Thursday, April 8, 2010

Depression Symptoms: Sleep Disruption

Waking in the early morning hours and not being able to go back to sleep; insomnia

Excess sleep, fatigue

Sleep disruptions of both sorts have bothered me, though I’ve had more trouble with fatigue than insomnia. For the last many months I’ve discovered that when I feel apprehensive, or obliged to do something that seems overwhelmingly difficult, I get sleepy. I suppose it’s a practical defense mechanism. Understanding the connection between fatigue and anxiety is new for me. A few days ago I had counseling appointment and knew it would be helpful but dreaded it. I really wanted to stay home in bed. Understanding the fatigue is helping me fight it. Having an idea of why I feel so tired sometimes helps motivate me to fight the urge.

Periodically I’ve had trouble with waking at night and not being able to get back to sleep. For a while when I was obsessively anxious about the conflict at church I’d wake keep rehearsing the series of offenses and trying to find ways to solve them. This wasn’t ordinary lying-awake-to-solve-problems stuff. It was pointless and I felt I could not stop it.

I still wake sometimes at night fall into unhelpful patterns of thought while I lie in the quiet darkness.

Maybe I’ve done something horribly wrong.

Maybe I don’t belong in the Lutheran church.

God, am I totally missing something?

I’m swimming in an ocean of misery, mistakes, pointlessness and I can’t see the shore.

I’m just starting to learn how to deal with this. I have to open my eyes and shake my head to get out of it. I realized I also need something else to think about. At first I tried praying, but my mind wanders easily from prayer back to self-doubt. Then I tried rehearsing scripture. A phrase from Ephesians 3 came to mind, “I pray that you ... grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” I started to think of God’s love as the ocean, wider, longer, higher, and deeper than I could ever understand. I was swimming in an ocean of his love, an absolutely safe place to be. That’s a good thing to ponder in the middle of the night.

To read all the posts in the depression symptoms series, go here.

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Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.