Goodnight, Sleep: A Glimpse into Depression & Anxiety
Updated: Apr 2
Another sleepless night rears its ugly head. I can feel the anxiety and depression begin to engulf me, pulling me into the dark corners of hell. At first, I shrug it off. I take a few deep breathes to center myself. It calms me for the moment, but I know that’s not the last of it. This is how my illnesses work. I try and put it out of my mind. I busy myself with small tasks, thinking this will keep what's coming at bay, and it does for a short time. But I can still feel that twinge of panic in the back of my head. It's almost bedtime. "Why? I ask myself, why now? I thought today was a good day!”
I can feel the cycle about to begin. It's late. I can't put off sleep any longer, or so I thought. I lay my head on my pillow and wait. Will it be slumber, or will it be something else? I can feel my inner voice is becoming distorted and lost. There is no sound except the quiet chatter of anxiety and depression. I know now what is coming.
It starts. The tapes in my head become louder and louder, replaying conversations from hours, days, months, even years ago that have long been forgotten by the other party. Hashing out what I could have said. Or chastising myself for not speaking my truth." Why did you say that? I hear anxiety say, you should be ashamed of yourself!”
Depression chimes in. "You need to run…hide!" it shouts.
My rational mind tries, just for a moment, to offer a crumb of guidance, "People have already forgotten about it, move on, get over it."
But it's useless, the other two strongholds gag my rational friend to regain power. Before I know it, the entities intertwine, swirling into one dark mass. I feel myself slipping, I can't find anything to grasp. The light begins to fade. I can no longer see. The darkness has arrived and with it comes the Beast.
Next come the stories. The old stories my depression and anxiety have told me over and over for years start to run rampant, they fester, picking and gnawing at me until I'm so full of doubt, I start believing the fiction. I lose my confidence, but I can't show weakness, they remind me. I can't be vulnerable. "Don't let them see the cracks," I hear the Beast whisper ever so softly. The hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I can feel my toes curl as I prepare for battle once again. This consumes me, swallowing me whole. Further I go, into the bowels of darkness, to face my demons.
The sleepless night leaves me ragged and foggy. I muster the strength to drag myself out of bed to meet my daily obligations. I'm fragile and exhausted, but I put on my worn, tarnished armour and try again. I look in the mirror, hoping to see a different face looking back at me. Someone strong. Someone who can slay the Beast so I can be free. That person is not in the reflection. I sigh, wipe my tears, lower my mask and hope today will be different.
In the beginning, I thought death was the only viable option to tame the Beast and quiet the obsessive chatter, releasing me from this churning black inferno. I search for compassion in the hooded stranger's non-existent eyes, trying to find some form of relief. With his scythe in hand, Death turns ever so slowly and disappears into the vast future. It's not my time. I need to look elsewhere.
As time goes on, I grow and learn. I find tools, weapons if you will. The kind of evidence that will not kill the Beast but deter it. After all these years of fighting in the dark with only my hands, I find my voice, my words. What started as only faint whispers have grown to a mighty roar. At first the Beast is startled but as the words grow and get stronger, the evil creature cowers. It's disorientated, not understanding where this sound has been hiding. It pushes back, flexing its muscles, trying to intimidate. But it doesn't work. The roar clarifies into words, words more powerful and effective than anyone would imagine, words that strip away the darkness, allowing streams of golden light into my once windowless room. It's time to strike. I use every ounce of strength I have.
The Beast is wounded. It's scrambling for any sign of night left as the light becomes more powerful, blinding it. The Beast feels its power ebbing away. It scurries back to its cage, licking its wounds. I am free.
I can feel the tears begin to stream down my face. These are not the same tears that came from that dark place. They come so fast and hard, I'm left completing sobbing. I’m releasing years of pain and suffering. I feel the light penetrating my soul.
I remove my armour. I can breathe. My tears subside. My eyes are red but filled with new hope. The tension that once held me together begins to dissipate. The feeling is foreign but welcome.
My old friend sleep quickly returns and I'm embraced in its warm folds. Once I emerge from the much-needed slumber, it's time to tell my story. It's time to show my cracks, my flaws, my vulnerability. This is the way to permanently cage the Beast.
So, I begin to write. My story flows out of me so quickly I can barely keep up. I feel my heart swell with emotion as the words tumble onto the page. It's time. Time to speak and show others they are not alone. And they don't need to fight in silence anymore.
So, shout! Scream! Embrace your voice; be vulnerable. It's the only way to emerge victorious. You have the strength of words inside of you, pacing back and forth, just waiting for the door to open. Here is the key, dear friend. The journey begins with you. Welcome to the light.
I'm excited to announce this post has been published on True Life Blogs as a Guest Blogger!