When I was around six years old, I had a lot of problems falling asleep. I would try and try to fall asleep, but for some reason I would just lay there with my eyes closed and never fall asleep. On the worst nights it would take me somewhere between a half an hour to an hour to fall asleep. After years of having this problem, I decided to take the problem and try to fix it. What I created was something that helped me for years and years to come.
I have always been an imaginative person, pretty much since the day I was born. When I was young I used to have a few imaginary friends. We would play together, and it was nice because I didn’t need any real people to hang out with. I didn’t come up with the imaginary friends to avoid actual people, or to escape from reality; I simply did it because it was fun to play with people who had any personality that you wanted them to have. This lasted for a few years until one day I decided I didn’t want to have imaginary friends anymore. It was also around this time that I began having trouble sleeping at night. Roughly three out of five nights a week, I would either sleep in the bed with my parents, or sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor of their room. For some reason, It comforted me to be in my parents room when I slept.
This behavior went on until I was about 8 years old, when I finally figured out a way to fall asleep. It started one night as I was lying in my bed, when I just started imagining things. I imagined that there was a secret passage under my bed and it led to a huge underground tunnel under my house. I entered the little secret passage and there was a bright light that made my eyes hurt. Past this light was a world of paradise and everything cool. Fast cars, any kind of candy you can imagine, and any scenario that I could think up was possible in my little dream world. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was actually my own mind helping me fall asleep. I have always had high levels of stress and anxiety, which sometimes make me have trouble concentrating. As I got older, that began to develop even more and soon I needed to take medicine for my anxiety. This helped a little bit, but it didn’t help with my sleep problem. I mentioned the sleep problem to my doctor, and he said that it was a common side effect of my medicine. But I had been experiencing this for practically my whole life. So I kept on imagining before I went to sleep. I did this for around five more years until I finally didn’t need to do it anymore and I could fall asleep on my own.
When I was young, I was very caught up in my emotions and my anxiety, and sometimes I had no medium with which to escape for a while, until I discovered my own imagination. Sometimes you have to literally take matters into your own hands, and help yourself.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.