night. I went into bed around 9:45 and really thought I would pass right out. The time kept going by and I was still awake and I started to get really upset. I kept thinking in my head I have been doing SO well why is this happening now! The fact that I had such a long stretch of good nights made the situation even worse. I was still in that “if this happens” mindset and not “when it happens.” I had gotten too sure of myself that I was fixed and couldn’t believe that I was having one of my bad nights again. After about 3 hours I knew I had gotten myself too worked up and I took one of my emergency night sleep aids. I woke up the next morning exhausted, defeated, and really bummed out.
The next night was even worse. As I was getting ready for bed and starting to wind down I kept thinking about not falling asleep and got so incredibly anxious. I was watching TV, trying to calm down and my heart was just racing. My thoughts were out of control and I couldn’t get my mind to settle. I got into bed around 11, completely exhausted from not sleeping well the night before. I had taken a little extra of my supplements and a little extra CBD, hoping this would help my mind shut off. Because I was so frustrated and annoyed with myself from the night before there was no hope for me that night. I was still awake when Derek came home from a night out around 3:30am. At this point I was in tears and had just completely worked myself up.
The next day I felt awful, I was so tired I could barely function all day. I went for a walk just to get myself moving and get some fresh air and I sat down by the ocean to really think about what was going on. Why was I being so hard on myself? Two nights of bad sleep used to be a good week for me so why was I so upset about it. I realized I had gotten so used to feeling good and not having an issue with sleeping that I convinced myself things were all better. I was doing exactly what my therapist had tried to steer me away from and I was not prepared for the “when.” It is so easy to let a small set back spiral you back into such a negative mindset. Instead of being gentle with myself and reminding myself that I am not perfect and I don’t have to be, I expected too much of myself and got mad when I felt I fell short. Being such a perfectionist, it’s hard to be gentle and easy on myself. I’m used to putting so much pressure on myself and being so tough that it is hard for me to take a step back and give myself a break. What I learned from this experience is that no matter how far I come, how much progress I make, there will be times that I feel off or I have a bad night sleep or a day filled with anxiety. Just because I am making progress doesn’t mean I have erased all possibilities of a step backwards. And these times when things feel off, that is ok. Everything about the process has been a journey and the journey isn’t just a path forward. This journey is steps forward and backwards and sideways and every way in between. This is a lesson in self compassion. I deserve to be kind to myself and proud of all of the work I have done so far, no matter how many setbacks I may encounter I need to be proud that I keep pushing forwards.