Life After Sleeping Pills

Life After Sleeping PillsAbout 10 years ago, I had a little diet soda problem. I also had a little anxiety problem. Neither of which were actually little.

The diet soda issue started when I was searching for a new career. I decided to go back to school to be a secondary science teacher. I started taking classes at school and online while working more than full time, building my own business, training for an ironman, and coaching and subbing at the local middle school to get to know the teachers/admin to help get a job after I got my certification.

Studying was tedious, time consuming, and boring, so I began mindless snacking to keep me awake and alert. I quickly gained 5 pounds in the first month, and if you know me, you know that freaked me out. I pondered my options and came up with nothing positive, including the one I chose. I actually thought I was brilliant!! Diet soda!! I could sip one while I was studying to stave off boredom with the added bonus of caffeine to keep me alert. I was so smart!

Well, needless to say (again…if you know me) one can daily quickly turned into a six pack. No biggie though…it was cheap, no calories, and got me through my days. In fact, I even started losing weight (bonus). I ended up at one of my lowest weights as an adult which sparked a long, torturous love affair with diet soda…but that’s a whole other story I’ll share one day.

About that same time, I was also feeling more and more anxious in my life (as if you couldn’t tell…I think my anxiety went up just writing the last 5 minutes). I had spent all my adult life (and half my childhood) feeling an overwhelming need to perform and be better. I was a deeply empathetic perfectionist which was a recipe for disaster. I was feeling like a failure in my relationship and my career and my highs were getting higher and my lows were getting lower.

My therapist referred me to a psychiatrist who prescribed 3 pills, one was a sleeping pill. A half a pill a night would take the edge off, but she also told me to stop loading the caffeine, especially in the late afternoon/evening…like that will happen!

Since I was much smarter than my doctor, I decide a better solution for me (since I know myself better than she possibly could in one visit) was to keep the sodas and take the whole sleeping pill to counteract the effects if the caffeine! Genius!

Fast forward 2 years…I dive heavily into personal growth, decide I don’t want to be a teacher, quit my job, stop my meds cold turkey, and start working toward creating a life I love. Sounds perfect right?

Except now I couldn’t sleep…oh, and I was still addicted to diet soda.

So I started taking over the counter sleeping pills. They say “non habit forming” on the container which is hilarious because if you sleep with them and can’t sleep without them, you will take them daily…that sounds like a habit to me!

Where were we? Oh yes…sleeping pills. So for the past 7 years I have been taking OTC pills to sleep.

About 85 times I have “tried” to stop, but there were so many more reasons to keep taking them.

Between getting a good night sleep leading up to a race to sleeping through snorers at retreats to making sure I was rested while traveling, I always found a reason why I needed to take them “just one more week”.

Over the past year I have been making small changes in my life to cleanse my mind and body more and more. I live a pretty clean life and I got to the point where there wasn’t much left to take out so I decided at the beginning of this month that when my bottle ran out, I was DONE! Time to work on relaxation or meditation or whatever it is I need to do to help my body unwind and sleep the natural way. I am ready to trust that when my body needs it, it will sleep.

I am super nervous because when I am tired I under-hydrate and overeat. When I am tired I am cranky and emotional. When I am tired my skin breaks out and my legs itch. When I am tired I procrastinate and am unproductive. All these things scare me. But using sleep as an excuse to continue being/feeling this way isn’t who I want to be, so I am willing to give up those stories and start taking 100% responsibility for 100% of my life.

PHEW! I’m exhausted! Of course…it is 3am…couldn’t sleep…

Please share your best sleeping tips here! I need all the help I can get!

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