Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sleeplessness and the Trials of Awakening

The winter's frigid cold persists and is really weighing heavily upon my psyche. We have been down below -30˚C for a couple of weeks now, save two or three days where it warmed up almost to zero before taking a second arctic plunge. My only solace is that the forecast for the week ahead is for a warming trend and highs in the minus single digits.

Seeking balance from the cold, I went to a Moksha Yoga class yesterday with my wife and friend/massage therapist. Like Bikram Yoga, Moksha classes are conducted in hot studios and one tends to sweat a fair bit. Being a pitta body type who doesn't fair all that well with extreme heat, I was rather nervous going into this. I feared that the heat would stifle my breathing and, that being a central part of yoga practise – breath – making it for an experience rife in anxiety as opposed to de-stressing. This did not turn out to be the case and, though challenged, thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

On the subject of challenges, sleep continues to be the biggest issue in my life. Put another way, as my psychologist would say, my real issue is being awake. There's a wonderful book titled "The Worry Trap" by Chad Lejeune that my psychologist recommended to me and it sums me up in a nutshell. I am obsessed with getting a good night's sleep, so much so that it's most likely no longer the PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder that is keeping me awake, but, rather worrying about worrying about sleeping. So much of the treatment techniques and Buddhist, Taoist and Yoga stuff I read is intellectualised immediately and makes complete sense to me. It's the habitualisation and living these theories that is causing me difficulty.

For example, when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I can rationalise and see that there is no danger, yet making the anxiety dissipate – even that I know that it's totally irrational – doesn't seem to happen. The same applies to sleep. I miss a night's sleep and spend the whole day feeling self-pity for my fatigued state in tandem with dreading not getting to sleep in the coming night. My GP is trying my on Seroquel, but that doesn't help me sleep, causing me to continually return to Remeron which, while getting me to sleep, doesn't keep me there for more than four hours.

There is a bit of cause and effect at play here. I am trying to live a holistic lifestyle by eating healthy (been vegetarian for two and a half weeks now), exercising, doing Yoga, meditation and the exercises prescribed by my psychologist, and I am taking Paxil and Remeron prescribed by my doctor. In spite of all of this, anxiety, though lessening, is still an issue, and I've had three good nights of sleep in the past six weeks. Perhaps much of the issue is that I am spending so much time dealing with my issues that causes them to predominate my thoughts, ergo the sleeplessness. Perhaps this is the price of consciousness. It's difficult to truly say as my perspective is the only one I have and the only one that I am capable of having. I just know that life is a long journey and, though this is far from the lowest point that I have ever been, now is a difficult time.

In spite of how I am feeling, there is much to inspire me right now. In addition to having the privilege of raising a beautiful daughter and having pages upon pages of things written in my "Thankfulness Journal" (where I write 5 things each day that I am thankful for), I am inspired by my wife and her openness to my Eastern views, getting into Yoga and learning a bit about vegetarian cooking (our friend was showing her how to cook tofu yesterday). My massage therapist and his wife, who are also becoming very good friends, are also a source of inspiration for me in our discussions and talk of starting our own sanghas, amongst other things. Keeping my bearings focused on these things is what keeps me going through trying times.

In closing for today, you might ask what the purpose of my writing this is? For one, it's a type of journaling that assists me with my introspections. Secondly, perhaps one of you who have stumbled upon this piece is being similarly afflicted and can take some comfort in that you are not alone. For example, in this moth's issue of Fit Yoga magazine, there is an article by Bernadette Birney titled "This is Your Brain on Drugs…. And this is your Mind on Yoga" where she elaborates on her struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. When I read these kinds of articles, it's an affirmation that I am not the only one who struggles with anxiety and that it's okay to do so – all part of being human in this hi-tech, high flying 24/7 society where idealisms and reality oftentimes butt heads and we try to stay afloat. Another book that I am reading by Kabir Helminski titled "The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation" outlines how the simple premise of love and cosmic understanding of our place in the big picture. Some of that may sound a bit flakey on the surface, but, upon further exploration, there is much sense to be found in what this book and the Sufi tradition espouse.

Breathe. Be in the moment. Believe.



  • At 4:24 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.


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