My insomnia recovery story
I always considered myself to be a good sleeper. Being an anxious type in general, I could always rely on one thing: if I’d face a problem or worry in life, I could always “sleep on it”.
One night things changed. It was January 2020; I was going through antibiotic treatment when on the third day, I lost my sleep and I didn’t sleep at all. I spent the whole night moving from bed to sofa, very puzzled. The same happened on the second night – zero sleep. I immediately thought it has something to do with the pills. As I later read, that particular antibiotic had a rare side effect as sleep disruption, and I was “the lucky one” to have it.
I stopped the treatment, and the next nights went back to normal. Until my business trip a couple of weeks later. That night at the hotel, I thought to myself: “I wonder if I still can lose my sleep?” and I didn’t sleep again.
Going down the rabbit hole
It didn’t make sense, because I was no longer taking the antibiotics. I started googling different remedies. This was the beginning of spiraling down. No matter what I tried, pretty soon everything stopped working. I started having multiple nights in a row of either zero or very little sleep, accompanied by panic and despair. No doctor could tell me what was wrong either.
A couple of months later, I started reading about anxiety and panic, and I noticed that insomnia has a lot in common with phobias and PTSD. I thought to myself – these problems are dealt with relatively easily in psychotherapy, so how come I can’t apply the same principles to my sleep? This is when I started reading about exposure therapy, and it was the beginning of the end.
Things started to get better
The more I learned about how fear and anxiety works, the calmer I became, and I started sleeping better. This was the sign I was moving in the right direction. The principle of exposure therapy helped me face my fears and stop running away from them, but I had to learn way more.
My journey lasted over a year: from the place of total chaos to the complete realization that the only thing that stops me from sleeping is fear of losing sleep. It is NOT a quick fix but it is something that can set us free from the whole struggle.
Insomnia is the ultimate paradox that I’ve ever faced and I found that the way out of that paradox is paradoxical as well. Over that long period of time, I gained a lot of insights that I’m now sharing with others and I see how these insights help people feel and sleep better.
I hope you will find support and encouragement here, too.
P.S. Check out my insomnia recovery story of Daniel Erichsen’s YouTube channel.