Do you feel like bed bugs are driving you crazy?
Having bed bugs can cause one person daily anxiety and stress and another person deals with the problem as if it is no big deal.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. This bed bug problem is your problem to solve ultimately even if a landlord is paying for treatment. Even if you hire a professional, or have heat treatment, your role in succeeding cannot be said enough.
Be nice to yourself. You probably won’t be perfect and probably will make a few mistakes in your approach to bed bug eradication. Now might be a good time to indulge in comfort food, a movie or Facebook. Keeping a journal documenting your experience and when and where you get bites can be helpful too.
photo credit: Bill Mayer
It’s hard but the stakes are high. You don’t want to re-infest your house after treatment. You need to try not to infest your car or where you work, or where you have coffee, or the library, or the bus. You need not to accidentally poison yourself, your children, or your pets. And you have to do all of this while sleepless, exhausted and possibly economically challenged.
Being informed is really important so you can evaluate what people are telling you, so you can make the best decisions while being sleep deprived and stressed out. I digress, but sometimes we just need to hear the ugly truth. Bed bugs are horrible, and getting rid of them is hard especially when you are sleep deprived. If you are having emotional stress I strongly recommend counseling. Unless you’re having heat treatment it’s going to be weeks or months to solve your infestation.
Sleeping when you have bed bugs
Sleeping on the sofa or in another bed almost always results in infesting the new sleeping area. Bed bugs will migrate to you when you are sleeping. This can result in expanding the geography of the infestation in your home. And sleep is why I am like a broken record when I talk about isolating your bed, putting the traps under the bed legs, and following all the protocols I’ve outlined in Isolating Your Bed.
Now that you know what not sleeping because you are on guard is like, try sleeping knowing they can’t reach you, that you can trap and kill them. That’s when you become the predator and not the prey.
Bed Bugs Cause Insomnia
Insomnia is common and completely justified in this situation, however, it ruins your life, so try and find solutions. You really need as much energy as you can muster to solve a bed bug problem. That is the unfortunate reality, and when you are exhausted from stress and lack of sleep, it’s that much more difficult to cope with a problem like bed bugs.
Always consult with your physician before trying sleep remedies. I found some very effective and gentle herbal remedies, that were helpful during my infestation. Herbal sleep aids vary in their effectiveness, typically consisting of a mixture of hops, valerian, and other herbs. You could also ask your physician for a prescription sleep aid, or medication to reduce anxiety. If you are still being bit in bed, sleep would probably be really helpful, especially if you’re trying to prepare for treatment.
Remember the quote attributed to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche? That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. Keep telling yourself that!
Bed bugs are horrible, and getting rid of them is hard especially when you’re sleep-deprived. If you are having emotional stress I strongly recommend counseling. Unless you’re having heat treatment it’s going to be weeks or months to solve your infestation.
Find a device to fall asleep. Mine was the Nature Channel. Sorry Nature Channel, but it’s true.
Fragrance Does Not Deter Bed Bugs
Neem oil, eucalyptus, cinnamon, herbs, fruit, honey, lavendar, alcohol, patchouli, bug repellent; none of these things will keep bed bugs from biting you. When bed bugs are hungry, they don’t care what you smell like as long as you have warm human blood. Bed bugs are primitive, but highly evolved. They are built to sniff out humans and they can smell and sense you regardless of any other fragrance you have on.
Don’t saturate yourself in rubbing alcohol. It’s ineffective and the fumes are dangerous in that volume. It will evaporate, they will bite you.
Bed Bugs Can Cause Extreme Anxiety
Everyone seems to process bed bug infestations a little different. Some people approach it casually like treating ants, and some people completely lose “it.” Loss of sleep, money, energy, time, control over your sanctuary, is bad enough. Knowing you are dealing with an insect that feeds for 3-10 minutes, would make a normally stable person lose their composure or their mind, when faced with bed bugs.
Talk with a professional or your doctor about any stress or loss of sleep you are experiencing as a result of your infestation.
Self Care – Taking Care of Yourself
Coping with Bed Bugs
Try not to completely lose your sense of humor. It’s really hard when you are fatigued, terrorized, afraid, and frustrated, but try to see the humor in the world around you, or at least the irony.
Be nice to yourself. You probably won’t be perfect and probably will make a few mistakes in your approach to bed bug eradication. Now might be a good time to indulge in comfort food, a movie or facebook. Keeping a journal documenting your experience and when and where you get bites can be helpful too.
Friends and Family – How others will React
Accept that the friends and family you tell, will for the most part, not get it. They can’t, in the same way you can’t know what it’s like to have a serious illness, if you haven’t had one. Expect a range of responses from probing questions, disinterest, or those who will compare it with their children’s lice. I found it was best to just not get upset when people were clueless. They just can’t really understand unless they are empathetic, or have had bed bugs.
Tell yourself, you are going to get rid of bed bugs and not allow them to live in your home, car or work. Yes, this is positive thinking, but I believe it helps. I told myself this a lot during my infestation, even when I wasn’t sure I believed it. Eventually, it was true.
Telling People You Have Bed Bugs
Do let people living near you know you have bed bugs. You can help remove the stigmas and misconceptions by educating people around you.
Office and Doctor’s Visits: Tell the office staff about your infestation and be prepared for a possible strong reaction. Many waiting rooms have found themselves with infestations and my experience was, if I told, and I did, that I was whisked into the back and seen pretty quickly. Don’t be offended, people are scared of these things.
Having workers in your house: If you are going to have things caulked, moved in or out of your house, or have work done in your house during your infestation, tell whoever is coming that you have bed bugs. Most people won’t have any idea what you are talking about. It’s a courtesy I would want someone to extend to me before inviting me over.
If you are still waiting for treatment or haven’t decided which treatment you’ll have yet, you really need to get going on that. But in the meantime you can take action and that can surprisingly go a long way to boosting your own spirits and give you a feeling of being part of the solution instead of just a victim of vampire bugs. Things you can do now are take control of clutter. Follow many of the tips and recommendations in preparing for treatment.