Sleeping the Pain Away
South Platte Counseling is excited to announce our new blog series called “Mental Health and Me,” where we will have one of our clients anonymously and openly talk about their mental health journey about a topic they’ve personally experienced.
We are starting this series in hopes this helps de-stigmatize the conversation around mental health, therapy, and or counseling. We want to let people know that mental health is an individual journey and a ubiquitous life experience.
With that being said, let’s read about one person’s experience with this week’s topic: depression napping.
I’ve always been someone who has really enjoyed sleeping. After a long night shift? Show me my bed and all my problems will be solved for a few hours. My bed was my sanctuary, and I loved being in it. Sleeping in on the weekends? Yes, please! Vacations? That’s no time to wake up early and be productive – it’s time to rest and recharge! It was a vacation, after all. I was what you might call a “sleepy girl.” It was quite a happy pastime for me, and I was exceptionally good at it.
Fast forward to a few drastic life changes, and all compounded around the same time. I was recently divorced, moved to a new state, and went back to school for a complete career change (in a program I felt I was floundering in). I was struggling in all aspects of my life, and I was very overwhelmed. I didn’t feel like I had too much going on, but I was drowning in my thoughts. The only way I knew how to manage and get away from everything for a brief time was to do what I had always done – go to sleep. Take a nap. Rest and recuperate, and I figured I’d feel better when I woke up. I can get back to everything then. But that’s never how it worked out. Little did I know at the time, I was struggling with undiagnosed depression (and had been for a significant amount of time). Sleeping was the only way I knew how to deal with what was going on in my mind and my life without proper resources.
In my new, small apartment, my desk was right next to my bed. Honestly, it was a little too convenient. When I would sit down at my bedside desk to work, I would get completely overwhelmed with everything I had to learn and do for school. I couldn’t figure out what or how to do anything because there was so much to do. Then it would spiral into severe negative thoughts about my ability to learn and how smart I was (or wasn’t). Wasn’t I better than this? Why is this so hard right now? I would get so downtrodden on myself, and then that would affect my self-worth. It was a terrible cycle that I couldn’t climb out of or break. I would fight with two halves of myself about pushing through or giving in to what I felt I needed. I didn’t know how to deal with these feelings any other way. I didn’t think I was running away from anything or hiding – I was managing. I couldn’t deal with doing anything, so I decided to do nothing. I would half-heartedly convince myself that I would feel better after, and then I could stop hating myself.
I would nap for a few hours, and then I would wake up and resent the fact that I had wasted yet another day. I would try to get back to my work, and I would just find myself in a shame spiral because I “should” be so much more productive than I had been. I felt even worse about myself and promised that tomorrow would be different. I would get my act together then. Tomorrow would be the day. I’ll forgive myself for today and be cautiously hopeful for tomorrow; I’ll be “better” then.
Even though I had slept a significant amount in the middle of the day, I would still sleep through the night. Then tomorrow would come, and it would be as the day previously. My depression made me so mentally and physically fatigued that all I could think about was resting. Sleeping would make me feel better – and it would because I thought that’s what my body needed, but then it wouldn’t because my mind would start to hate myself again and all the time I was wasting, but I couldn’t break out and do anything different. All my gumption had disappeared.
I met with a friend of mine during this time, and she asked me what I had done yesterday. You know, the usual small-talk sort of thing. I lightheartedly laughed and said, “Oh, I depression napped all day.” As if it was a throwaway comment of simple, carefree self-deprecation and wasn’t something that was taking up a majority of my days. I could get the work done I needed, but it was arduous. Everything was a challenge. I knew this wasn’t me, but yet somehow, it was totally me. Was this who I was now? I couldn’t say anything was “wrong,” but I knew something wasn’t right. My friend looked at me with concern, but I brushed it casually off and said, “oh, I’ll feel better when it’s sunny out.” My friend, in turn, told me, “But it IS sunny out.” That simple sentence hit me hard. My friend was totally right. Something inside of me felt amiss, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. It was something inside of me that hadn’t always been there. At that moment, I had the stunning self-realization that this was an excuse I was making to shrug off something too heavy for me to carry. I told my friend that I would speak to someone, and a few days later, that’s precisely what I did. I knew this behavior and feeling were far out of character, and I wanted to somehow find my way back to myself.
Thanks to proper mental health counseling, learning life coping and management skills, the quality of my life has immensely improved. I only take naps occasionally now when I’m actually tired and no longer use it as an escape mechanism. Seeking help when I felt something was wrong has only enriched my life and allowed me to manage my emotions better and, in turn, my life!
Please feel free to call us anytime: 303-532-4476