Not Just One Thing

One of the most frustrating parts of having a human body is that more than one thing can go wrong at a time.  Acquiring a headache doesn’t undo the fact that you threw your back out the other day.  We try not to talk too much about pile-ups of aches, pains, and illness since no one enjoys hearing about them, and complainers are judged and shunned.  But the reality of multiple problems is still there.

There’s a medical term for this phenomenon: co-occurring.  Diagnosing medical and mental health disorders gets tricky since they can come in twos and threes.  This is terribly frustrating when you are trying to get a clear and consistent answer from health professionals as to what will be a helpful treatment, since the answer is not straightforward.  

It is very common for insomnia to co-occur with depression and anxiety.  Each one can cause the other, creating a vicious cycle.  It is natural to feel shame when faced with a problem that you can't resolve; no one wants to be seen as a complainer, after all.   Shame is no help in easing sleep or recovering from mental stress, however (since, of course, it is mental stress).  Approaching the feelings around sleep loss, such as shame and frustration, opens a gate of escape from this cycle.  When the twin challenges of mental stress and sleep issues gain slack in their tether, there is more room to move, more energy to pursue action, and less strain on the self.