For my entire adult life, I have struggled with insomnia. Its not really that big of a deal, and mostly, I deal with it without too much fuss or trouble.
A few years ago though, I had a particularly rough time with insomnia, and finally made an appointment with my doctor to see if we could get it sorted out.
He seemed pretty concerned about me. After all, Johnny Rotten had just come back from deployment, we were having some behavioral issues with the kids, and so on. It was nothing huge, but a ton of little things can mess with your life as easily as one big thing can.
He asked me if I had had problems the previous night, and I admitted that I had. He asked if I would like to tell him what was on my mind. This was all Very Serious Business, folks. Very serious indeed. I didn’t really know what to tell him. The issues that kept me up at night were not actually issues, and I told him so.
Have you ever been to a doctor for some kind of issue, and you know you’re not depressed or anxious but you know you’re showing signs of stress and anxiety for absolutely no reason at all, then you have to figure out how to to explain it in a way that makes sense and/or does not make you look like a complete moron? Thats what was happening at this exact moment. I took a deep breath and paused, not because I was ready to tell my deepest darkest secrets, but because I was trying to figure out how to not look like a moron.
I told him that the previous night, I spent quite a bit of time wondering about why things were the way they were. I was vague.
“Can you tell me one of the thoughts that kept you up last night?”, he pressed a little further, gently, with a box of tissues at the ready in case I broke down.
Fine. I came out with it. I told him that I spent that time wondering why toothpaste and oral care products are usually only available in mint flavor. I mean, yeah, you sometimes find them in cinnamon flavor, but they are overwhelmingly mint. If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we figure out that not everyone likes mint? I bet a lot of people would be interested in raspberry or lemon or almond flavor. For goodness sakes, they make bubblegum flavor for kids and beef gravy flavor for dogs– why are we adults stuck with mint? This all seems very unfair. It’s like four out of five dentists want mint-haters to get gingivitis.
He looked at me and blinked. And blinked again. I don’t think that’s what he was expecting to hear, but it was the truth. I absolutely did spend way too much time thinking about that. Note: given the subject, any time spent thinking about that is way too much time.
The doctor sort of shrugged and looked defeated. He suggested taking an over the counter sleep aid once in awhile for my rough nights. He also suggested that I see a therapist.
Looking back, that was kind of dumb. I didn’t need therapy. I just needed to talk to a dentist. That would’ve put this matter, and me, to rest.