“Dear Mind, please stop thinking so much at night, I need to sleep” – Unknown
With a broken fist, Alex (name changed) had difficulty sleeping. No, it wasn’t the physical pain, it was the emotional pain he was experiencing. Like a child he broke down holding my hand; I knew that skills, theories, therapeutic process nothing would help him right then; all I could do was be there for him as he cried. Alex lost his friend Arjun (name changed) in a drag race, ‘I should have never let him race with us that night, it was because of me that he’s no more’, ‘I wish I died instead of him in that accident’, these phrases were repeatedly used by Alex, as guilt and self-blame became a constant in him. Alex developed phobia of closing eyes, he said that every time he closed his eyes the mangled remains of the car and the marred and bloody face of Arjun would appear.
For Alex, insomnia was the by-product of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I knew Alex needed help with PTSD so I directed him to another counsellor because it was unethical for me to have played the role of a counsellor. It took a while for Alex to go through the process because the scar was too deep. The event of Arjun bleeding to death at the arms of Alex was traumatic enough for him to carry the guilt and hurt all through his life, if not for the expert help of a professional counsellor Alex’s insomnia would have resulted in suicide. Three months had gone by after the whole incident so I decided pay him a visit, I noticed that everything about him was changed.
The makeover was interesting; he was confident, mellowed down, soft spoken, found a day job, and of course he quit racing, sold his car and got himself a bike, spends quality time with his family, and most importantly sleeps peacefully; in the process he managed to quit drinking and is working on his smoking habit. Alex is still a work under progress, but far from what and where he was three months ago, it was very evident that he was serious about the change and completely co-operated with the counsellor. In our conversation he said two profound statement ‘It is good to slow down in life and take baby steps all over again’ and ‘Now that my conscience is clear, I can sleep well’, these statements defined him and his destiny. Words will surely fail in my attempt to describe how happy I was that day.
Having gone through all that he did, Alex managed to find the softest pillow: a clear conscience. Where are you in finding your softest pillow? Are you even trying? If not, start now; if you’ve tried and failed it’s okay get out of your comfort zone, change your ground and your strategy; if you still failed, seek help, you don’t have to be ashamed about it.