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Go to bed normal, wake and get anxiety induced insomnia

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by ANewJoe, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. ANewJoe

    ANewJoe New Member

    I've made another post fairly recently, but I wanted to make this one regarding a new phenomenon that I'm currently experiencing. So I've always been a fairly anxious person, I've had bouts of insomnia where I cannot go to sleep because of the intense stress I'm feeling. But I few weeks ago I was stirring myself awake around 3am or so, and would use the bathroom, and I would get some intense tinnitus that would scare the living daylights out of me. The tinnitus has been accompanying my trigeminal neuralgia symptoms and this was at a time when I was super health conscious and worried I had something structurally catastrophic (like a tumor) inside me. Well now I've been to a neurologist and I now am coming to terms that there is nothing structurally significant inside of me. So, I've started to engage with TMS work and my symptoms have worsened, not quite in severity, but in adding more symptoms.

    So flash forward to currently, I have been waking the past nights to use the restroom, not thinking about any anxious thoughts, but in just a few moments, flashes of anxiety (and of course adrenaline, and cortesol) come flooding across me out of no where, and I cannot return to sleep. This has happened consistently now, and I wind up just lying in bed trying to exhibit acceptance of these symptoms, surrender control and observe them. But they simply do not abate. They then carry with me for basically the rest of the day until around the evening, and then the cycle repeats itself.

    I am pretty confident that this is a TMS thing. But it can't help but be a bit frustrating in that I clear my mind and make strides in playing the observer. Yet I have not had a good nights sleep in quite a while now. I assure myself that missing sleep is not dangerous, that I can still manage even without a full nights rest. But I do want this to be addressed and am seeking on how to do so. I've tried some melatonin, even some benadryl, but the anxious state is truly very powerful. I've tried mediating, I've tried simply laying there, I tried yoga, which can calm be for the moment, but then the anxiousness steadily returns. I kinda just want to choose one thing and stick with it for a while. Do I get up? Do I just lay there? I've come across Claire Weekes' works recently and her recommendation is to float, which is to say, ride the wave and surrender control. I may be overthinking this too much. I definitely know I'm expectant to return to getting full nights rest, which possibly feed the situation even still, sometimes frustration is unavoidable. The of course there's this "am I doing this right?". So any perspective from people who've endured this kind of thing before would be very appreciated.

  2. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Joe, I have been suffering from exactly the same 3 AM anxiety for decades. I got rid of it through daily meditation. I loosened up on my meditation practice, but have been fairly consistent with extensive exercise and yoga, and that kept me afloat. Recent months have been very hard on me and my anxiety-induced insomnia returned. I started meditating, increased exercise and it is slowly improving my sleep.

    I don't follow any hard rules, my response is rather opportunistic. The only hard rule is that I don't take any medications for my sleep, because I tried them and they don't work for me. There are nights when I can meditate in bed and go back to sleep, but there are nights when I end up getting up at 5 and try to take a nap during the day. The calmer is my response to a bad night, the less likely it would repeat.

    Overthinking is definitely not a good approach, and so is expectation of a single simple rule that can solve the problem. Our brains are complex and cannot be measured by a simple yardstick. There are nights when 5 hours of sleep feels good enough, there are nights when I sleep 9 hours and want more. There are nights when my bladder wakes me up after a small cup of tea at 6 pm, there are nights when I sleep all night through after a huge mug of tea at 8 pm.

    Not setting up any expectations for the night when you are going to bed is another good rule of thumb. The more you expect perfection, the more you feed your anxiety.

    Claire Weekes was a godsend to me, she helped me with my anxiety tremendously.

    Increase in anxiety and/or depression is quite common for those who are recovering from chronic pain, because the underlying causes of pain are emotional. They are all connected in our brains.

    I hope this answers your questions. Best of luck!
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  3. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Hi Y'all- I'm new (ish) to this forum, but not to Sarno. Joe, your story is me, too. I go to sleep, then wake up anxious, sometimes in an actual panic attack, and can't go back to sleep. I dread bedtime, even though I'm sleepy and tired because I dread waking up in the wee hours.

    I've had sciatic pain off and on in my right leg for the past couple of years. I did go to the doc initially to make sure it wasn't a blood clot or something, and then she sent me to PT, which was pretty useless. Sarno helped the most-- I'd listen to his book at night in bed before sleep. I walk for about an hour every morning, but stopped when the sciatic pain got to be too bad. I resumed my walks this past January and have been faithful every day.

    But the sciatic pain has gotten worse and now I also have excruciating pain in the joint of my right big toe. I do have some diabetic neuropathy and I'm also on a post-cancer estrogen-blocker that is known for causing joint pain. But I've been on it for five years and just now I'm getting joint pain?? I keep thinking of what Sarno says, "A broken bone heals in six weeks, so if you have pain that is still intense after a very long time, it's not structural."

    I realized this morning (not for the first time, but today it really hit me) that I live in fear. I'm 71, have no family at all, and live alone. This enforced (and necessary IMHO) lockdown is seriously messing with my head. On top of my lifelong chronic fear and belief that the world is not a safe place, COVID-19 has added a new layer of fear. I know I'm not alone in feeling that way, except I AM all alone in my house 24/7.

    It would not even be prudent to try to see my doctor about this pain-- I've canceled other routine medical visits. Not to mention, I don't think PT, injections, drugs, or surgery would solve my problem.

    As my late husband (a pilot) used to say, "I'm out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas."
  4. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @BonnieLass, you don't have to be out of airspeed, altitude or ideas. You identified your problem with great precision. You need to start addressing your emotional state. Not that your situation is the best possible - but our outlook at life is all about attitude. You need to confront your fear, and I don't know a better doctor for that than Claire Weekes. Fear breeds anxiety, anxiety breeds pain. Dr. Weekes wrote books and recorded tapes, find those and start listening and reading. Remember, as Dr. Sarno said, we are stronger than we think.
  5. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    I have read Weekes. A couple of times. I'll do it again. Can't sleep because the pain is so bad. :-(
  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Try her audio. I played it many times every day until it was embedded in my brain. I believe that audio has a totally different impact on the brain. Try meditation. It calmed my nerves and my pain was less the day after.
  7. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Thanks I will. Which one? "hope and Help for Your Nerves"? Only got two hours sleep before the pain got me up...
  8. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Check out links to her audio here: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/claire-weekes-audio.2569/ (Claire Weekes Audio). I played her audios several times every day.

    And remember, fear is your worst enemy. Things started looking much better for me after I wrote a good-bye letter to my fear and kept talking to myself about my fear. Recognizing your fear in your every thought is already winning half the battle, but also consider meditation. I started meditating and once I was able to meditate for at least an hour, my nervous system started calming down.

    Also, if you are an obsessively analytical person like me, this may be very helpful, it explains the mechanism of brain-generated pain:
  9. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Thanks. I do meditate every day. I also belong to Schubiner's site. :) We're old hands, eh?
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I guess I just had a better luck? How long is your daily meditation?
  11. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    10-15 mins twice a day
    I use Headspace and Calm.com
  12. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    After weeks of trial and error, I concluded that the real healing begins after first 20 minutes of meditation. To really benefit from meditation, I needed at least 45 minutes or more. Below is what I wrote about my experience with meditation - see if any of this helps.

    Meditation is an exercise in mindfulness.

    Meditation, an essential component of ancient healing arts like Ayurveda or Chinese medicine, requires more discipline and commitment from the patient than taking herbs or lying on the table for an acupuncture session. So, in our Western world of instant gratification, meditation as a healing procedure is not likely to be recommended even by the most sophisticated practitioners of Chinese medicine.

    For those skeptical of meditation as a healing practice, I recommend that you explore the website from the National Institute of Health 11) .

    If anyone told me three years ago that I would be able to sit still for an hour and a half “not doing anything” – I would not have believed them. As a matter of fact, I prided myself on being an energetic go-getter who needed to be on the move all the time. A long-time yoga practitioner, I could never succeed in savasana – a corpse pose, which is a form of meditation. Rarely could I stop going over my to-do list, or dwelling on an unpleasant conversation at work, or thinking about what to cook for dinner while in savasana.

    Years ago, as I learned about meditation from a book on yoga, I tried a guided group meditation once, but could not last for more than five minutes. I found sitting still an unbearable and useless exercise. As it turned out, “not doing anything” was hard work and it had a purpose that I didn’t understand at the time. So, I never meditated - until the threat of disability became so real that I was willing to try just about anything.

    One day, I read on the CRPS forum that meditation helped someone to reduce pain symptoms. It was consistent with what I learned at the pain clinic, so I signed up for the meditation class. A one-day class consisted of about four, 45-minute meditations, with talks and breaks in between. It was hard, but I stuck through it.

    After taking the meditation class, I started meditating daily in the evening. It was hard. My mind would start wandering, my anxiety would start rising about 10-15 minutes into it. To make matters worse, I was in pain from sitting still. As I was sitting, I experienced increase in pain not only in my hands, but also in my arms, legs, and feet. Since I lost flexibility in my joints to dystonia, I could not sit on the floor cross-legged anymore, so I had to use a chair, but the pain was still present.

    I tried all kinds of meditation: guided, unguided, walking, sitting, with music or without music – until I finally found my groove.

    I soon found out that a guided meditation did not work for me in any form. I was too easily distracted by the voice of the instructor, by the instructions he/she was giving me, but most of all, by the prescriptive nature of instructions. I could not focus on my breath, whether it was on the count of four, or two, or any given number. Instructions were amplifying my anxiety.

    Body scan, one of the most popular forms of self-guided meditation, did not work for me either. A prescribed sequence in which I was supposed to focus on relaxing my toes, then feet, then ankles, then legs etc. - until I reached my face - was an annoyance. I would get lost in thoughts halfway along my body or forget whether I took care of my right side before switching to the left side and so on. I bought various audio guides on meditation and tried to follow recommendations on proper cross-legged sitting, on keeping my back straight, on counting the elephants instead of breaths – and was getting nowhere. Especially hard was sitting cross-legged, since my joints were painful and cemented by dystonia.

    I finally decided to just sit on the couch, rest my arms on the pillows, close my eyes, and do nothing: no counting of breaths, no body scan, no imagining a beautiful trail in the woods or a place where I wanted to be as a child.

    Surprisingly, the less effort I put into following the rules, the better results I was getting. I came to believe that people like me who tend to be obsessive perfectionists and over-achievers, are too uptight and tense to follow instructions. Any perceived deviation from instructions was generating extra anxiety, thus ruining the experience. So, the best way to start was to abandon any prescriptions and ease my way into the practice, which is what I did.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
    MWsunin12 likes this.
  13. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Very interesting!
  14. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    there is more:
    Sitting Meditation

    Once I put my mind to it, in a few weeks I was able to meditate for an hour or more, effortlessly. What was truly amazing, a day or two after a long meditation session, my pain level was a little bit lower. So, on Saturday and Sunday, I would meditate for an hour or as long as I could handle, and by Monday I would feel better.
    Eventually, I found a few things that helped me even more in my meditation practice.
    I learned that after about 15 minutes into the practice, my anxiety level would start rising, to the point that I would feel compelled to get up and do something: eat, check my email, do dishes, put a jacket on – anything to break the unbearable rendezvous with myself. Sometimes I would feel a rise in emotions, more often sadness or a sense of shame over some prior experience or even something that I could not identify. The simple act of acknowledging my anxiety and my feelings and telling myself that it was OK to be anxious somehow took the edge off it, and after another ten minutes of wrestling with my anxiety I would be calm and at peace.
    Unlike guided meditation, very quiet rhythmic music was not distracting but rather helpful. I, however, went through a couple dozen tunes on YouTube that did not resonate well with me. Judging by the likes they earned, they were good for many people, but not for me at that moment. I found several that I use to date. They are soothing and calming on some days but not on others, so I choose the one that works for my mood of the day.
    Somatic meditation, which is focusing on the sensations in the body and channeling emotions into the sensations, became my practice. (More on channeling the emotions into sensations in the section Frozen Emotions.)
    I recognized that at the times of stress my stomach and belly turn into a tight knot. As I sit down for the meditation, I start with focusing on two areas, one above and one below the navel. For those familiar with Eastern healing arts, I am referring to a solar chakra and a hara chakra (dan tien). After about 20 minutes, I start feeling relaxed in that area and a heat wave starts rising in my body. Past that point, I enter the healing phase of meditation – at least what it feels to me. I find it very important to meditate for at least 30-40 minutes. The longer your session, the better the results. The same rule applies to all other types of meditational activities, which I will cover later. Being unconcerned with the end time of the meditation is also very important, as it removes undue stress and eases your way into the meditative state.
    Short session or long, not every time do I feel the desired effect of meditation. I simply learned not to get upset if it does not work well on a certain day. Being able to let go of disappointment with yourself is a virtue. When I let go of my preconceived idea of how my meditation must proceed or end, I learned that there are many ways to achieve desired outcomes. Sitting meditation is not the only option. There are other types of meditative activities, such as swimming, walking, running, or watching the ocean waves. They do not become a meditation unless you are undertaking them mindfully, i.e. paying attention to sensations in your body, letting the thoughts that race through your mind come and go, recognizing your emotions and thoughts as manifestations of a restless mind.
    I always loved swimming, and a once-a-week swim became a godsend during my first year of recovery when I was still in severe pain. Swimming is very gentle on the muscles, and it helped me a lot by stretching them without stressing them out. I also made sure that I swam at least one kilometer at a time, eventually increasing my regimen to a mile, so I could achieve a meditative effect over the course of 40 minutes or longer.
    More on another form of the active meditation that I use – in the section Running Meditation. One day, I wrote down what was going on in my mind during my weekly runs.
  15. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Is the whole meditation story in your book (which I just bought)?
  16. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    There is more. The gist of it is the entire section 5. You don't need to bother with chapters 1, 2 and 3, you must have been through that yourself and you don't need to be pursuaded that "it is in your head and not in your bones". The main trick is to figure out whether you need to go Freudian route (looking for past trauma) or fear/anxiety route (healing your nervous system) or both, and that requires a lot of introspection and mindfulness.
  17. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    No, actually I haven't been through what you describe. I've rarely been sick or felt ill or in pain in my life. A couple of discrete periods, but mostly not. However, I have been close to five men over the past 40 years who have suffered a lot. In fact four of them have died. One of those, the last, was in constant pain near the end of his life. We would meet at Starbucks and he couldn't sit for more than half an hour. He was also a committed meditator. He died two years ago in June. Long story...
    The skepticism of doctors and their irritation at patients who actually know something-- don't get me started. I love (and am enraged by) the medical mystery stories in the New York Times and Washington Post where people go to a dozen doctors until someone finally LISTENS. In a recent one, a woman had fallen down several times, and a podiatrist told her she was "just clumsy." :rolleyes: Turns out she has Parkinson's.
    I'm looking forward to reading your story.
    All the best to you! :)
  18. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    To bury four close people is a big trauma. Be kind to yourself! Best of luck!
  19. ANewJoe

    ANewJoe New Member

    Thank you @TG957 ,

    I still have been struggling with coming to terms with insomnia myself, I'm at a stage where my anxiety will cling from one thing to the next. These days, it dwells on the sleep I've lost, and whether I'll be getting a good night's rest. I've been working on the concept of outcome independence, I also tried reading Barry McDonagh's book called Dare, Which kinda expounds upon Claire's work on anxiety. I think that meditation is probably the answer to my very worried and busy mind. Like you, I've also had mixed success with guided meditation, and have now moved on to trying Transcendental (aka mantra) meditation, where I have a chant that has no lingual significance, and repeat the phrase in my head, redirecting my thoughts back whenever they wander. Obviously I've only just started this, so the results are pending, but it does feel a bit better to me than guided meditations so far. I want to expand them into longer an longer sessions as time and practice goes on.

    I think outcome independence will also be important with this as well, because as you mentioned, sometimes it does not achieve the desired effect. I've also recently tried doing yoga, there's a youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene, https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene (Yoga With Adriene), and I am getting successful results sometimes from this as well. My biggest hurdle is my perfectionism, wanting to do everything correctly, and express doubt if whether I am, my inner critic is truly out of control sometimes. But this is why I love Adriene's yoga tutorials, because she will repeatedly make it a point to tell you not to worry if you're doing it right, and invites you to do the poses in your own way.

    I have had some luck with a concept in Barry's book that discusses fear and excitement as two sides of the same coin, it's happened a few times, where I was able to reinterpret my fear as excitement, and then the knots in the stomach, etc. loosens a bit, and the energy feels much more positive. But of course I then will have my fearful mind stop by to pay a visit which throws a wrench in the whole thing. This journey has been immensely difficult to navigate, because I literally cannot stop that voice from popping up that asks "am I doing this right?" and "will I get better". I think that in my case, I should apply meditation in these moments of doubt, and liberally in general at first, to kind of weed out all of these bursts of thoughts. The tricky part thought is to try and interpret it as not an act of desperation, but practice.
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
  20. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Joe, I think you are on the right path with meditation. I believe firmly that meditation is the most private and intimate activity and each person has their own version of it that is unique. Keep trying until it feels right. Most importantly, it is not what you do, it is how you do it. Paying little attention to the letter, more attention to the spirit of it. I did yoga for 15 years and had no idea how to do it right - until I got sick and started meditating. Meditation enriched my yoga practice substantially, although I keep slipping into the gymnastics yoga all the time. But each one of us is a life-long learner, so I know tomorrow I will be better at it :=).

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