Insomnia Labels

I believe that learning to be careful in how I related insomnia to myself was helpful in overcoming insomnia. For example, I learned to not label and refer to myself as an “insomniac.” An insomniac, of course, is usually considered to be someone who suffers from chronic insomnia.

Labels can have a very powerful effect whether you use them to describe yourself or someone else.

That’s because people tend to live up to labels they’ve been given. For example, if you constantly label yourself a stupid person, you’ll probably find ways (subconsciously) to live up to that label.

Instead of calling myself an insomniac (which sounds like a wild-eyed crazy person to me, by the way), I started referring to myself as “someone who is temporarily suffering from insomnia.” Yes, that’s more of a mouthful, but it succeeds in that it does not inextricably link and label me with something I very much wish to cure myself of.

And, no, it is not fantasy talk. The description, “someone who is temporarily suffering from insomnia,” can and should be true if I or anyone receives the right treatment. The description sends my subconscious the message that the insomnia is not here to stay, but is merely a passing annoyance that I will get rid of.

As much as I could, I didn’t even consider myself to have chronic insomnia because I did not want to take possession of it. Chronic insomnia is defined as long-term, stubborn and persistent sleeplessness. Admitting that I had such a problem could very well create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Did not saying that I had chronic insomnia put me in denial about my sleeping issues? I don’t think so. I more than freely admitted that I had trouble sleeping. I merely framed my difficulties in a way that were factual yet would not put unnecessary weight on my shoulders. This approach, in my opinion, gave me the best possible chance to overcome insomnia.

I also often avoided taking personal possession of sleeplessness. For example, I would avoid referring to it as “my insomnia.” I did this because I did not want to take possession of something that is bad for me. By calling it “my insomnia,” I may, in some way, think of sleeplessness as belonging to me and a part of me, and this may make me reluctant in some sense to let it go and recover from it. So, instead, I distanced myself as much as possible and used the phrase “the insomnia” instead.

Further, I did not use heavy and highly demoralizing words to categorize the chronic insomnia. For example, I did not call it a sleep disorder or psychophysiologic insomnia as some people call it. Both of these names sound severe and depressing to me and, consequently, would make me want to give up without a fight. So instead I simply regarded chronic insomnia as a phobia which, in my opinion, is the category under which chronic insomnia should properly fall. Phobia is a word that carries less negative baggage, at least in my mind, because so many people have phobias and often recover from them.

As soon as I started to label my sleep challenges in a better and less negative way, I felt more empowered and less demoralized.

Next: Triggers

 


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