Anxiety: Talking about it only makes it worse

Lei zonked out and surrounded by pillows
I’ve heard it said that smart people need less sleep. I’m not sure Lei needs less, but she certainly gets less sleep than she would like.

Last night I put Lei to bed the old fashioned way, by reading together from her a favorite book and snuggling in bed. She usually has trouble falling asleep at night, so I wanted to see if giving her all the attention, togetherness and affection she frequently requests after bedtime would help.

It was lovely, and she was sleepy, and after an hour or so she took off her CI processor (we were working with the newer one only to help it catch up to the other one) and I turned off the light.

“Mom, I can’t sleep.”

How many millions of times have I heard that?

“All these things keep going through my mind, and I see images and shapes, and I can’t sleep.”

I encouraged her to just let her mind drift along with those thoughts and relax into sleep. But they weren’t calm thoughts. They were forcing themselves through her mind, leading her on hair-raising chases and jumping out at her from dark corners. We did some breathing exercises and visualizations, which Lei put little effort into before declaring them failures.

Two hours into this calming bedtime, I left to go to bed.

This is just one way anxiety has been part of our lives for many, many years.

This morning the anxiety was making it hard for her to face going to school. I didn’t try any clever tricks: You’re going to school, I said. Period.

And I wished, just a little bit, that she could take medication for this and feel better.

But I’m not really ready to go that route, not yet. This article gave me lots of good talking points, which I have tried to weave into my conversations with Lei. I found this one insightful, too, though I haven’t been able to implement many of the suggestions yet. It’s a process. However, she resists talking about it or trying the suggested practices because, as she says, talking about anxiety only makes it worse.


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