My colleagues began discussing the emergence of anxiety disorders during the pandemic. Nurses who were used to operating inside of life or death situations for ten minute periods, doing everything possible to revive or maintain a patient until the EMTs took over found themselves in the same type of situation but extended for months on end. It was exhausting to always be vigilant, always be running from one patient to the next, always be trying to salvage life. To never be able to laugh, breathe, rest, joke…it was taking its toll. Some people couldn’t sleep at all, haunted by the reality we were living in. They laid awake at night, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the alarm clock to liberate them from their swimming thoughts. Others could fall asleep but woke from their sleep in a panic, unable to breathe, paralyzed by fear. Some of my colleagues began taking anti depressants, anti anxiety meds, and sleeping pills. I watched in horror as an increasingly exhausted industry tried to cope. Bags under eyes became darker and puffier. Faces once jolly and round became long and tired. Eyes once bright with ambition became dull and empty. I was in the camp of those who could not sleep. I sat in the rocking chair gripped by anxiety for the future we faced, my mind swimming with options for how i could possibly save our reality as we knew it. It was hopeless but it didn’t stop my mind from straining to find the answer. No matter what music i listened to, what tv show i watched, or what exercise i did, sleep would not come. I felt the pervasive sense of dread my colleagues had talked about. I longed for the days when everything seemed fine and i was sure the world would be there as i had left it when i woke.

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  1. Had insomnia for years. It becomes an obsessive nightmare in the literally fear nightime. In the end I worked with it and allowed myself to have an odd life of working till 3am before hitting the sack. Even now with a lot of night time regimes and herbal supplements I still hardly go to bed till gone midnight. It works and reprogramming the mental fear of sleep. Overwork was also the problem. Nurses need support and sensible hours. Without a good sleep the dreams won’t come.

    1. Recently i’ve had some luck watching time lapses of mushrooms growing set to background music but its still very much a struggle. I can relate to what you speak of. When the sun starts setting the anxiety sets in as i realize the struggle to adhere to the bedtime i’m shooting for has begun.

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