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What I’m Actually Afraid of When Anxiety Makes Me Scared To Sleep at Night

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I’m scared to go to sleep at night. I’m frightened of the dark room. I’m fearful of my shallow breaths slowly becoming deeper as I ease off into slumber.

I’ll be 34 soon. I’m an adult in all meanings of the word, yet I have a panic attack when dusk evolves into night. As 8 p.m. turns to 9 p.m., I know it’ll be time to go to bed soon.

With my nightly routine comes my nightly medication — medications prescribed for my bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and fibromyalgia.

I fear sleep because I fear not waking up. My paranoia sets in. What if the doctors are wrong and there’s a contraindication and one medicine interferes with another? The “what if” fuels my anxiety. All these medications I put into my body, designed for wellness, now the cause of my terror?

These are the inner workings of my mental health and chronic illness. I offer this glimpse into my mind in order that you don’t feel alone. Do you fear bedtime? Are you frightened of drifting off, as I am?

I couldn’t allow another night to pass without getting my thoughts out into words. I’ve consulted my medical team and my medicines are safe for me, even with multiple conditions. I still take them because they keep me alive.

I fear the night because I fear not awakening due to a barrage of medication, yet the utter irony is these medicines keep me well. My anxiety lies once more. 

There’s not a pretty bow I can wrap this up with. I simply offer the notion that fears can be irrational. I choose to not let my illnesses win. I take my medicines even if I feel OK because they are the reason I feel OK. 

I’ve shared my story, so until next time, good night.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Up All Night group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Do you have trouble sleeping because of insomnia, painsomnia, anxiety or any other reason? Chat with other night owls when you can't sleep in the Up All Night group. Click to join.

Getty Images illustration via sabelskaya

Originally published: September 24, 2020
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