My Insomnia Story, by Harold Goodman
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I am a physician who cured my own insomnia using the approach of Dr. Sarno.
For five years I suffered from severe insomnia. The accompanying sleep deprivation led to my losing my medical practice and what was left of my life. It was the hardest thing I have ever endured.
There are many causes of insomnia. In my experience, most insomnia has an emotional basis in the unconscious. When we drift into sleep we are leaving the zone of the conscious mind behind and completely at the mercy of the unconscious.
When purely physical reasons have been ruled out ( ex. sleep apnea) then the only thing remaining is an emotional cause.
I received extensive psychotherapy as well as many other treatments. Finally, I used increasingly potent doses of the short-term sleep medication, Ambien. Even though this allowed me to have two to three hours a night of sleep for which I was grateful, it wasn't enough to get me over the hump. I felt horrible but, technically, I was alive.
I discontinued the Ambien when I had reached such a high dose that it became dangerous to continue. I then switched over to a very addictive benzodiazepine drug, Klonopin. I took more and more of this medicine before I finally reached a very high dose that allowed me to get a few hours of interrupted sleep.
A medical colleague assured me that I would never be able to live without this drug. The side effects were horrible and I hated the idea of being addicted to anything but it helped me to survive a bit longer.
After five years I decided to take my own "TMS medicine" and began to wean myself off of the drug and apply the approach of Dr. Sarno whom I have seen patients with.
Regardless of what I experienced, I reminded myself that I did not have a sleep problem. The cause was my unconscious. The more I did this, the less of an issue was the sleep. Keep in mind that I had become so obsessed over getting sleep that, like most TMS patients, I had made it the focus of my life and made myself crazy.
Finally, I began to sleep better and better. At one point, a bit apprehensively, when I had gotten down to a minimal dose of the drug, I stopped it entirely. For a few days I had varied sleep but then it just became what I used to have before I entered the world of insomnia; no big deal. You climb in bed and close your eyes. That's it.
I still awake off and on but remain in bed. Then I drift back into sleep. I awake refreshed. I take no more sleep-related medications. I am happily back at work and have reclaimed my life.
I spoke with Dr. Sarno regarding insomnia the last time I visited him in NYC. He told me that he has seen many similar cases but does not specialize in insomnia. "They call me the back guy," he said. So people with insomnia rarely seek him out for treatment.
I know from my own experience that most insomnia will respond to TMS-oriented therapy. I know because I have been there.
Every case of insomnia is different and must, like all TMS cases, be diagnosed by a physician.
In some cases, like my own, the judicious use of medications may be helpful at the beginning to lessen the effects of sleep deprivation which stresses the system and makes recovery even more difficult. We must break the cycle that makes it harder for those with insomnia to recover. A TMS-oriented physician can diagnose and manage such cases.
Note: Do not attempt to wean yourself off of similar medications without the supervision of a physician. If you do it too fast, you may go through horrible withdrawal symptoms and be forced to get back on the drug for relief. The reason is because these drugs totally rewire the way your nervous system works. You need time to come off of them.
Harold Goodman, DO
Silver Spring, Maryland
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