Back in December, I posted about my Four in the Morning Brain. Since that post, I’ve been taking active steps to understand anxiety and alleviate it as much as possible. The first step to ridding anxiety is understanding it. I’m currently reading Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. It’s an interesting read for anyone else who finds themselves struggling with anxiety, even though parts of the book are outdated since it was published in 1997.
I’ve recently become aware that anxiety follows me everywhere. It’s not just in spurts at four in the morning. I find myself worrying all day long about stuff I can’t control. Lately, I’ve been worrying about my health and the health of people I love. Ever since my co-worker passed away after battling colon cancer for only a year and a half, it’s been on my mind. This isn’t the first time cancer has touched my life, though. My father died of cancer when I was four years old, so cancer has been part of my life for over twenty years. My dad was able to receive hospice care in our home, and I still have the image of his hospital bed in our living room embedded in my mind.
Our bodies can shut down on us at any time, and it can happen without warning. According to Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety, I’ve become aware of my mortality. This anxiety I’m experiencing is called Sacred Anxiety, but it’s becoming Toxic Anxiety when I think about it all the time, like I have been.
In an effort to relax, I’ve downloaded some relaxing apps to my phone. There are a TON available, and they all work when used correctly (and your cat isn’t pouncing on you while you’re doing it — make sure to lock the cat out). Usually, I do a session right before bed. One of my apps has an eight-minute guided meditation session I really like. A couple of the apps lull me to sleep, so I don’t wake up to plug my phone in so it’s charged in the morning. The eight-minute meditation doesn’t. If you’re interested in finding an app to help you relax, test several out and find out which ones work best for you.
Since I’ve started meditating, my vivid, bad dreams and panic night sessions had vanished. I was sleeping sounder through the night without interruptions. I wasn’t even waking up to my cat begging for food in the morning.
It didn’t work on Monday night.
I started my regular eight-minute meditation at around 10:30, and I felt peaceful. I’d gone to the library earlier in the evening to write, and I was exhausted. I’d eaten dinner, watched a couple episode of House of Cards, and finished washing my dishes. I was mentally and physically exhausted, so I decided to turn in.
At three in the morning (an hour earlier than usual), I woke up from a vivid dream. I’d dreamt I was talking to my college professor. In the dream, he told me I would have to pay back all my college scholarship money to the college, since the college was closing. I was freaking out. He told me I can deduct it from my taxes. However, I owed the school more than $50,000, and I’d already filed my taxes for the year! I was freaking out.
I woke up with my hand on my ear. I’ve had this bump on the back of my ear for a few days now. I can’t see it. It appeared at the same time as a scatter of acne — the pre-period breakout. It’s not the first time I’ve had a pimple or bump on the back of my ear, but lately I’ve been paying attention to every little change in my body. Touching the bump inflames it. In the middle of the night, I had convinced myself it was swelling, and my ear was throbbing. I roused from my bed and went into the kitchen to get a piece of ice. I iced my ear until the pain went away and the bump had shrunk, and I fell back into a restless sleep.
My dream picked up where it left off, only I was able to control the dream now. It’s called lucid dreaming, I believe. I made it so my teacher had delivered the wrong letter to me by accident, and it was another student who owed $50,000. Another letter came in its place, and there was already money in the envelope.
I want to start keeping track of these episodes, to see if there’s a pattern in their occurrence. I’m also planning on purchasing a FitBit, which will help me get a better idea of my sleep cycle. I’ve never thought of myself as a person with a sleeping disorder or issues sleeping. Sleep and I are great friends. Normally I don’t have trouble falling asleep. I don’t recall having anxiety episodes in the middle of the night when I was a kid, but I’ve had vivid dreams for as long as I can remember.