I am calm and serene just like the Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2016
As was abundantly apparent from my last post, my lack of sleep was a source of great stress and tension for me. This state of mind was doing nothing to help resolve the situation. If anything it was simply making things worse. Stress and poor sleep go hand in hand, powering each other on, in one big sticky trap.
Notice the use of the past tense. Sleep, or rather my lack of it, was causing me much stress. But now I am happy to report I am no longer stressed about it (okay perhaps I am still a teensy bit concerned, but this is a work in progress. Baby steps = moving in the right direction and good enough for me).
Am I sleeping perfectly? Erm I wish. Am I sleeping as well as I was before I stopped taking my sleep medication, sadly not. Am I sleeping slightly better than a week ago? There’s still a long way to go, but yes, touch wood, bow in thanks to the sleep Gods, yes I am falling asleep a little quicker. But the drop in stress levels came before this, albeit minor, improvement.
A shift in my approach to my sleep has taken the heat out of the situation. A calmer, more peaceful, more neutral approach to not being able to fall asleep, has dampened down the fiery aggressive ball of stress that engulfed me last week. And in turn is helping me to sleep a little better. And I know if I can continue this calmer more conciliatory approach, restful, refreshing sleep will come back to me.
By coming off medications, my body is going through a period of huge change. And as much as change produces uncomfortable, and for want of a better word, icky, feelings, the situation is not dangerous. It is not life threatening. Bumps in the road, such as dodgy sleep, are all part of transitioning through change. It is a phase. It is temporary. It is normal. It is natural. It is OK. It is necessary to move forward. So with all that in mind, it’s no big deal that my sleep isn’t great at the moment. It is right for me right now and it will pass.
My body is realigning itself. It is adjusting to a new set of circumstances. I have been on medication for the last 5 years. I have taken melatonin to help me sleep since 2012. My body is learning how to function without these tools in its armour. This takes time. And whilst my body grapples with this new landscape, there may be some bumps and a little unpleasantness. Whilst that is uncomfortable and somewhat irritating, it is not life threatening. It is natural, it is normal. It is okay. I am safe. I am okay.
Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2016
And so I keep soothing myself with these messages in gentle and kind tones. I am okay…… I am safe….. I am cultivating a peaceful and conciliatory approach. Letting go of the fighting talk and leaving aside the boxing gloves. They can’t help me. Embodying the stress was just ramping up my poor ME/CFS addled nervous system; making the adrenalin and cortisol corse through my veins at breakneck speed. Adding fuel to the fire of stress burning bright; all taking me further and further away from the calm and quiet frame of mind I crave and the deep restful sleep I want for.
So now, I think to myself, who cares if I sleep tonight. If I don’t fall asleep quickly, what does it matter? It’s actually a good thing. It gives me time to ponder and think, time to read, meditate and relax. Really not drifting off quickly is no bad thing. It is the gift of time. (Okay perhaps I’ve gone a little too far with that last one. But you get my drift.)
I am trying not to grip too tightly to expectations because expectations are often unattainable and frequently missed; especially in times of transition and change. And that just sets you up for feelings of failure which is to stress what oxygen is to a burning flame. And after all, as uncomfortable as it may be, change is often unpredictable. The healthiest and happiest approach is to accept the unexpected and better yet to expect nothing.
I am relinquishing the need for everything to be fixed immediately; removing the urgency and lightning the load. I am accepting that this period of bumps is natural. It is normal. It is temporary. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is not life threatening. I am safe.
In short, there really is no point in stressing about not sleeping well – I could have saved myself the last 700 words and just said that. But gentle repetition of positive phrases is good for the soul.
And so I say one last time. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is normal. It is temporary. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is not life threatening. I am safe.
Perhaps try this approach next time you’re stressed about something seemingly out of your control. It has helped me feel much less overwhelmed and put me back in the driving seat 🙂
Having just written this post, I am now flooded with feelings of deja vu. I have been here before. I have in fact written a post like this before – last year when our house move took on the path of an aggressive rollercoaster ride, and I struggled with the uncertainty and stress of another situation out of my control. Apparently I’m a slow learner. Or rather in times of struggle and stress it is far too easy to lose your perspective and fail to see the obvious. But hey, next time I’m in a situation that is ramping up my stress levels, I will remember these words of wisdom and not struggle against the stress quite so much. After all, third time’s the charm right?