themighty logo

When You Can't Go to Sleep Without Anxiety Following You


Have you ever had a moment when you’ve been woken up, not because of a noise or a weird light going on and off, but because of your thoughts?

Have you ever had a nagging feeling that lingered around until you drifted to sleep? If you haven’t, you’re a lucky soul.

Recently, I’ve been having anxiety dreams. What’s an anxiety dream, you ask?

It’s a dream that causes extreme panic, stress or anxiety. It’s not a nightmare, however; it’s a dream that, as soon as it happens, it causes your heart to race. In my situation, they occur super late at night or extremely early in the morning, depending on your perception of time. I’m talking between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. It’s the moment when your body rejects its needed sleep because your mind is telling it to succumb to its demons.

Picture this: Imagine you’re coming home from a hard day at work and all you want to do is relax. All of a sudden, the place you usually love to come home to causes dread in your mind, because you are attempting to predict how to the next night will go. It’s that moment when you wake up in the middle of night, panic-stricken, sweating, heart racing — when you feel like anxiety is only your destiny. You feel like this is the only expectation you can amount to. It has this powerful grip over your mind, body and soul, making it feel like you can’t and shouldn’t amount to anything for the day. It makes getting out of bed 20 times harder when you already don’t have the motivation to do so. These dreams are your mind’s way of experiencing turmoil in your most defenseless state. They cause your body to feel like it either has to fight or get ready for flight. Your mind is racing like the cars on a NASCAR track. It makes you feel nauseous, weak and unworthy.

Often, it’s your minds way of overcompensating for stress. In a sense, it’s saying, “If I have to miserable, so you do.” Having an anxiety dream is like waking up to find out the one you love has left you in the night, or even worse — that you are experiencing a waking nightmare. These dreams loom over your day and impose all these negative thoughts in ordinary daily processes. You’re on pins and needles anticipating whether the day will function as a “normal” one, or if it will end up with you having a breakdown by lunch. This is one of the times when you secretly wish others could see it, to put the myth to bed— “It’s all in your head, just stop thinking about it.” How can you stop thinking about something when it’s the only thing consuming your mind? Sure, you can occupy yourself and forge a facade that makes it seem like you have your shit together, but that only lasts for so long. It’s the moment where you have to differentiate whether you will allow anxiety to conquer your day, or if you will overcome anxiety.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages