I’ve been having trouble sleeping.
Well, that’s putting it mildly.
I’ve been having trouble falling asleep. And then I’ve been having trouble with nightmares, while asleep. After that I have been having trouble jolting awake, covered in sweat and shivering. That’s generally followed by trouble tossing and turning for several hours, trouble going back to sleep and, finally, a fitful 2-3 hours of troubled drifting between levels of consciousness until I finally give in and drag myself out of bed for breakfast.
It’s been pretty awful.
For a while I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was it perhaps a reaction to medication? Stress? Pain? My autonomic nervous system causing more shenanigans?
And any one of those things may be root cause behind this relatively new phenomenon.
But whatever it is, it’s causing a bigger problem than disruption in my sleep.
It’s causing me to feel afraid.
It’s causing anxiety.
As the sun goes down each night, I start to become overly sensitive to the sounds around me. I analyze footsteps in the hall, and tiptoe to the door to make sure that it’s locked.
And when I finally crawl into bed, my thoughts are consumed with worst case scenarios. And as I try to distract myself with positive thoughts, people that I love and happy memories, my mind quickly imagines how during, for example, a zombie apocalypse, everything and everyone that I love will be destroyed.
Even in the moment I know that there’s something off about my thought process. That there is more to consider, other ways of looking at it. But in that moment, as I lie in the dark, alone in my apartment, I can’t seem to find one.
Last night as I grudgingly prepared for bed, miserable at the thought of facing another night in terror, I questioned why I was suddenly feeling so anxious. Why did I feel so afraid?
After all, it’s not like I haven’t thought about disasters before. As someone with an overactive imagination, I have imagined countless horrific incidents in my time – in fact, I recently found a story that I wrote at age 7 involving a child’s parents being eaten by lions (I really was quite a happy child – I swear!).
But I have always been able to move past my somewhat alarming thoughts.
It may be that medications are causing this new anxiety. It may be stress. It may be due to some shift in my body, a food that I’m eating or even the weather. It may be that I have developed an anxiety disorder.
I’m not sure.
But I do know that something is different. This is new. And it feels overpowering.
And as I thought about this all last night, I had a bit of a realization.
In the past, whenever I contemplated the scary possibilities of this world, I always told myself that whatever happened, I’d deal with it as it came.
Which, to be frank, is a little bit ridiculous. I mean, of course, you can only deal with life as it comes, but there is no certainty of being able to control it. I have always known that. Yet somehow, I was soothed by the thought that I would handle whatever came my way as best I could.
But as much as I tell myself that now, the thought doesn’t soothe me.
Because my thoughts are not consumed by what I will do in the case of that zombie apocalypse. They are consumed by what might happen to those who try to help me.
At night, a thought that I believed myself to have come to terms with, bursts through the walls I had built and consumes me with fear.
Not only do I not seem to trust myself anymore, I feel like a burden.
I feel helpless, and I fear that others feel responsible.
There might be a clear cause for my increased anxiety. For my sleep disturbances and for my fidgety nights.
In fact, taking into account the sudden onset and the presence of giant green monsters that appear in my bedroom at night, I’d wager that it’s quite likely there’s something funny going on.
But whatever it is, it has brought to the forefront a very real concern. Something that I had been brushing off, instead of addressing head on.
And now that I know, I cannot avoid it anymore.
I feel like a burden because, truthfully, I am dependant.
I am dependant both financially and physically – two of the most valued fields in our world. The two elements we rely on in times of trouble, the two elements we flaunt to show our success.
But the thing is, I am not dependant in all areas of my life.
I do not believe that I am emotionally dependant. I value the company and opinions of others, no question, but I do not rely on their validation for my happiness.
I am intelligent, talented, hardworking, and, occasionally, funny. I am sensitive and creative, and I like to think that I’m a good friend.
I may dependant in two areas of my life and, unfortunately, those areas are kind of a big deal in our world, but that doesn’t make me a burden.
A burden by definition is a load, a weight to carry. It must be fully supported and it carries a strictly negative connotation.
And that’s not me.
I have value. I have ability.
And that’s something that I can trust in.
Maybe I’m more like cargo. I have to be carried certain places, but I’m filled with all kinds of good stuff.
Definitely worth the weight.