Do you Suffer from Bed Hell?


I saw this quote one day and knew that the person had never suffered from Bed Hell. The sun, to them was hopeful. It was not a sign of a day starting that you didn’t want to start, a day that no matter how sunshine-y it was felt like darkness.

Raise your hand if you have ever suffered from “Bed Hell” . . . those first 5 or so minutes of waking up where you feel like life is just awful. You’re not happy to be alive. And that the day ahead is just something to get through.

This is different than hitting the snooze bar to stay in your warm, comfy bed. It goes beyond that to a downward spiral that seems all encompassing in the moment.

Eventually you pull yourself out of bed, feeling exhausted and like you would prefer to stay there . . . all day . . . and the feeling passes.

A friend of mine was describing this to me and how she feels like her life is worth nothing in those moments, like she’s made no difference in the world, that she’s lost her purpose, and that life has no meaning.

It passes once she gets out of bed. But those few minutes feel like hell.

Although Bed Hell can be particularly active during depression, you don’t have to be depressed to feel this way. After my friend told me about Bed Hell, and described exactly what I’ve felt before as well but never named, I started asking around. How many of my friends had, at one point or another, felt Bed Hell?

Friend #2? Yes

Friend #3? Yep from time to time

Friend #4? Mmhm

Friend #5? Yes, it started in her 40s. She doesn’t remember it before then. This friend described waking up and wishing to be the dog. The dog had a wonderful life. He was fed, slept most of the day, didn’t have to go to work, had no kids to take care of, was walked and petted and loved. The dog had it good. “I think about 80% of us fantasize about living the dog’s life,” she said. But it was strongest when she woke up and felt like the day ahead was just going to be a big waste of time.

Friend #6? Just felt really bad for me (and all our other friends). She had never had Bed Hell.

It was Friend #6 who came up with the solution. Affirmations, she suggested. Insert a big groan here.

Not affirmations!

I know, as a therapist, I’m supposed to love affirmations.

But, honestly, I don’t believe in them a lot. People do them and nothing happens. They paste them on the mirror, read them once, and then go about their day doing everything they normally do. Or they may do them for a while, a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, but then they’re forgotten. Or they do them and bad stuff happens anyway.

You will run across the occasional person who swears by affirmations. They did them and now they make a million dollars a year and live on a house on the ocean. Somehow, it’s always on the ocean. I can picture their personal adult size swing, swinging over the beautiful water, all due to their affirmations that they said 10 years ago. Uh-huh.

Despite what The Secret and other New Age stuff says, no one life that I have ever known changed due to affirmations. It changed due to a lot of reading, self-help exercises, talking with friends, and therapy (and therapy homework). It changed due to a personal practice they had (prayer, yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis) and did consistently.

It changed due to moving, a divorce, a crisis, or an ultimatum. It changed due to a marriage or re-marriage. It changed due to a new job or leaving a bad one. It changed due to rehab or recovery or a life changing personal growth workshop. But really, those are all both ending and starting points. They don’t reveal all the anguish around whether to leave the dissatisfying job, the risk it takes to do so, the search for the new job. They don’t reveal the months and thousands of dollars of legal fees for a divorce, the inability to handle the crisis or the feeling of paralysis that comes with an ultimatum.

The Search for the Therapist

It doesn’t reveal the search for a therapist, the asking the friends, the interview, the relief felt from finding someone who feels right, who feels trustworthy and supportive, who is going to help them. Who is going to be honest and gentle in how he or she handles your feelings but also encourages you to take responsibility for your part in it.

It doesn’t reveal the months spent in individual therapy sessions or marital counseling, trying to implement what the therapist suggested.  It doesn’t reveal the choices made every morning to love their partner that day or be kind to their children. And it doesn’t reveal the moment of stress when everything feels overwhelming, the baby is crying and grabbing at them to be held but their back is killing them, the toddler is running around without pants, their spouse is on the phone (loudly) and they take a big breath, pause for a moment, and speak with kindness or ask for a break. Please, just a moment to myself.  Please.

Yes, Affirmations.

My friend was insistent. Those of us who were presently suffering from Bed Hell committed to try it, just for a week. Not by pasting the affirmation on the mirror or saying it all day but just by simply choosing one phrase to try to stop the downward spiral of Bed Hell. One phrase that we needed.  We were to say it just when Bed Hell hit and just during Bed Hell. We could stop once we got up. Did it work?

Friend #2: Yes

Friend #3: Yes, stopped the Bed Hell

Friend #4: Mmmm, a little

Friend #5: Not that much but she had a really good session with her therapist that week.

How to get rid of Bed Hell . . . Will it Work for You?

I don’t know whether it will help your personal Bed Hell. The only way for you to know is to try it and see if it works. Considering how miserable Bed Hell feels, it’s worth trying something a little different .

Choose one phrase the night before that you will use in the morning when your brain starts to go into the downward spiral. Say it as many times as you need to. Try it tomorrow. Just one phrase and see if Bed Hell stops. Here are a couple to get you started:

  • I am worthy.
  • I am divine.
  • I am light.
  • I release anger and resentment.
  • I am valuable.
  • I am loved.
  • I am loving.

You Deserve the Best Dr. LizIf you want to do something more about Bed Hell, to get rid of it more permanently and to wake up feeling like life is worth living, that it does have meaning, Call me at 954-309-9071 to schedule a free consultation for psychotherapy if you’re  in the Broward County and the Fort Lauderdale / South Florida area.

Yours in health,
Dr. Liz