How many times have you laid down in your bed, staring at the streetlight patterns on your ceiling while willing yourself to sleep? How many times have you spent nights going over things you have done in the past, worrying over what might happen in the future or feeling a wave of melancholy flooding your mind, evident in the tear stains on your pillow?
For some reason, my brain seems to attract the worst kind of thoughts when it’s dark and quit and I’m ready to go to bed. Ironically, such thoughts often crowd my mind after a really good day, probably because I feel like all those wonderful experiences were too good to be true and I’m always on edge, waiting for a bomb to drop. It’s almost like I’m waiting for a catastrophe to happen any second. My anxiety feeds my brain awful possibilities and scenarios, making me jump at the sound of a phone ringing or turning a random pain in my body into a symptom of an undiscovered disease (for the love of everything holy, never google your own symptoms! I’ve learnt that the hard way). Sometimes I feel like I do not even want to spend another single second in my mind.
“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.” -Turtles All The Way Down
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.” – John Milton
Sometimes you can’t help but lose yourself in a constant spiral, going inexorably down into a continuous chain of thoughts until escaping seems impossible. It’s such an exhausting process that leaves you without any energy to focus on the good things in life. I’ve always been that kind of person who plunges from a minor concern to a worst-case scenario. This sense of dread overwhelms every aspect of my life and unfortunately does not allow me to enjoy the moment. Experience has taught me however that trying to avoid these thoughts makes the situation a thousand times worse, at least for me. I have found that it is better to confront them head on, accept the fact that my brain can be a piece of shit sometimes but it is this same brain that allows me to breath, see the beauty of nature, read, run, jump and do the things that I love.
“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” I am trying to live by Newt Scamander’s philosophy and not overthink every situation in my life. It is extremely difficult, especially when you’ve always been that kind of person who wants everything perfect, and when something detracts you from your normal routine your immediate reaction is to panic and freak out. Being a perfectionist does not help at all because obviously life is not perfect. So much depends on pure chance and one should always be open to the possibility that sometimes nothing goes according to plan. I find this to be especially difficult to deal with because I love planning ahead and writing down everything that I want to do and enjoy. I build up such high expectations that when something happens that changes the whole plan, my dejection becomes extremely hard to deal with. Worrying about things out of our control will not change the outcome, but it will surely ruin the present moment and that’s what I keep on reminding myself. Life is too short and overthinking will only make it shorter because it takes away our peace of mind.
If you’re feeling particularly anxious before bed, here are a few suggestions that have helped me out:
-Listening to ambient sounds on youtube. My favourite is this peaceful Harry Potter inspired Divination Classroom .
-Read snippets from your favourite book, or read all of it!
-Write down your thoughts in your journal.
-Give your brain something to think about that involves anything that makes you happy. Maybe reimagining your favourite scene from a book or film or thinking about a cherished memory.
-Don’t hesitate to take that first step and ask for help. Sometimes the burden is too great to carry alone but there are always people who are ready to carry it with you. You ARE strong but certain situations require the strength of others as well to help us move forward.
Wishing you lots of love and peace of mind x