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Jean
Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience:  Masters degree in counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
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Hi. I am experiencing severe anxiety and cannot sleep. I can

Resolved Question:

Hi. I am experiencing severe anxiety and cannot sleep. I can manage them, but it is really affecting my sleeping and recharging. Do you have any suggestions as to how to calm down?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Jean replied 1 year ago.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Hello, I can assist you- Welcome!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I'd like to ask you a few additional questions to better assist you. How long have you been dealing with this severe anxiety?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You said you can "manage" them, but having trouble sleeping- what have you found helpful to manage them?

Customer:

well, this current wave of anxiety attacks only started three days ago and only occurs at night when i want to sleep

Customer:

i used to have severe panic attacks some 15 years ago and was able to work through them just by myself with calming techniques

Customer:

i find helpful to think that i will be fine and get through this

Customer:

I have just started a new job and moved to a new city and there is a lot of pressure i put myself under

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Thank you for joining me! Yes, of course, "only when you want to sleep". Is there anything particularly stressful that has happened in the past three days?

Customer:

so i guess i would maybe like a few calming techniques i might not have tried

Customer:

yes. i have started a new job and am finding it difficult to relax

Jean N/20pluscounts :

  • Create a Boring Routine – Your mind finds boring routines comfortable. A long, boring routine free of technology before you go to sleep can help calm your stresses and make it easier to sleep soundly.

  • Keep a Journal By You – When you have thoughts that keep you awake, writing out those thoughts can also help. Once they're on paper, your mind will realize that it's okay not to obsess over them, and sleep will be easier.

  • Exercise During the Day – When your body is truly tired, and your energy levels have been depleted, even stress has a hard time keeping you awake. Exercising during the day can make sleeping much easier.


Most of all, never avoid sleep on purpose. You absolutely need sleep in order to cope with the anxieties and stresses of the day.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

A few things to address anxiety and sleep

Customer:

thanks. i think it has also to do with the fact that my base level of stress is quite high because i feel under pressure from my mother to save her from loneliness. i know that she does this unintentionally but it creates stress in me.

Customer:

i also know that this is my own stress i am creating but i am dreaming about her holding on to me

Jean N/20pluscounts :

A new job, even a good opportunity, can create stress and increased anxiety. That's a biggie with your mother- to "save" her. Right, she does not "intend" to put that pressure on you, but you take it on, naturally.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Often there is some trigger or origin for the increased stress and trouble sleeping- lots on your mind, hard to quiet the mind. Finding ways to quiet your mind, such as journal writing can help. Having someone to talk to, support, reaching out to others.

Customer:

i do all that. i am a very conscious and social person. i was wondering if you would have any particular technique to relax?

Customer:

i know there is no magical fix

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Our minds and bodies in such a state are trying to tell "us" something. A physical response with the anxiety. Need to listen, and sort it out.

Customer:

ok. sort it out, meaning do a therapy?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Are you familiar with progressive relaxation? Body scanning? Sort it out, can mean writing, talking to someone, maybe therapy if those things don't help.

Customer:

body scanning?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's getting into a relaxed state through focus on where you feel it in your body, and breathing into those areas. Where do you feel your anxiety- i.e. chest, neck, stomach?

Customer:

heart

Customer:

it is like a rush, like a heart attack. but i know i dont have one

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You visualize breathing, bringing oxygen into those areas. Also can simply start at one end of your body and breath into those areas- such as feet, legs, head, neck- going up or down your body and focus on those body parts as you breath.

Customer:

is there any good way to stop letting others put pressure on me? like a tough job experience, or family or myself even.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Yes focus on your heart, pay closer attention to those areas- ask your heart what it needs. Strange but- our bodies do want to "correct" them self. Heart/blood is family- interesting huh?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

With a full plate- finding balance- learning to say "no". limiting giving so so much.

Customer:

creating friendly but firm limits, yes, that has always been a challenge for me. it is something i have never learned in my family.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Like you said- we often put that pressure on our self- more so than others. Reminding yourself you do enough, are enough, and avoid "shoulding" on your self. Pay close attention to the thoughts, and learning to think more realistically- positively.

Customer:

it is weird, because i am actually a very positive and pro-active person. i just struggle with my relationship with my mother for all sorts of reasons

Jean N/20pluscounts :

We tell our self many negative things in a day- really critical. It starts by paying attention to those thoughts. Yes- you feel it in your heart, and it relates to your mother. What is happening there do you think- lots I bet.

Customer:

oh, we just had a bad experience as a family together and my sister has since cut all contact and my parents are not allowed to see their grand children anymore and i am "the only one left£ and being lifted up on a pedestal

Customer:

so i cannot do wrong, but that creates pressure, and they always need me to be there

Customer:

especially my mom

Customer:

she is not a very psychologically aware woman and i dont know how to talk to her effectively

Jean N/20pluscounts :

One thought is to write a letter to your mother- do not need to send it. I really like the love letter format that can be found in the book Men are From Mars Women are From Venus. I can find a link for you. It's a nice format to sort through layers of emotions. A lot is put on you- right- You are only one person- that's where the boundaries and limits are vital.

Customer:

being alone is her biggest fear in life and she keeps saying: you are all i have left. even thought ethy do lots of things and have friends and everything. i live in a different country but even here i can feel the pressure

Customer:

with my new life on top of that this creates a lot of pressure

Customer:

hm, yeah, that would be a good idea

Customer:

i havent read that book

Customer:

fundamentally, i do not believe we are so different from men ;) so i never read it

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Using "I" statements with her- I feel overwhelmed, whatever the emotion is. When we use "I" others are less defensive- do not feel so attacked. We do not want to think our parents, mother are suffering- we naturally take that on- she's your mother. The book is more intended for male and female relationships- great for that- but I often use the love letter would any two people.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

with any two people- I mean

Customer:

great, i'll try that. i just dont know how to talk to her

Customer:

she is not very mature, and i am not judging her for it, she had a hard life, but it is hard to communicate, which is why my sister gave up

Jean N/20pluscounts :

The format starts with intense emotions such as anger, frustration, and gradually takes you more to sadness- helps sort it out.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Right- likely a reason your sister had to remove her self- might she be a support for you- can validate and relate to your struggle.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It sounds like stuff with your mother lies heavily on you- and heavy on your shoulders, on your mind, heart...

Customer:

yeah. it probably does. my sister is similar to my mother, they are both very much you are either with me or against me.

Customer:

so i am always in the middle, mediating

Customer:

which is an awful place to be

Customer:

my dad removes himself and defers to my mom

Customer:

she is running the business. she created the world to suit herslf and make everything about herself. because of her own insecurities

Customer:

i can see all this but cannot help it from affecting me

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Finding a way to balance the amount of time you spend on this with your mother- certain times, days, etc. Knowing you will have the contact, you deciding when that may be. Sounds like lots of pressure- assumed rules, way you are expected to be for her. Sounds like you would like some validation from your mother- vs. such a focus on herself.

Customer:

thats the funny thing. they give me TOO MUCH validation. they are so proud of me, of the path i have taken. it is like i am infallible. but that creates other kinds of pressure. and i am always uncomfortable if people expect me to be pefect, because no one is

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You may tend to take on her struggle- feel responsible to "fix" it- not working so well, is it? She needs to do much of that herself. Maybe coming up with ideas with her to reach out, form some relationships etc. You can offer ideas, but she will need to decide if she wants to make the change- you can not do that for her. Reminding yourself- it's her struggle- feel sad, but allow it to remain with her. Lots of pressure put on you to be "perfect".

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Maybe begin to share some of your true feelings, struggles with your family- they will not know unless you tell them. They see you as Wonder Woman, maybe- "perfect".

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Allow them to get to know you- the real you- takes courage to share that- but that can allow you to create a closer relationship with them.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

When your mother and sister see you as "perfect", they may see you as not struggling.

Customer:

yes.

Customer:

we dont tend to share our real feelings and overstep emotioal boundaries. it has always been like this in my family. we are not a psychologically aware bunch :) i have tried to educate myself and see my own patterns but it is hard to see my family in such psychological shambles

Customer:

beginning when both my sister and i were sexually abused (but not raped) as children by the best friend of my parents

Customer:

and then from there everything went pear shaped

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Take some small steps to share your struggle- see how they respond- may surprise them huh? They may be responding to what you "show" them- the roll you have taken on. It sounds like you are successful in your life- but ready to reach out a bit- not to be so "perfect". Many families are this way- not something many of us have learned. Generations of no one talking!! I'm sorry about that- sexually abused- that's tough.

Customer:

well, it should have been. it was tough for my sister but i always felt guilty because it seemingly affected me less than her

Customer:

it is common wisdom that thing slike that basically destroy people's life but i somehow went through it with little damage

Customer:

that produces feelings of guilt

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Sexually abused by "best friends" of your parents- that can leave an unresolved wound- especially if people don't "talk". Pretend it is not there- but it is- The "no talk" rule is so common in families. You found a different way to cope- not right or wrong, just different.

Customer:

well, i feel bad keeping you for so long. i found the letter you were talking about on the internet and will try to write it. maybe that helps. in any case, thank you for taking so long to talk to me. i guess i might find professional help in the area here and schedule a few sessions to talk things out. professionals like you know what to ask and how to find the answers that can alleviate stress

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's amazing to me how two people in one family such as you and your sister have such a different experience- can do with temperament- if one is able to allow things to roll off their back a bit more. Sounds like you found other ways to cope, deal with it- an over achiever maybe? The hero of the family- someone in the family who brings dignity to the family when there is dysfunction or trauma.

Customer:

hm, thats an interesting theory

Customer:

i have to think about that a bit. i certainly feel my family has no dignity and it hurts me

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I'm glad you posted- let me know if I can help again. If you'd be so kind to rate my response to you okay or higher, so I can get credit, much appreciated. Take Care. Yes birth order- hero, comes from the alcohol and drug treatment, family field.

Customer:

ok, thank you. have a good day/evening, wherever you are

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You too!

Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience: Masters degree in counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
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