This one’s gonna get personal…
I used to identify as someone who wasn’t a “morning person” because of how difficult it was for me to get out of bed in the morning. I had a ridiculously difficult time getting out of bed. And even once I finally dragged myself out of the bed, I still didn’t feel like myself.
From the moment I cracked my eyes open, I felt this emptiness in me and a sad feeling took over. Before I’d eventually get up, I’d lay there for hours, staring at the ceiling, thoughts racing, feeling as if I’m sinking into my mattress, and I’d have no motivation to start my day. My irritability at an all time high, even saying good morning was exhausting to do. I’d occasionally just tell myself that I must be depressed or having a mood swing. Sometimes I’d blame it on PMS. In today’s world, it’s a lot easier to blame some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain for your failures and just give up, so that’s what I’d do. Instead of trying to improve the issue, I’d tell myself the lie that the enemy had been feeding to me my whole life, that something was just wrong with me. I googled these symptoms as well and, as per usual when seeking a Dr. Google diagnosis, Google assured me that I was a psychopath.
It wasn’t until I heard a small group pastor mention that she has to get out of bed quickly because she also feels very defeated when she wakes up, that I realized there’s nothing “wrong” with me and I can fight this. She said that her morning thoughts were very negative and they only got worse if she continued to lie in bed. Before then, I’d never really noticed that the thoughts do get much worse as time goes by. I thought back to my time in a student organization on my campus that I was committed to. We’d workout at 6 or 7 in the morning, so I’d have to wake up around 5:45AM. When my alarm went off and I opened my eyes, I’d feel absolutely terrible. Sometimes I’d even cry as soon as I woke to the sound of my alarm, but I’d still drag myself out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face, brush my hair, and get dressed. By the time I was filling my water bottle and walking out of the door, the cloud of negativity had just about left, despite that I was still not looking forward to working out. I also considered days that I’d wake with positive feelings about the days activities. Perhaps it’d be a day that I’m leaving to go to Japan, the last day of the semester, a day that I’m going to have some fun with a friend. On those days, I’d also wake up feeling a bit down (possibly not as much as usual), but after my morning routine I’d be feeling just fine. I would even ask myself why I was so grouchy when I woke up. Finally, it made some sense to me. For whatever reason, I feel very unhappy when I wake up. Certain triggers may make it worse, but I generally feel very awful and irritable when I wake up in the morning. So, knowing that there had been times that I’d been able to overcome these emotions, I began to formulate my strategy to overcome it.
I began by thinking about how the lady leading my church group said that as soon as she woke up she began to praise God and thank Him, then she’d get out of bed. All of this within 1 minute or less. So I knew I’d start with that, then get out of bed quickly and begin my morning grooming. I decided to start taking morning showers (I used to only take them in the evening) and while I’m in the shower, I say positive things about the day ahead of me outloud and I praise God. While grooming, I listen to a positive podcast or YouTube video, or I listen to something that teaches me Japanese. I also considered if I could brace myself before I even go to sleep at night for my waking thoughts, so at night I would do a complete brain dump of my thoughts on a sheet of paper and I’d plan for the next day. After I was done with all of that, I’d read a book until I felt sleepy and when I’d lay down to sleep, I’d count backwards from 100 over and over til I felt myself dozing off.
Doing these things really seemed to work and the more I adjusted my night time and morning routine, the better I’d feel when I woke up. Having a morning routine, a certain room temperature, and even considering what kind of clothing I sleep in has all helped me to fight off the enemies attack on my mind when I’m at my weakest state. Although I’d wake with the dark cloud feeling present, it felt distant. Not right over my head, but coming for me. And I still struggle with this sometimes. Whenever I don’t get enough sleep, my nutrition is off, or I have a panic attack in my sleep, I might have this issue when I wake up. But at least now I only deal with this every once and a while, instead of every single day.
I wanted to write this for anyone who goes through a similar struggle and they think they’re just stuck with a mental illness. Even if brain chemicals are to blame, don’t let it own you and control your life! Fight back! In summary, if you’re dealing with having a really hard time getting out of bed and feeling sad when you wake up, here are my tips:
1. Determine a morning and night routine
Don’t go to sleep watching TV or YouTube videos, or using electronics at all. Instead, go to sleep listening to something relaxing or reading. As a part of your night routine, plan for the next day and prepare all of your clothes, bags, lunch bag, etc… During your morning routine, pick out some positive activities to do
2. Adjust the room temperature
You may want to invest in outlet timers that will turn the switch on or off for you after a certain amount of time. If you can’t help this, then sleep in proper clothing and have clothing pre-prepared and beside the bed.
3. Consider what your diet has been like
The foods you’re eating and the way they make you feel definitely impact your mood. Over eating, only eating junk, stress eating, etc… could be triggering your feelings of depression when you wake. Also, don’t eat right before bed because your body digesting the food while you sleep may disrupt you from getting a good nights rest.
4. Get out of bed as soon as you wake up
If you have a partner who is a morning person, then ask them help you by encouraging you to get up. Place your alarm somewhere away from your bedside. There are also phone apps that will force you to do an activity to turn the alarm off. I use one called alarmy for the iOS. Try sleeping with the curtains open or cracked enough to let the morning sunlight in. This will naturally make your body want to wake up instead of sleeping in.
Good luck! And keep on keeping on!