Make it stop.
August 29, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

My friend was killed in a car accident a couple days ago. I'm not coping so well, it seems. How can I rid my brain of involuntary (and horrific) visual images of his death?

What I would like to know is what is causing me to do this in the first place. I've dealt with people close to me dying, and while it's always very unpleasant, this situation is a couple notches beyond unpleasant for me. It's scaring me that I can't make it stop.

The person who died is someone I've known for a few years - he was cool and special, and we had a solid connection. He was my lover/sexbuddy, and at the heart of it, we were very close friends. The last time we were together was several weeks ago, nothing too recent, but we maintain daily contact via chat/email. He's been a very good, positive presence in my life all the way around.

I found out yesterday that he'd died overnight in a single-car crash on the expressway. He was alone in the car. Ever since I heard this news, my brain has been trying to play the documentary footage of his accident for me. I can't sleep because of it - the images, as I said, are horrific. I am seeing, over and over, involuntarily, very disturbing graphic images of the impact and his injuries, and frankly, it's driving me fucking mad. How do I stop doing this? I do not want to see that. I can't even tell you how much I'm not curious about the details, at least as far as I'm aware.

Exercise? Yeah, I just got back from trying that, and it didn't work. Twice. I was unable to find my rhythm today, no surprises there. I tried concentrating on my breathing and the usual things I normally do to maintain focus, but every twenty strides or so my brain would handily remind me that my friend is dead! Gone. Blood everywhere... deep lacerations... him lying alone in the road, bleeding and dying, no one there with him. It's pretty unsettling, complete with screaming and gurgling sound effects (sorry), and it's causing me to feel panicky and unbalanced. I really hate it, and I need it to stop right away.

This is all very unlike me. I tend to be a little dark at times, but nothing like this. I don't like movies that feature this sort of violence/gore, nor do I watch tv shows that focus on it; it's just not my thing, and I find the whole gratuitous violence thing tedious and annoying. In other words, I'm not one of those people who fixates on blood/death/gore/the afterlife (I'm very comfortable in my atheism). I also don't go out of my way to avoid it. I just don't dwell there at all, really.

The deep sense of sadness I'm feeling is something I'll be able to deal with over time, but these little looped movies in my head are something I cannot deal with even a little, and it's freaking me out and pissing me off because I feel like I can't grieve the way I need to be able to in these first days after losing him - it's getting in the way.

Why is my brain doing this? Why? Why? If you know, please tell me. I just feel that if I can find out why it's happening and what's causing it, then I can figure out a way to stop it - to stem the onslaught of this painful and intrusive imagery.
posted by heyho to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what to say other than you must see a therapist asap. I don't know why this is happening to you, but I hope someone here or a therapist can make the pain stop.
posted by anniecat at 2:02 PM on August 29, 2010

I am extremely sorry to hear about your loss.

I had similar types of place my brain would go when a friend of mine had a tragic death. What helped me was talking to some one about the images and time---after a few weeks my brain didn't focus on them so much. Sorry I cannot offer a better explanation. It sucks---it sucks so hard---but the images eventually go away.
posted by chiefthe at 2:06 PM on August 29, 2010

It's a trauma response-slash-panic attack. It's not abnormal, but I'm so sorry you're dealing with it. Truthfully, seeing your GP and requesting a short term prescription for Xanax or another anxiety med may help - most people I know (including myself) who've gone that route end up taking the Xanax two or three times and then find that just knowing it's around helps stop the flood of images and panic response.

Yes, seeing a therapist will be helpful, but they're not always immediately available, and you should treat this as a critical situation. Tell the nurse at your GP's office that you need to be seen immediately, ask for the scrip and a recommendation for a therapist. I'm very sorry for your loss.
posted by annathea at 2:09 PM on August 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

Oh dear, I'm so sorry.

Look, this is a really jarring, traumatic situation. I would not be surprsied about ANYTHING your brain does as it tries to assimilate what's happened. You may even be in some kind of shock. Make sure you are with people who understand and don't push yourself too much. Trying to get rid of the imagery all at once may be asking too much. Please take care of yourself.
posted by BibiRose at 2:12 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Recurring intrusive thoughts and visualizations like this are really common for me. I started getting them a lot, more or less out of the blue (like you), when I was about 7, after a friend of mine died in a house fire. They've stayed with me in various forms and incarnations ever since.

I'm not trying to armchair-diagnose you or project my disorder onto you or anything, but the reactions seem pretty similar. For months when I was a kid I imagined vividly what my friend looked, felt, sounded and smelled like as she was dying. I reacted by developing a lot of compulsive behavior related to fire safety and fire. (I don't recommend this as a form of coping, obvs.)

I know "see a therapist" is a really standard AskMeFi response, and I always feel like it's a bit of a cop-out. Chances are you know seeing a therapist is a good idea - you want practical advice for NOW. But I do think that's one of the best things you can do. Also, if you have a GP, talk to them. You may want to consider taking some form of medication in the short term, while you work on more practical coping skills. Paxil helped reduce my obsessive thought patterns significantly, though I don't take it now. In the meantime, keep doing what you are doing - try to stay calm and not let your thought patterns lead you into a downward spiral of anxiety. When you start thinking about your friend, change activities. Try activities that require focus. (I used to take frequent Tetris breaks, since it's a somewhat restive activity that still requires me to be focused on something that's happening immediately.)
posted by ellehumour at 2:18 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Call your GP in the morning. Explain what's going on. Talk to your friends; get as much support as you can.

Repetitively dumb games like Bejeweled help me disengage from unproductive looping.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:25 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

first of all, it is sad to hear of your loss, especially under the circumstances you describe.

i feel similarly to you regarding violent imagery, etc., and my brain works in similar ways in generating visuals for something i've never seen. how do I cope? generally i draw on imagery i've personally experienced, and try to keep that present in my mind.

perhaps first make a written list of wonderful, joyous, and sexy things you shared together. don't worry about getting everything on that list right away because you'll add to it as time goes on.

then with list in hand, visualize your memories of those situations, feelings, and experiences. take several minutes to explore each item on your list. these visualizations of your own formed memories will also help you cope with loss. An exercise like this can help you retain your memories as well. this will likely be painful, too, because acknowledging loss is that way. but i think this will be far less painful than the generated false imagery in your head.

be well and take care.
posted by kuppajava at 2:26 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The 'why' - it sounds like an acute stress reaction (link is a little technical, but has the best rundown of symptoms). This has come out of the blue, been a shock, so all your 'fight or flight' hormones are in play, which is upping the ante on your emotional responses - leaving you with the horrible imagery. Annathea's description of it as 'trauma response-slash-panic attack' is a good one.

As the 'acute' implies, for most people this does go away by itself; but if it's to the point that the thoughts are intruding into your activities as you describe, you need some help now. Therapists, anti-anxiety exercises and the like are all a good idea, but they can take time - so I'm another for 'call your GP as soon as you can'. You might be offered a few days of medication to try and tamp down the stress/anxiety hormones that are running riot, which hopefully breaks the cycle of 'image-anxiety-image'.

And have something on hand in your bedroom in case you wake up in the night - everything is worse at 2am in the morning. It can be anything from knitting to a DVD, just something active to do/watch if you get those images at night.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:51 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I've experienced vaguely similar things (not, oddly, with the death of people close to me, but the death of a beloved cat who died alone at the vet's), and the only thing that worked for me is to stop the train before it gets going, and I did this by repeating a poem I've memorized, or doing math problems (and I suck at math, so this takes quite a bit of concentration), as soon as the first image or thought came into my brain.

It didn't take very long before the images stopped leaping on me with no warning. Now I can think of the incident without losing it (mostly), but if I start to feel too distressed, I immediately turn my mind to something else.

But talking to your GP about a few Xanax-type pills wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
posted by rtha at 2:53 PM on August 29, 2010

Yes, kuppajava has it. Actively replace the distressing hypothetical images in your head with positive images of good things that actually happened. Things your friend said to you, dumb jokes you shared, fun things you did together.

Choose about 3 memories. Choose specific, short times: 10 or 15 seconds' worth. When you choose them, go through and remember everything about that time: the sound of the friend's voice, where you were, what the weather was like that day. When you're thinking of these moments, tell yourself "I'm safe here."

Once you've got them, get them associated in your mind with your friend's name and face. Hear the friend's name in your head as you visit each of these memories. Tell yourself, "When I think of [Friend], I'll think of this." Tell your brain, "For [Friend], go here." Stick with it, and soon it will be automatic: your friend will be associated in your mind with the good memories. You can do this.

Seeing a therapist is a good idea. But until then, try this.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:54 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hello heyho. I have had a number of people close to me die, and have had the pattern you describe act itself out a number of times. It's like a digestion cycle. The initial information is pretty raw. Eventually it lessens, and your mind digests it. I find it's better not to resist it, but to try to surf on it like a surfer. Surfin' the blue wave. There's a lot of very deep psychological insight in the process if you can keep surfing---and I think you can from reading some of your other tremendous posts.

I wash myself with water, swimming, baths, to provide pleasureable stimulus to my skin--which feels raw. I make stuff---drawing, painting, sewing, baking. A simple activity that constructs and creates will focus your mind---while the raw information is screaming around in there. Good food, good music. Write down some feelings and memories. Oh, water time is a great time to cry it out as well.

People will say dumb stuff; don't get snagged on that or you will also have a lot of reactionary anger to process as well. Stay away from stuff like driving, spend some time away from work.

Hugs. Sorry sweetie. Hope this is helpful.
posted by effluvia at 2:59 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

heyho: "What I would like to know is what is causing me to do this in the first place. I've dealt with people close to me dying, and while it's always very unpleasant, this situation is a couple notches beyond unpleasant for me. It's scaring me that I can't make it stop.

Oh man, I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I went through the same thing when a friend died in an accident. In my case (not trying to generalize) I think I was trying to visualize what happened so that I could go back in time and try to save her. At least, that was all I could come up with because her situation was quite unpleasant too, and I've never been the type to gawk at that kind of stuff.

Time was really the only thing that made these unwanted images fade, although sometimes if I was really tired, I could sleep through the night without nightmares, so maybe step up whatever exercise program you might have?

Don't be scared, at least not consciously. Keep telling yourself that this too shall pass. Even though it hurts so bad now, it will get less hurtful eventually. Try to focus on the good parts - he probably didn't suffer - and let the other stuff come and then let it go.

If you have any mutual friends, maybe you can get together and toast your friend and try to replace that awful imagery with something positive, like a group of you sharing stories from happier times?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a similar issue after my son had a terrifying (but non-fatal) accident when he was 3. I was able to keep the "movie replay" at bay until it was time to fall asleep, and then it would just flood my mind. (And exercise didn't help, because my heart rate going up would trigger a panic attack.) I had a therapist at the time, and speaking with her helped -- I had a safe place to relive the trauma, and a place where I could unburden myself of my complicated feelings of grief and terror and self-blame, which I still had to process even though everything had turned out okay (a fact that, somehow, at the time, made it seem even worse). I took Xanax occasionally for about a week afterward to help me sleep and get past the movies.

But the tricky part was that not only had I witnessed the accident, my then 6-year-old daughter had, too. And part of her metabolizing the experience for herself was talking about it. With me. Which was unfortunately very difficult for me, and quite triggering. Yet it was important for her to tell herself the story -- when she talked about it, usually at bedtime, it was always at her own prompting, and I paid attention to how the story she told of the accident changed over time, and to the details she included or didn't include depending on the day, and tried to just let her get through it to whatever the end was that day. It was hard for me to listen, because of my own post-traumatic stress from the accident, but I tried to be present. Still, I kind of felt like it must be be hard for her, too, to retell it and relive it, even as it seemed to relieve the pressure of the experience for her. So I suggested that we contain it a bit. I told her, Let's think of it like a story book: when it's time to tell this story, we can take it off our imaginary bookshelf, open it up, and talk about the pictures; and when we're all done, we close the book and put it away, and we don't have to think about it again until the next time we open it.

This helped her a lot -- and it helped me, too, because it put a limit the seemingly endless replay of thoughts/images. Every time we talked about it, we would mime closing a book and putting it away on a far, high shelf. Then, after she fell asleep and I wrestled with my own scary yet unavoidable desire to talk myself through the events or have the movies start in my mind, I would tell myself the same thing I told her -- it's a story you don't have to tell all at once, you don't have to read it over and over, you don't even have to read a whole chapter; now, close the book and put it away.

Eventually, with time and with being able to speak with a therapist and with doing a little therapy of my own at home with my daughter, the intrusive memories/thoughts subsided. I had a pretty trigger-happy startle reflex for about a year, but the endless replay movies stopped after a month or so. My daughter, who is now 11, hasn't talked about the incident in years -- it just doesn't even register anymore as a big deal, or event a once-scary event.

Anyway, I hope you are able to speak with someone, and if you are not able to soon, please try to do so if you find the intrusive thoughts are not lessening after a week or so. I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope some of what I've written here is helpful.
posted by mothershock at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

What they said. I'm not a professional, but based on my recent experience (friend who shot himself two months ago) and on my past experience (friend hit by car 17 years ago) what you're going through right now is a) totally completely normal, b) best dealt with now rather than not visualised until later and c) utterly agonising and you have total sympathy and understanding from anyone who's gone through this.

Again - it's true, it's happened and it's absolutely a normal part of traumatic grief. It can be very difficult to bear though. Talk to your GP tomorrow: a little bit of care now can make a lot of difference. You *will* get through it, the imagery *will* die down, you'll master it and you'll have a sense of reality afterwards on which you can build a functional relation with your friend's death. But look after yourself in the meantime - GP, maybe a few sleeping pills if you need, day or two off work and explain what's happening to a friend if you can: no need to suffer this alone.
posted by cromagnon at 3:44 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Call your GP tomorrow morning ASAP and get a prescription for something like Ativan, a benzo-type drug often prescribed for those undergoing sudden grief. This can help you cope until you get to see a therapist.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:52 PM on August 29, 2010

It's hard I think for anyone who has not lost a loved on in a sudden violent way (which includes me) to imagine or understand what you're going through. There's great advice in this thread. I would focus less on pharmaceutical solutions and more on what might me called memory manipulation: think about, and talk about, the good memories — this can have a positive effect on nighttime thinking and dreams. What you want is for those to overwhelm the negatives, and just as physical therapy can overcome muscle strains, mental therapies plus time can overcome your mental trauma.
posted by beagle at 3:58 PM on August 29, 2010

Lost a few good friends myself (I'm armed forces), and I just try to focus on the good times. The times they made me laugh till I cried etc. Let that kind of imagery fill your head and not the bad stuff. It's how we should remember everyone who passes.
posted by Biru at 4:01 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am a mental health professional (but IANYMHP, obviously). I strongly, strongly recommend that you ignore the suggestions that you might have a diagnosable disorder like OCD or might need medication right now. What you're describing is the way that a lot of people react to a significant trauma, and it may or may not require therapeutic intervention, depending on how long it stays at this level and how much it interferes with your level of functioning day-to-day. Right now, try to find something that helps your body physically relax, like breathing, yoga, bubblebaths, walks, whatever you need. When your body feels relaxation, your brain follows naturally. This is not to say that these thoughts will just magically go away, but it's worth it to pay attention to taking care of yourself right now. Take good care of yourself, and don't be ashamed to let people know that you need support.
posted by so_gracefully at 4:08 PM on August 29, 2010 [20 favorites]

I go along with "so_gracefully". Also, it is generally not a good idea to try and replace unpleasant or painful intrusive images with positive images. This only reinforces the unacceptability of the unpleasant imagine(s) and increases the probability the they will persist in duration and intensity for a longer period. Those images are perfectly normal and I can almost promise you they will pass in a very reasonable time--if you do not run from them. It can be quite important to make peace with that which wish to avoid. I am sorry for your loss and your friends death--memories you cherish will come to visit and stay
posted by rmhsinc at 5:00 PM on August 29, 2010

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. While it's not comparable, I had a similar experience when my beloved greyhound was hit by a car and killed. I didn't see the event, and never saw her afterward, but my mind wanted to constantly replay the event and try to fill in all of the horrific details. The only distraction the worked for me was a mental exercise I created when nothing else worked. Starting with the most recent Christmas, I tried to remember a gift I had received for each year for as far back as I could go. Sounds crazy, I know, but it was a meaningless, non-stressful something to think about that required lots of concentration. For each year I'd have to remember where I was living, who was important in my life, where I was working...any number of details that would trigger the memory of a gift. Stupid, meaningless, and totally engrossing and distracting. Maybe you can adapt my trick to work for you. Again, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, and I hope you can find some peace.
posted by pupperduck at 5:42 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd like to second so_gracefully - you're dealing with something very traumatic, and I think playing the situation over and over is a fairly common way of dealing with it, and not necessarily an indication of any underlying process. I've done the same thing when dealing with unexpected, horrible deaths. Talking to other people who knew my friend, remembering the good times, and processing the horror of their death helped me more than anything. Grief is a part of living, and not an independent indication of a mental disorder*.

It's been 24 hours people, not 24 months
posted by fermezporte at 6:10 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

What so-gracefully said. You are having a commom reaction to traumatic stress. It can happen with anyone but because of the way our minds work, we often have stronger reactions to these kinds of incidents when it is a sudden, unexpected death, the person is young (you equate them dying with the possibility of YOU dying if you are close in age), and you also question the randomness of life. Meds are usually for long term disfunction. You may want to let this play out by itself for a while. Eventually your brain will learn to process the information better and the intensity (and reactions) will diminish over time. Sometimes it helps to talk about what happened.
posted by MsKim at 6:35 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just to join the dogpile:

What you're going through is completely normal.

These feelings will abate. Therapy will help. Distractions with friends will help. Seek support from whomever you can right now. It's awful at the moment, but it will improve. It will. Trust us.
posted by incessant at 6:39 PM on August 29, 2010

Everyone who is suggesting therapy is spot on. Crisis counselors respond to something like this by letting those in crisis tell the story as many times as they need to. It helps get it out of your head. There's something about hearing yourself tell the story while you are visualizing it that helps with the processing. I know you want the thoughts to stop, but part of this is your brain trying to make all of this real to you. Unfortunately it's choosing a really tough way of processing, and I'm so sorry about that. I also know that there may be a wait to get in to see a therapist, and I don't want you to wait.

Whether or not you are a religious person, I'd advise you to either connect with a chaplain at a local hospital (who are used to counseling all types of religions/non religious people) or a pastor at a church in your area. Clergy are very accustomed to counseling families through crisis and death, so they will be able to help you in the short term (especially while waiting on a therapist appointment). You can even start the conversation by telling them what your beliefs are about heaven/God/etc and let them know that you just need to process the event. Hospital chaplains are good about just listening to grieving family members without bringing religion into it.

You should also do whatever relaxes you what you can to release some of the physical tension.

I am so very sorry you are dealing with this.
posted by MultiFaceted at 7:03 PM on August 29, 2010

Gather all of the things you have related to your friend: photos of the two of you, maybe some clothes he left behind, letters, etc., and every time you start to think about the horrible things you're very understandably thinking about, look at the great mementos you have of your time with your friend and think about how wonderful your time together was.

You're experiencing really strong grief right now. I haven't gone through it before, but I suspect that what you're feeling, while scary as hell, is really quite natural. Eventually things will smooth out and you'll be left with far more good memories than bad.

Take care of yourself, and I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by elder18 at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2010

I have had a couple of friends die in unexpected and terrible ways. I completely agree with effluvia and a couple of others who seconded her. It seems like you cannot deal with this - like if you tell yourself "I can't do this" over and over enough times, you won't have to. But you do have to get through it, and you can. Doping yourself out of it just puts it off -- I've tried. If you don't get through it in the next few months, your mind will keep throwing these images up at you at inconvenient times for...well, until it's dealt with. Until you can hold those terrible pictures and thoughts of your friend's pain and death in your head and heart and not be overcome by them; until you can think of them with pity and sorrow instead of with absolute horror.

Those movies in your head you're describing will stay with you -- not always on the surface, certainly, but there for when some random thing, or nothing at all, reminds you. You have to be able to watch them and not lose yourself in pain. The best time to learn to do that is in the next few months. It hurts like goddamn fuck. You just get through it, one minute after another. Tetris and bejeweled are both good ideas; so it taking care of yourself physically. Writing, maybe -- helped me -- in writing you can get down the absolute worst parts that you can't share with other people. Take a leave of absence from work if you need it and can. It will eventually stop. It takes time.
posted by frobozz at 7:42 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing what others have said. The only cure is time. I had a similar situation several years ago when a good friend committed suicide in a particularly gruesome way. I obsessed for days, it subsided a bit, and then the funeral a couple of weeks later brought it all back. I described it as a bit like watching CNN: sometimes the thoughts are the lead story, and that is all you can focus on, and sometimes it's just the crawl at the bottom of the screen--not actively being discussed, but there nonetheless. It took a few months for my mental ticker of the news to stop running the story. Talking with other friends who also knew him, I discovered that many had experienced the same thing. It's normal. It completely, utterly sucks, but it's normal.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Fuego at 8:18 PM on August 29, 2010

Very sorry for your loss. That is a terrible situation, and having been in it myself, I know how rough it is.

I had my long-time best friend die in front of me (not a car accident, but something equally physical and physically devastating) in 2001, and to be honest, I still see it every single time I close my eyes. For me, it has never come close to going away.

I tried a lot of therapy, with a lot of therapeutic approaches over the years, and none of it worked exactly. Ultimately, though, the feelings that those images brought about changed. Over time, I stopped being as horrified and grief-crippled by the memory of it, and it turned into something less painful. You are correct when you say that the overall feeling of grief is something you can handle... the thing to remember is that the images associated with that grief will eventually become part of the grief itself. With time, it all just turns into a big ole' ball of a weird and sad stuff in your mind.

Personally, I have come to the point where I almost depend on the images I see that are related to the death of various friends (I have had an inordinate amount of friends die as a result of some shaky lifestyle choices). Now, I rely on those images as a part of my memories of those people. It may sound a bit morbid, but it is just what happens with time (at least for me).

All the best, and again, I am sorry for your loss. I hope that you are ultimately able to get through things...
posted by broadway bill at 8:44 PM on August 29, 2010

I have not experienced the violent death of a friend, but I did go through a horrible experience that I obsessed over and couldn't stop thinking about. Distraction was the key for me. fairytale of los angeles mentioned my solution. It sounds stupid, but casual computer games got me through. Something short, that requires focus but not thought. I would play something like Bejeweled or Zuma for an hour and I could give myself a break from thinking about the situation and relax. Nothing else worked for me. Work (where I couldn't find absorbing distractions) was really tough - I couldn't concentrate enough to accomplish much. I spent a lot more time doing fairly brainless tasks like organizing my desk and clearing out old e-mails. Sleep didn't happen much.

Looking back, short-term anti-anxiety meds (and sleeping pills) might have been helpful to me to deal with the physical effects of the stress, but I don't think they would have stopped my brain from hurting me with the obsession. It took me months to get past it, but eventually I did. Now (four years later) I can think about it without the detailed playback, stressful reaction, and pain.
posted by Dojie at 4:40 AM on August 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for the thoughtful advice and kind words. It's all helpful. Just reading this thread repeatedly seems to be super helpful, so there you have it. And thanks also to those who sent me email/mefimail. I wish I could express how much that has helped already. This community never seems to fail in its ability to show genuine concern for a MeFite down.

For the record, I don't hear any real diagnostic stuff happening; I hear, "this applies to me, so perhaps add that to the things you're thinking about," and, "here, I found this online, take a look and see if it helps." That's all. Same with the Xanax recommendations -- I'm hearing, "this helps sometimes; consider it." Sometimes it is nice to blot stuff out for a few hours to get some sleep, so I get it. Different strokes, you know? Please don't be upset about those suggesting stuff like that, and honestly, there's no need to fear that I'll start popping pills like tic-tacs; I just won't. I came here for advice from individuals whose perspective might differ from my own, and I feel capable of weeding through the responses and choosing what's right for me. I also very much appreciate the counterpoints to that advice, as I think they're equally valuable and relevant to my situation.

The video game suggestions worked surprisingly well at diverting my attention last night when I couldn't sleep. I played for a long time, then I fell asleep for four solid hours. No dreams; just sleep. It was good. Maybe Super Mario World is my Xanax. Who knows? I just know that it worked to shut out all the noise for a while, something I desperately needed.

effluvia, I can't thank you enough for your comment. It really resonated with me. I'm a water/stimulus person myself, and... yeah. Completely right on.

Along a similar line, a dear, generous friend recently gave me a gift certificate to a spa downtown, and I am extremely glad I held onto it and didn't use it right away. I just set the appointment for Wednesday morning. It's immensely helpful to have something nice to look forward to.
posted by heyho at 7:20 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

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