Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad


with 25 comments

I’m roused from my sleep suddenly, viciously, by Pudding’s scream.  My husband rushes out of bed before I can even move.  He doesn’t come back, choosing to sleep in the chair by her bed instead.  Melatnonin doesn’t help, the weighted blanket is working, or the white noise, or anything else.  She just needs her sleep, just like the rest of us.  This is the second time he has gone to her, and I know he is too tired to do it again.  He has to work in the morning.  It is 4 am, and my heart pounds.  I try to breathe, I’m suffocating.  Amongst the noise of thoughts pushing for attention in my head, one is louder.  This is anxiety, it shouts.  I listen.  I try to breathe in and out, slowly, quickly, through my nose or mouth, anything to calm myself.

Sleep evades me.  Though I’m in a fog from headache tablets, I can’t find the peace I need.  Eventually I get up.  I’m not supposed to have anxiety.  My husband has struggled on and off all his life.  For my girl, it is the shackle of her autism.  My boy doesn’t escape it either, but this is new to me.  Now I’m in anxiety’s grip too.

I come downstairs and start to type, hoping that I can write out these thoughts that are looping around my head.  This has been building up for a couple of weeks, not just for me, but for Pudding too.  She has been struggling with sleeping alone.  Stressed and exhausting, I allowed her to sleep with me.  I know it isn’t the right approach, and by taking the path of least resistance, I’m exacerbating the problem, but I’ve just been too stressed.

Wait.  The path of least resistance has led to this stress.  These things are not happening independently.  I’m stressed, so I slack, and that exacerbates the problem which makes me….you’ve guessed it- more stressed.  And Pudding doesn’t so well surrounded by stress.  She absorbs and then reflects all the emotions around her.  It makes her anxious.  Seeing her struggle makes me more stressed, and round and round, and down and down we go.

So I must stop.  I have to be the one to stop the spiral, because she can’t.

I need to focus on calming her by providing what she needs, not what is easiest to give her.  First she needs patience, a resource that is in incredibly short supply when we don’t get sleep.  She needs positive reinforcement.  She needs her senses soothed even if she doesn’t feel like doing the things that will help her.  She needs consistency and she needs social stories to explain what is going on.  In short, she needs all the supports that I readily provide when I’m feeling at my best, but which have somehow dropped away as my anxiety took its hold.

It is not to say that I’m not allowed to feel stressed, or anxious, or just plain miserable.  I just need to make sure that when I’m feeling this way, I don’t take away all the things that she needs to prevent her from these very same feelings.  It was a revelation: I can be the beginning of the anxiety, but that also means I can end it.  It will take more effort at a time when making an effort is the last thing I feel like doing, but the results are already promising.  And she has slept through the night by herself before, so she will do it again, as always, in her own time, and with the supports she needs.

As for me, I feel better already.  Maybe this is the beginning of the end of anxiety.


This post was submitted for the S-O-S Best of the Best series on Anxiety, which will be published on May 15th, 2011.  You find more information and read other submissions here.

Taking part in the Mental Health Blog Party:


May 18th, 2011

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 29, 2011 at 7:28 am

25 Responses

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  1. There are so many things in play when it comes to sleep – or not being able to.
    I hope you all get some sleep very soon.
    Patience is so hard to find, as you say, when you are drained. Giving yourself the path of least resistance options elsewhere might help you with this one, perhaps the most important of all!
    Right now Perky wants company to fall asleep. We are working on him not needing it. Some nights he is fine, others he just can’t settle without help.
    It is very up and down for everyone.
    We have moved on from the night waking (for which I will be eternally grateful, I honestly know how you and your husband feel right now) and I know he will get there, it will take work, as you say.
    And a wise woman said to me a very short while ago, there is always more tea to help deal with the blurry starts to the day (and the stumbles at the end of it) 🙂
    I hope the anxiety stays at bay.


    April 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

    • I hope so too. We’ll get there hopefully sooner rather than later. The sleep issues seem to go in cycles here. I hope Perky (what happened to the name change?) gets there too.
      Hopefully one day I’ll get to share a cup of tea with you. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

      • Perky is still Perky, it is Captain Nintendo who had the change!
        Yes, one day a cup of tea together would be perfect. 🙂


        April 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  2. my little guy is still in my bed at night…. but then again both my “typical” children stayed in my bed waaaaaay past what is deemed appropriate to do so. so many days when i’m just too tired or just want to listen to him breathe close to me…. he will be on his own soon enough!! don’t stress out over it, she WILL sleep on her own through the night someday soon. anxiety is such a horrible feeling to live with, clouds perspective, hopeing for you that this truly is the beginning of the end of it!!


    April 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

    • I’m going to whisper a confession: I stayed in my parents’ bed way too long too. My husband can’t stand it though, and it isn’t right for us as a family, but it would make for a much easier solution!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

  3. (((hugs)))

    Julia has ALWAYS had to sleep with me. From the first minute. She goes to sleep in her own bed by herself but at some point she ends up with me. Almost all the time. She has had some short spurts of not needing me, but mostly she still does.

    Good luck. 🙂


    April 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

  4. We still snuggle/sleep spend time with at night with our kids. It’s such a security for them. They do eventually make it to their own beds but not without a lot of angst first.

    I’ve been up at 4:00am every morning from I don’t know what and OMG, its sooo hard to be without sleep. I hope your headache breaks and you can get some zzzzz’s…if not, you can find me on twitter. 😉


    April 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

    • I promise you this: you will never see me at 4am on Twitter, unless we’re in a different time zone. Twitter saps my energy. I sneak in and out before I get a headache!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

  5. Anxiety runs in my family. My mother and grandmother self-medicated it with alcohol. I choose Lexapro. I think I would drink myself into oblivion without this little pill. I can’t do that or I would always be asleep. I can’t be insane and keep the sanity in my house. Someone has to be calm to keep the boys calm. They do reflect our emotions. Read my latest post: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Confessions-Of-An-Aspergers-Mom/113171498759099

    Karen-Aspergers Mom

    April 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

    • It is tough, isn’t it. I’m hoping mine turns out to be temporary due to the extra stress right now. It is enough seeing all my loved ones suffering with it.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 3:45 pm

  6. We have gone through some very bad sleep phases too. It is terrible. I am convinced there is nothing worse than sleep deprivation. I can only say that I hope yours comes and goes, goes more than comes. We are only up 2 nights a week now, which is pretty good I hear for kids on the spectrum.


    April 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    • Nope, nothing worse. That is why they use it as torture. I would now make an excellent spy, at least.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

  7. sleep issues, behavior issues, anxiety issues? yeah, we have that covered here too. My son still doesn’t fall asleep on his own if I’m in the house. If I’m not here, he’ll go and wait for me there, and fall asleep. Yeah, so it’s about me. And my path of least resistance as well. You do what you have to do to get you through the night. But once it’s not getting you through the night anymore…then you have to change it. As painful as it is for everyone…
    (and getting back to me for a moment. I know that anxiety. I never suffered from it until about 3 years ago. Now I’m awake with fear even on those precious few days when the kids sleep all night long. it stinks)


    April 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  8. dare I saw could you consider a weekend solo – even somewhere cheap & driveable – have DH consider it your version of a business trip – a book, some wine, a solo dinner. Heaven, huh? take away all of the pieces you do for others & spend 2 days on yourself. Doesn’t have to be full spa treatments, just a walk in the woods, taking care of your own needs/meals/self for 2 days, before you ramp up for the move. Tell Sparky I ordered this one 😉


    April 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    • One day Emma. Right now SParky would be on board, but the finances just aren’t cutting it. Hopefully when we move. We could both use it, to be honest.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

  9. Another post I need to frame, or at least the last paragraph. I too now have anxiety for the first time ever and have been doing the exact same as you are describing and taking the path of least resistance. Thank you for the reminder that I can do better x

    Blue Sky

    April 30, 2011 at 4:42 am

  10. Oh gosh, I totally get this. It can be a vicious cycle with the stress and sleep deprivation. Those are the times when I slack the most on my kids’ therapy, which only makes things worse.

    Good luck!


    May 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  11. I am the author of a magazine for parents with anxiety. The Anxious child can be read at http://magazine.joomag.com/Theanxiouschild/0426067001299001536. I also have a community on facebook under circle of moms at http://www.circleofmoms.com/parenting-with-empathy-for-separation-anxiety/are-you-sleeping-with-your-child-at-bedtime-639025?trk=notif_comm_none#post_4122579. Join and meet other moms with similar issues. I am also researching hypnosis cds and have a link to a wide selection at http://www.brainplayground.com. Sometimes you need your rest and sleep with your children but tomorrow is a new day!


    May 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

  12. You have such terrific insight. Your kids are in great hands.


    May 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

  13. […] Mummy presents Anxiety at Spectrummy Mummy. This mother shares how she was feeling an increased level of stress and so was […]

  14. What a fantastic post
    My son too – picks up on all my emotions ( and we can feed off each other – which is fine when its positive energy and not so fine when its not )
    I am often reminded of the airline instructions before take off – put my own oxygen mask first

    Floortime Lite Mama

    May 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

  15. […] and Asperger’s, of course.  A is also for ADHD, another diagnosis for Pudding.  A is for anxiety, goodness knows I’ve written about that, and hardly covered how it impacts our life.  A is […]

  16. […] it was a sheep though. feeling stressed and anxious being mummy Oh yes, you’ll find that here.  In good news though, you’re just guilt away from being a good enough mother. what kind of […]

  17. […] to Light It Up Blue.  It was full of highs like Pudding beginning to write, and the lows of anxiety.  I had that revelation that my behaviour is communication.  Some of those days I’d be […]

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