I have dealt with anxiety since I was a teenager and for a while I took all kinds of medications to help "take the edge off" and make life a little more manageable. After years of feeling like a guinea pig, testing dozens of different anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications I finally decided it was time to try things on my own. It wasn't until after I stopped taking them that I realized just how much they clouded my mind. Everything started to feel and look much clearer for the first time in years and I actually started to feel a lot better.
Since stopping those medications about 5 years ago I have dealt with my fair share of anxiety attacks and panic attacks but with a little slow breathing or meditation I can usually work through my fears and overcome them. That is, until recently.
A few days before Christmas I was scheduled to go in for a sleep study. My doctor thinks I might be narcoleptic and wanted to run a couple tests to rule out sleep apnea and a few other things. I was actually looking forward to this since I have been feeling extremely fatigued all the time since I was about 14 years old. So I'm in my room for the night and my sleep technician starts to describe the procedure. I was scheduled to take two different tests, the first a regular sleep study to rule out apnea, that would last from 8:30pm to 7am the next morning. The second test would be performed the next day from 7am to 6:30pm and I would be attempting to take a nap every two hours and be given 20 minutes to fall asleep each time. This seemed like a breeze since I feel exhausted all the time! I figured I would have no problem falling asleep when asked.
That night, I am sitting in a chair and my technician is applying all of the wires, belts and tubes. At this point, I'm feeling a little nervous but pretty relaxed as he explains how things are going to work and what each little sensor does. If you've never had a sleep study done before you would be surprised at just how many sensors they need to attach to your body while you sleep! I had at least 6 on my scalp, two under my eyes, tubes up my nose (pushing on my sore, new nose ring), two sensors attached behind my ears, two under my chin, one on my forehead, a few on my arms, legs and sides and two belts tightly across my chest. When my technician finished applying them and told me I could sleep in any position I felt most comfortable I looked at him like he had 4 heads! How was I supposed to move?
After lights out I closed my eyes and tried to start falling asleep. That's when it started. My mind and my heart started to race, my palms became sweaty, I felt like I couldn't catch my breath and I kept thinking "Go figure! I can fall asleep in minutes and sleep through an earthquake any other time but now when I really need to, I won't be able to sleep!" Over the course of the next hour I dozed off only for a few minutes and ended up feeling worse and worse as time went on. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and needed to sit up so I called the technician into my room and told him how I felt. He was very sympathetic and took off all of the wires, tubes and belts and after about 15 minutes I started to feel a little bit better. I don't know what is was, if I just became claustrophobic or what but I was never going to be able to keep all of those wires on for as long as the test required. I've been in tight spaces before and never felt claustrophobic, or at least not as bad as I did that night.
After the fact, I feel dumb about not finishing the test because of how extremely important it was to me in the first place. For 12 years I have been struggling to figure out why I feel so tired all the time and now that I get a chance to figure out what's going on, I blow it. I am under an extreme amount of stress right now in my personal life and I feel like that might have had a huge impact on how that night played out but I'm hoping I'll get another chance to figure this out soon.
Have you ever felt so anxious or so afraid that you couldn't finish something important you needed to do? How do you overcome your worst anxieties? I'd love to hear any suggestions!