Sorry for the violent title, but being a girl with an imagination means that every night, there is some strange horror story threatening to test my natural animal instincts to keep myself alive. And I have to think about this disaster in an empty house all night, usually only falling asleep minutes before the alarm goes off.
I am in fact a professional paranoid freak. Professional. Every night I run through different scenarios in my mind: what if the house catches fire? How will I get myself, the monkey cats and my baby pictures out safely while wearing my favorite jeans and all jewelry of value? What if someone breaks in? What’s going to be my weapon? Or should I just jump out the second story window and pray I have it in me to run far, far away after the sting of the pavement slapping my feet? Is my pepper spray around here? What happened to all my old softball bats? Oh I better just run for it. What if it’s a ghost, though? Can you run from a ghost? Won’t they find me anyway?… *BEEP*BEEP*BEEP. Shit, class time.
Living that way for about a year takes its toll on a girl. I started feeling really old, really tired and really sick. So, here are a few things I figured out that help me battle the mental demons:
1. Pay Attention to what you do before you go to bed. Watch your hands lock the front door, say what you’re doing out loud if it helps. This prevents you from bolting into an upright position just as you were about to fall asleep, in fear that the door has been unlocked the whole time (we forget things when we’re tired).
Also, make sure your keys aren’t in the front door when you lock it. I’ve done this far too many times.
2. Light a candle instead of just turning out the lights. This gives you enough light to see your surroundings, without keeping you awake. Just don’t forget to blow the candle out before you fall asleep. No house fires, please!
You could also put on a movie you know the ending to (I recommend 27 Dresses), as long as the light from the television doesn’t keep you up. Watching a movie you know well keeps you from feeling obligated to stay and watch the ending.
3. Meditate. And don’t listen to the weird clanking noise the heat is making (which, at night, is clearly a burglar/rapist/angry clown)! Focus on your breathing instead. I like to just listen to the natural rhythm of my own breath, but if you find controlled breathing more relaxing then go for it!
4. Be creative. Have a weapon close at hand but not a real one (no knives or guns, this can lead to devastating accidents). Try a piece of sports equipment or anything small and heavy (piggy bank? Imagine a mushroom cloud of pennies… now that is a distraction!). I like to think of my messy bedroom as a very creative booby trap. No one can navigate that place quietly and successfully in the dark except me!
5. Have a plan. Sometimes the best way to get rid of the demons is to know that you could actually take on something that’s not imaginary. Know your escape route in any situation. You could even go as far as J.Lo and mentally map out your surroundings, while blindfolded, counting the number of steps it takes you to cross the room or get to a specific location.