MH@H Mental Health

Bedtime Stories from the Mental Illness Wolf

Bedtime stories from the big bad wolf – Image of Little Red Riding Hood with a wolf mask

Most nights, just before bedtime, I get hit with a rush of worry about the future.  How will I take care of myself?  How will I support myself financially?  What if I can never resurrect the tatters of my career?  Then I climb into bed, the meds take over, and off to sleep I go.

While this nightly wave of worry might be exaggerated, it’s a reflection of some very real concerns that I have.  I deliberately choose not to think about the future if I can avoid it, and focus on the present and whatever I’m able to do now.  Except trying not to look at the big bad wolf of the future doesn’t make it go away, and it pops up in the evening to remind me that it’s still there.

I’ve gotten used to it sufficiently that I can shift my mind back away and not give it too much pre-bed airtime.  It would be nice if it would stop, but I don’t think it will.  I have no certainty or safety net.  I have no resilience to handle setbacks.  All I can do is just exist each day.  Perhaps that would be a good thing if it was about mindfulness and that kind of thing, and maybe there is an element of that, but when it comes down to it, it’s really just one more form of avoidance.

A few years ago I never would’ve imagined that I’d be having this kind of fear stop by to pay me a visit each night.  I felt stable and certain looking towards the future.  I didn’t consider that my illness might shift from episodic to constant.  So many things I could never have guessed.

And yet here I am, with the big bad wolf hiding in the closet, peeking out at me with his menacing stare.  He is a companion on this journey through invisible illness.  Perhaps someday he’ll devour me, ripping me to shreds to match my little red riding hood.

Sleep Better: The Little Book of Sleep from Mental Health @ Home

Sleep Better: The Little Book of Sleep is a mini-ebook that covers a range of strategies, both medical and non-medical, to help you get the best sleep you can.  It’s available from the MH@H Download Centre.

30 thoughts on “Bedtime Stories from the Mental Illness Wolf”

  1. I know the feelings of anxiety for the future. I don’t know how I have managed to shove them away as I do, compared to before. But somehow I do. I just get the ocassionally ones. But I could imagine it creeping on me more, with another worry that likes to creep, but I have to shove that on one side too. It sometimes feels a battle. But I want to enjoy now, rather than worry on something that could not happen.
    I wish I could advise. But I can’t. X

  2. These anxieties are a part of everyone’s thinking, some more than others. I try to focus on what I have rather than what I don’t. Positivity helps but it’s an acquired way of thinking. One has to work on it. I like your concept of comparing worries to the big bad wolf! Hope he never comes in your dreams.

  3. I love the analogies but the thought of being ripped to shreds, not so much. Your anxieties are valid as I fear the same. This is obvious in my writings as I am always tripp’n on the future. I do not have a retirement plan, I do not own a home and my income is based off a physically demanding job. The way I see it, I have nothing to offer my daughter if she were to ever fall mentally ill like my Ma has always had for me. If my Ma are to fall ill I would have to take things one day at a time because I will be her caregiver and with her age and stomach problems, this is soon to likely happen. I dred having to rely on government assistance but that would be the only way I could provide for her medically as well as financially. It is a daunting future for myself and I do my best not to think about it because if I do, I am able to have a severe relapse and would be of no assistance to anyone. It is a harsh reality. 🙁

  4. I completely understand the anxiety about the future. I will be of retirement age in 15 years, so maybe it’s too early to have this anxiety, except it’s still there. And anyway, I’m going to have to act on these things (retirement income, housing, etc.) in the future, so why not worry about it now? Self-defeating, I know.

  5. I’ve found that facing worries head on is the only way to stop them festering. I completely understand your concerns. I hate to sound trite, but in truth I simply HAVE to write my problems down and then scribble every single idea that might help to resolve it in little circles, so that it ends up looking like a series of spiders. Having an idea, which can in turn be worked into a plan is the way forward. For instance when I was completely broke I wrote down a mass of ideas of how to get myself out of that particular hole … it worked but it took being very proactive which at the time I found incredibly hard because I was mentally in a big black hole as well. Thinking of you and keep us posted, we’re all with you. Katie xx

  6. Gosh, it is so hard to balance living in the moment and not avoiding things. That’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, too. My coping mechanism has been, unhealthily, to avoid things, and when I get stressed I fall back to that and it’s been punching me in the face lately.

  7. I get worried about the future too. I don’t know what will happen to me when my parents are gone, given that I don’t seem to be able to hold down a regular job, but am apparently not sick enough to claim benefits.

  8. I have that feeling of anxiety before bed too and when I’m lying down in bed. I always ask myself how will be my future, and if I will achieve my dreams and get a career I like. I’m here for you. Sending you lots of love ❤️

  9. That sounds terrifying!! I’m not fully awake yet, or I’d come up with some wise statement, or something. Bad wolf! Bad wolf! And he is bad.

Leave a Reply