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  • #95368
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    I am sorry to read about you not getting enough sleep for so long. It is very important for an anxious person to get enough sleep, as you know. Slow down and minimize your activities, taking it as easy as is possible, avoiding doing anything that is not necessary… until you get to sleep regularly. I am concerned because there is no easy fix it to insomnia… and as I think about it right moment, it scares me to not sleep. I didn’t sleep well last night.

    And no wonder you feel distressed around teenagers: you were seriously bullied by teenagers!

    Is there something really nice and comforting you can think of when trying to sleep? I used to make up a movie in my mind, something full of love and romance or imagine floating on a raft on a calm river or lying down on the grass in a forest, the trees above, your favorite setting….?

    anita

    #95370
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, getting enough sleep is important. I’ve come to realize how vital it is. I end up much calmer on days during which I get enough sleep, although those are few in between.

    I will definitely slow down and only focus on doing what is due/necessary.

    It scares me as well to not sleep. How long have you had insomnia? I understand it is common in people with anxiety disorders.

    Is there anyway I can learn to become comfortable around teenagers? Just knowing that they are looking at me is enough to make my skin crawl and make me turn red.

    I’ve tried the whole movie thing, but that only makes me less sleepy, thinking about how it’ll all resolve. I become involved in the movie. Eventually I fall asleep sometimes, other times it doesn’t work.

    I love your idea about the raft on a calm river. I would love to envision that when I can’t sleep. I can already imagine myself wearing light clothes, listening to the flow of the water, feeling the soft wind on my skin, breathing the fresh air, seeing the greenery around me! What a delight!!! That was an amazing idea Anita! The forest idea is great as well, I’ll try and alternate it with the raft one! I hadn’t thought to incorporate such imagery in my mind. I’d do it for my brother when he was scared after having a nightmare, but I had never thought to do it for myself. Any other ideas for imagery?

    #95425
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    Something that came to my mind right now is that it will probably not be a good idea for you to work with teenagers, as in being a middle school or high school teacher!

    I thought about you last night as I found myself awake and starting to become more and more awake THINKING about being up. So I thought: what if I try (again) what I told Aislynn and let her know how it worked for me in the morning, when I write to you. I imagined lying in the sun because I remember how the warm sun, sometimes the hot sun, on the beach, that hot sun on me, how it automatically calmed me, sort of squeezed out all the fear in me! Same as a hot tub or a hot bath does, ever a hot shower! That image and feel of the sun did calm me and I lost that awake-and-getting-more-awake feeling.

    I didn’t sleep perfectly but good enough. Regarding imagining a whole movie, I see how it will not do the job when you are involved with the details and resolutions. Maybe just a scene as lying in the sun will do? Not perfectly but somewhat helpful…just like it was for me last night… or the raft on a calm river.

    I’ve been writing this post as I am reading parts of yours: you choose what is most calming for you, the imagery. Just like drinking tea works for you and then one time it doesn’t … but may work again, same here. And any such tool (remember the tool box?) will not work perfectly every time. So you change tools, scenes to imagine.

    Let me know how this works…

    anita

    #95426
    anita
    Participant

    * regarding other ideas for imagery: depends what calms you during the day, anytime: if it is the touch of fur (your dog)- you may actually pet him if he is there or have a small pet toy with you with fur that you can hold close and touch. It may be a sound (there are or were “sleep machines” for sale that play nothing but falling rain on one setting, a train on another…) and it may be a visual imagery of nature… even the imagery of a person’s face, a person that is calming to you, smiling at you. And anything of nature- the sight of an endless, quiet desert, or the top of a mountain, all alone there. It can be the imagery of being inside a .. a hug, an embrace, someone hugging you and you sleep inside that hug….

    anita

    #95726
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Oh no! I would definitely never consider teaching middle school or high school. I think it would just worsen my situation. I do not even think I could be an elementary teacher. Bullying is too much of an issue now in every grade and I would feel vulnerable regardless of the age of the children I am teaching. It takes me back to feeling lost, vulnerable, and alone. When I go to pick up my brother from school and I have to go inside to pick him up I can’t help but remember how miserable I felt during those last 2 years there. One of the other children I pick up at my brother’s school was actually a victim of bullying and I couldn’t help but feel heartache when I found out what they were saying to him. I couldn’t help but cry. I think teaching at any level would not be good for me.

    It’s great that imagery worked for you, even if you didn’t sleep perfectly. However, you and I, and other insomnia sufferers need every little bit of sleep we can manage.

    The nature imagery is what I believe would work best for me. The mountain idea sounds great. For now I haven’t been able to give the imagery a try. I’ve been falling asleep very easily and I find myself pushing the snooze button on the alarm very frequently. However, I know it is only a matter of time before the insomnia returns, and when it does I will make sure to try it out.

    #95736
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    I like how sure you are about not teaching any school grade, all the way to 12. At least you know so you will not put any time and effort into such.

    Soon to be another night here. Slept okay last night, the usual except I was up at 4:45 AM or so. I sure hope you sleep well and do not expect to be insomniac forever: do not expect either way. Over time, as you get calmer in life, you will sleep better and better. When awake, relax, try to not WANT to fall asleep.Let me know how the mountain imagery works.. or not. Aislynn on top of a tall mountain, all alone at the top, I like the imagery myself!

    anita

    #95940
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    After you wake up, like you did a few days ago at 4:45 AM is it easy for you to fall back asleep or is it like night time all over again for you?

    It’s not that I expect to be an insomniac forever, I just don’t expect it to change.

    Still haven’t tried the imagery idea, but yes, the mountain imagery sounds amazing, I wish I could one day try it in real life!

    I find that slowly my energy levels have been going up. Unfortunately, while that is good, it has raised my anxiety levels once again. I actually had two anxiety attacks on Thursday.I tried to detach myself from it, so that I could analyze it as you had mentioned, looking at it from another perspective. Well, I couldn’t find anything that was really making me nervous or anxious.

    During my first anxiety attack I was at the store, and I felt my stomach cramping up. I went to the restroom just to try and relax. I stood there in the stall trying to relax my breathing. I closed my eyes and I could feel as slowly I got goosebumps on my arms, then I felt cold, but then it got so hot I felt closed in. It was very uncomfortable and my hair was all over the place, even plastered on my face. Analyzing it in that moment, I felt trapped and claustrophobic. I couldn’t breathe. I thought about and said to myself, “wait a minute, what is going on? What is causing this? You’re at the store, its not rush hour, nothing negative or uncomfortable has happened, you’re about to go home.” Well, that calmed me down and I was able to leave the store without any further anxiety or issues.

    The other anxiety attack happened at my house. I was in my room doing school work. I felt like I was going to puke and my stomach was in knots. I went to the bathroom, locked the door and hovered over the sink, just in case I might actually vomit. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on what I was feeling and what I was seeing although my eyes were closed. I could see shadows of red, lines of orange, and slowly it was giving way to darkness. I focused on my body and I could feel my hand over my mouth. I felt the pinpricks of the goosebumps slowly rise. This time, the goosebumps went up all the way to my head. It was uncomfortable and I was cold. I tried to detach myself from the situation and had this conversation with myself, “what’s going on? You’re at home, no one is causing you to feel uncomfortable, you are safe. Perhaps you’ve been doing to much homework and should take a break.” Slowly that calmed me down.

    My question is, am I doing good when it comes to detaching myself and analyzing the situation, or do you have any recommendations about how I should be doing it?

    #95944
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    After I woke up at 4:45 I did not try to sleep again. When I wake up at 1 am or so, I try to sleep again. I have my cell phone near the bed so I can see the time. If it is “late” enough I don’t try to go back to sleep. So the intent is important.

    I like it that you don’t expect to be insomniac forever and that you don’t expect to not be.

    You wrote above: “I tried to detach myself from it, so that I could analyze it as you had mentioned, looking at it from another perspective. Well, I couldn’t find anything that was really making me nervous or anxious.” My suggestion to you was to observe your fear… like watching your hand right now: the hand being like your fear. You are not all hand, only part of you is a hand. My correction to the quote is to observe the part of you that is anxious, not to analyze it.

    Analysis is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tool, another tool in the tool box which you used very well in the store and at home and it worked in both situations. You can use both tools, the second maybe after the first but not at the same time.

    I was thinking lately, about fear, how it scares us so much, how it feels dangerous, but the feeling of fear is not dangerous. If it was … can you imagine a movie theater and a horror movie is playing, real scary? At the end of the movie, when the lights are back on, there should be dead bodies all over the theater, scared to death.

    But nature made it so that when there is real danger, the sight of a predator, for example, the animal that is possible prey feels fear. The feeling of fear feels so dangerous that the animal becomes fully alert and ready for action. The danger is potentially very real, but not the experience of fear itself.

    Glad we are continuing this thread, Aislynn!

    anita

    #96123
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    I thought about you two nights ago when I was up at night. I thought about the top of the mountain imagery that you liked but didn’t try last time you wrote me. I thought if you are at the top of a mountain, it is very quiet up there, no sound but the wind and if you look down from the mountain you can see tiny dots, the dots are people down there, and tiny squares, these are buildings… you can see the school from which you pick up your brother and the tiny dots that are the bullies there and you can see a small square that is the store you don’t like to go to … and you can see all the places you are anxious about, all tiny dots and tiny little squares, so far away and so insignificant from the top of the mountain while all along all you can hear is the wind. And a soft sun warms your face… what do you think?

    anita

    #96198
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    “But nature made it so that when there is real danger, the sight of a predator, for example, the animal that is possible prey feels fear. The feeling of fear feels so dangerous that the animal becomes fully alert and ready for action. The danger is potentially very real, but not the experience of fear itself.” This makes a lot of sense. When it comes to predator and prey, the fear response sounds rational and fight or flight seems like a great way to deal with such danger. However, when it comes to anxiety those reactions are not very helpful at all.

    “I thought if you are at the top of a mountain, it is very quiet up there, no sound but the wind and if you look down from the mountain you can see tiny dots, the dots are people down there, and tiny squares, these are buildings… you can see the school from which you pick up your brother and the tiny dots that are the bullies there and you can see a small square that is the store you don’t like to go to … and you can see all the places you are anxious about, all tiny dots and tiny little squares, so far away and so insignificant from the top of the mountain while all along all you can hear is the wind. And a soft sun warms your face… what do you think?” Brilliant, Anita. That is what I think. Such a great way to put it. I imagined what you described just there, and I tried it last night, and guess what? I felt so happy and comforted, because it really was just me up on that mountain, away from all my troubles and anxieties. I was alone and felt happy, no nagging thoughts or concerns, or issues of any kind.

    After that I envisioned being up on that mountain surrounded by other mountains and terrain, all alone for miles and miles, and that truly felt great. It gave me a feeling of utter happiness.

    It worked so well that I was able to promptly fall asleep. I don’t even recall thinking about the imagery long before I fell asleep.

    #96207
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    I think you made a good observation about Fight or Flight not being helpful when it comes to anxiety. The reason is that anxiety, this ongoing fear is no longer based on “clear and immediate danger” such as the sight of a predator. Anxiety is based on .. being Frozen in fear. The third option of an animal is Freeze. It is: Fight, Flight or Freeze.

    When you are stuck in a scary situation, like having been exposed to bullies in school day in and day out, with running away and fighting day after day not an option, or if attempted, not successful, then you Freeze. The fear freezes in you. This frozen fear state is the ongoing state of anxiety.

    What do we do when we are no longer in the danger that triggered the original fear, that is, you not being in school bullied? We thaw, unfreeze. Now, this is truly easier said than done. But we do need to get unfrozen, thawed. Through mindfulness and the top of the mountain imagery you successfully tried. We thaw using the tools in the tool box. Over time, with insight, attention, skills… we thaw.

    Animals face danger in nature all the time. They often Fight or run away and they don’t get traumatized: they don’t freeze. If they do freeze, because they can’t run or fight, as when caught by the predator and held in its mouth, then they freeze and feel minimal pain. That doesn’t last for long because they are either eaten and die or the predator lets them go believing they are dead and not wanting to eat something already dead.

    In human life, the complexity of human life, we find ourselves frozen for long periods of time.

    Thaw… it does feel good to thaw, little by little. It is possible as you last experienced!

    anita

    #97355
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    Ten days since my last post on your thread. Hope you sleep better these nights! And hope Mindful practice is ongoing, sometimes, at the least. Remember, listening to sounds.. and the toolbox, this tool working today, another tomorrow. And the imagery you liked last, the one of you on top of a mountain, in that silence up there with all the daily life issues down below, far away.

    Please do feel free to post here, on your thread, anytime. It doesn’t matter when you last posted. You can take any break you want at any time and post again at your convenience. I will reply when you do.

    Take good care of yourself:

    anita

    #110676
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I was doing very well with my anxiety. In my everyday interactions with people I was doing fine. To my surprise I actually found myself engaging in better conversations with strangers/ actually paying attention. It really felt good. However, I have reached another setback which brings me fear, anguish, and anxiety. This situation honestly makes me want to hide away. This particular dilemma is in regards to going back to dating about which I’ve just posted. The idea of going out with this guy gives me so much anxiety because I don’t know him, but do know his family. I don’t want to make a fool of myself. I don’t want him to think I’m ugly. I don’t want to deal with all the social aspects of going on dates out to places I’ve never been. It’s one thing to go out and be somewhere new, a level of anxiety I can sort of manage, and it’s another thing to be there with someone I could possibly get romantically involved with. It is scaring me so much that I couldn’t really sleep at all last night. I feel the anxiety surging and rising within me, despite the fact that maybe I won’t get to meet him for a good 4 months or so. It feels as though I am worrying over nothing. However, you have taught me that my emotions and feelings are valid and I’m trying to apply that. I don’t want to miss out on a good guy simply because I’m too nervous and scared to go on a date/go out to places. Any insight for me Anita?

    #110677
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Aislynn:

    You are back! So glad to read from you again, exactly five months since your last post. Although I wish you weren’t anxious.

    You are not going to date him for 4 months? You are anxious about going out with him four months from now? I am not suggesting you shouldn’t be anxious (I am glad you remember our emotions are valid and have messages for us that need to be heard and addressed), I am trying to understand the situation. So is it in four months and how did it come about that you are going to date him?

    anita

    #110733
    Aislynn
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    By saying four months I just meant sometime in the near future. This all depends on when his family has a birthday party or celebration that we (my family) are invited to. For all I know it could be anywhere from one month to a year.

    It freaks me out because I don’t know him. I don’t like the idea of being set up or going on a date with a stranger. I’d much rather be friends first (arising from a normal situation, not something that’s been contrived). This is way WAY too much out of my comfort zone.

    In regards to something you said in the other thread. You are right, I would then not only have to worry about Richard and his thoughts about me, but I’d also most likely be dealing with the opinions of Ava, Michelle, and my mom. Quite frankly, that makes me feel like a soap opera that they are creating and getting together to discuss. On top of that, I have no idea just how much Richard would share with his sisters.

    Part of me wants to date someone I’ve been set up with because I figure it might be a better/easier match, but then I also cannot stand the prospect of all the meddling. But then again, I also would rather deal with meddling, than going out with a stranger whose family night not even like me.

    I have not even gone on one date with him and I am already having such intense and conflicting thoughts.

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