13 Years of Insomnia - A Client Testimonial
Insomnia on and off for years. Unable to tolerate the treatment offered. Sound familiar? Here, one of our clients tells their story in their own words.
I had suffered for 13 years with intermittent bouts of insomnia. The episodes would be preceded by some event or a build up of stress that would have set off my anxiety.
I would then find it very difficult to sleep, some nights not even sleeping at all. I would visit the GP or Psychiatrist and be prescribed a cocktail of medication to reduce my anxiety. After a few months, this would then calm me enough to be able to sleep again satisfactorily.
My psychiatrist told me I needed to be on medication for life. I was taking two types of drugs – each at very high doses. I didn't like the idea of being on medication for life and I didn't like a lot of the side effects I was experiencing. Additionally, I wasn't offered any extra advice about how to cope with the insomnia.
Luckily, someone suggested I contacted The Good Sleep Clinic.
How The Good Sleep Clinic Helped Me
I met Maja (a clinical psychologist) first and she listened to my predicament. I explained how I would like to come off the tablets and learn to be able to manage my anxiety better (and consequently my sleep as well). She came up with a plan for our therapy sessions and also recommended I see Zoe (the GP she works with closely) to discuss a plan for reducing my medication.
I discussed a plan with Zoe for tapering off the tablets. This was done gradually so as to not experience a relapse or any bad side effects from coming of the medication too quickly.
Learning about sleep
Zoe also explained some of the 'mechanics' of how sleep works and I found that particularly helpful. Being too stimulated makes my adrenaline rise and bubble. This would likely make it difficult for me to sleep, which would raise my anxiety and so a vicious cycle would start. I now fully appreciate the need to start unwinding as bedtime approaches among other techniques to be calmer.
During the same period I was having sessions with Maja to examine some of the factors from my past that could have contributed to my heightened levels of anxiety. We also discussed the events or situations that were still making me particularly stressed.
I realised my coping skills could be improved and she helped to show me ways to manage better. I came to realise what was fuelling my anxiety which gave me the opportunity to work on that and the insomnia from all angles.
I could recognise my risk factors, know how to stop any anxiety progressing at that stage, and know what my options were if things were feeling like they were becoming a bit overwhelming.
Maja, Zoe and I collaborated to devise a "relapse prevent plan" - a resource to look at any time if I needed extra support. This was tailored specifically to my situation. Maja and Zoe are both extremely professional and very knowledgeable about anxiety and sleep problems.
It was such a relief to talk to people who really understood what I was experiencing. When I first met them, they really put me at my ease, so I have found it a really positive experience working with them. They have both been extremely supportive throughout.
What my sleep is like now
I’m now on a very low dose of medication and Zoe thinks I am doing nearly 99% of the work myself. So, from the prospect of taking loads of medication for the rest of my life and the horrible side effects I would have had to endure – and also no advice on how to cope in the future, I now have a life to look forward to free of those. I also have the tools that are useful in everyday life to cope naturally with any stressors. My quality of life feels amazing.
The Coronavirus isolation period has been a real test and bought on a lot of extra challenges. The fact that I have been coping and sleeping fine throughout (and several months in) is testament to Maja and Zoe that their advice and support has worked really well.
It's also extremely comforting to know that I can contact Maja or Zoe directly at any time if I start struggling a bit. I can wholeheartedly recommend The Good Sleep Clinic to anyone suffering from insomnia.