It’s almost 5am and I was jolted awake by a nightmare a couple of hours ago that my students were hanging off a cliff. I’m not pleading for a psychological analysis of the dream. That I can work out easily by myself.
Remedies; there are aplenty, apparently, and I have tried the following:
- Moving away from the bedroom when I wake up at some un-Godly hour to do work or read or write or listen to mindfulness recordings. I shouldn’t really be using electronic devices, and I should launch the TV out of the window (it’s stationed in the bedroom), but for the next two resources, they are needed.
- Mindfulness apps, but I found myself analyzing my thoughts and anxieties even more, therefore worrying more. Many recordings say, “Just observe the thought.” However, my subconscious mind finds it hard to separate the words observe and think more about it.
- Positive affirmations, which I like to an extent, apart from the cheesy background music. Sometimes my mind takes it on board, although listening to affirmations telling me I’m brilliant at 3am after an hour’s sleep is a bit unrealistic and irritating. However, it’s important to batter down the negative spiral, and positivity is good for leadership in the classroom. If anyone knows of any good positive affirmation websites, let me know.
- Stop beating myself up; not easy when you’re new to teaching. You’re mind magnifies mistakes. I’m learning my mother’s mantra of being good enough, while embarking on my sister’s philosophy of taking it all with a pinch of salt and a sense of humour.
- Giving up caffine wasn’t that hard to do. Caffine-free tea is a nice replacement.
- Giving up alcohol has been a bit harder at gatherings, and they can mix rather fatally I have read with sleeping or anxiety reducing pills. A nice whiskey can send you to sleep, but it doesn’t keep you in slumberland.
- A worry notebook, although this makes me worry more, a bit like mindfulness.
- Benzos; I have been warned about them. They reduce stress, but they lose their effect after a while and they’re highly addictive. I had a fine sleep when my wife gave me one a couple of weeks ago. Since trying to come off, I have had rebound anxiety and this has got messy. This is where a doctor comes in, who I will see next week.
- Melatonin; a verbal tablet that seems a bit lost on me at the moment. It is supposed to re-establish a more normal body clock. I’m not sure of the medical mechanics behind it, but they have been useful in the past.
- Thyroid test; I was born without one, or an inactive one. When the brain needs more chemicals than the levothyroxine produces, we have an issue.
- Meals; my appetite is dead with my stomach in knots. I’ve lost a lot of weight which makes me look healthier. Note the word look, because I certainly don’t feel it. I try to eat, but the nerves say no. This is dangerous, especially in an active job like teaching.
- Introducing a go-to-bed hour, although my mind has no problems dropping off. It’s the waking up at the witch’s hour I have a problem with. The other night I fell asleep with my clothes on and double locked the front door from the inside preventing my wife from entering when she finished late from work. Alone in a Tegucigalpan street at 10:30pm isn’t a great place to be. Luckily her parents live close by. I jolted awake at 1:30am wondering where my wife was, only to see a load of missed calls and unhappy text messages on my phone. Good morning, guilt. Cue grovelling. Jokes about me accidentally on purpose ignoring her calls have been made, but I’m more grateful that nothing happened to her.
- Exercise; running is great, but I must admit, thinking about doing anything else other than class plans gives me panic. I need a worry hour, I know. But this is much easier said than done.
Suffering these jolts or anxiety attacks aren’t nice, suffice to say. You want a instant relief so you can feel human again and function more effectively the next day.
It terms of the anxiety jolt, I have written a poem.
They’re in the HOUSE,
They’re looking at you.
Eyes open. Sighing on my side. Facing the window. Yes, AWAKE. BANG.
The class plans.
Light on the phone. Says it’s 2am. FUCK. Dark outside. Rain. The poor people in the rain. Think of them.
The back talk; no class management.
Wife asleep. Lonely with manic husband. Disappointment sets in. Then comes frustration…
The smiles, the noun verbs, the low grades.
So, Mind. We had a deal. I was sleeping tonight. What happened there?
The voices go. Faces disappear. To see them again, A FEW HOURS LATER.
Why do it; this jolting and prodding and goading? Let me sleep.
Let me be.
Ha! YEAH, just try it.
And I can’t. Another prayer to God. “Why am I forsaken?”
Take your book.
“Why are you doing this?”
Take your pen.
Cry silently to the cold air.
And think, think, think.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Have you any remedies you would like to share? Let me know what you think of the poem.