Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Anxiety Demon

The more I can't sleep, the more anxious I become; the more anxious I become the less I sleep. My therapist likes to take a look at "parts" of ourselves. Such as, part of me is so angry right now I could choke a camel. In the last session, my therapist had me take a look at the part of me that can't sleep. The anxiety came up right away, strangling my heart, closing off my throat and throbbing in my temples. It was rooted so deeply that it was impossible to separate from the rest of me. She asked my anxiety what it was worried would happen to me if it didn't let go. I closed my eyes and listened but didn't hear an answer at that moment. On the ride home, it came to me. Part of me is afraid that if I fall asleep I might not wake up.

When I was a teenager, my big sister was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She fought the cancer for five years. Toward the end, she was afraid to fall asleep because she knew she might not wake up. Eventually, her fear became a reality and she did not wake. I was devastated when she died and still carry that pain with me.

After facing a potentially life-threatening situation because of the blood clots in my lungs, the Anxiety Demon inside me came to life. It wakes me up every few hours, just to make sure I'm still alive. It's 1:30 a.m. and it wakes me up - yep, she's still alive. It's 3:30 a.m. and it wakes me up again - yep, still alive. And so on, through the night.

My therapist suggested taking an anti-anxiety medication, like Ativan, before bed to help break the cycle. I called my doctor, but she wanted to see me before prescribing any medication, so I set up an appointment at the next available time. She said that there are better medications than Ativan, but wasn't specific. Meanwhile, I tried a supplement that I got from my acupuncturist called Gabatrol for stress, anxiety and depression. It has ingredients like Phenyl-GABA and Kanna to combat stress without the side effects of prescription meds. It seems to have mellowed the Anxiety Demon because it only woke me twice in the night instead of four times. Find out more at

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