Rated: E · Non-fiction · Biographical · #2292471
A suggestion for those sleepless nights
Over the years, I sought out many therapists I expected to help me come to terms with my past of sexual abuse
I tried suicide twice, married 3 times, had two children, used alcohol, and constantly lived in a state of depression although I didn't know it was called depression. It was just the way I lived.
Every time, I went to a new therapist, out would come the prescription pad with new anti-depressants They were paid to listen to me, all diagnosed depression confident the pills should help. And each time, I continued to live the way I did with no change in my behavior. I was bent on self-destruction. None of it worked.
After nearly 40 years of living like this, I realized that the therapists did not give me usable tools to deal with the sleeplessness, triggered anxiety attacks, bad choices, and the depression unless they considered medication would do the trick. The pills never fixed me, they just dulled my senses and I was no better off.
Enough was enough. I had to figure out a way to fix myself. No one else could do it, not drugs, not alcohol, not husbands, nothing outside of me.
My brain was both my enemy and my friend, it protected me from the horror of the abuse as a small child but it, also, kept revolving the abuse, my choices, what else could I've done different, if I had made different choices, on and on and on. My brain kept reliving the past, it never shut up.
I, finally, figured out the problem was my brain. It knew what it knew and it would never be any different; unless I changed it.
My Faith in GOD became my strongest ally. I knew I had to retrain my brain, stopping the known painful revolutions. I started with HIS words.
Sleep was always just beyond my reach so that's where I started first. When I would try to sleep, my brain would start the same old cycle, putting sleep out of my reach. Soon my thoughts were going a hundred miles a minute, making sleep impossible. I had to slow it down
So, when my thoughts became too busy, I started out with the LORD'S prayer. I concentrated on each word, not allowing anything to distract me. It was tough, my previous know behavior kept trying to interfere like tiny legs creeping in around my focus but I stuck with it. Next, I tried the 23rd psalm, enunciating each word clearly, not allowing the distractions to interfere. I came up with a couple of mantras such as I would visualize a walk in the woods, examining each leaf, each tree, the smell of the air, and so forth. The key was to slowly focus on my visualizations in my head and refuse to let anything else interfere. It was hard at first, it took me a long time to make it work.
My point is to distract yourself when you can't sleep or when a trigger pops it's ugly little head. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? But it's hard work. You are attempting to change how you have thought for the past many years. Your brain has been controlling you, it has to be the other way around to make your life better
I am not saying, stop your therapist or your medication, medications save lives.
What I am saying is you have the ability inside you to change the way you automatically think. It won't come from the outside.
You can't change your past. It's real and nothing you can do now can make it different. Instead use your energy and strength to move forward. This method of distraction has helped me enormously. When I go to bed now, sleep comes. Occasionally, I still have to use the distraction method but it's very rare.
When a sound of a smell or a look triggers past thoughts, I take a breath and, immediately, distract myself. I still get triggers but I no longer act on them.
Your thoughts can be a vicious cycle but you CAN change that, not in a couple of days or weeks. But if you keep trying, it will work, I promise you. Patience, strength you already have, will work.
Most importantly, GOD surrounds you, HE hears you and HE will help you.
"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren helped me a great deal.
I've included a link to one of my go-to-sleep mantras below. Use your imagination and visualize a place or an activity you love. Move very slowly through your dream, examining each step, going as slow as possible. You can feel your heart begin to relax. Be as elaborate as you want, the more the better.
Or, simply, say the LORD's prayer as many times as you need. Or say the same word each time you inhale. Repetition works well.
The key is slowing down long enough to relax and, finally, SLEEP