Insomnia – Fear of Bad Things Happening


(*trigger warning, sexual trauma*)
I have insomnia and a feeling of fear that is pretty persistent. It does happen throughout the day, where I feel uneasy, tightness and tingling in my arms, legs, shoulders, and head that I associate with anxiety, often when I am driving or in anticipation of an online meeting. At night, it is usually before bed, or when I wake up to go to the bathroom and try to go back to sleep. This feels more clearly like fear, heaviness, and uneasiness in my body, an inability to relax. My mind is racing and I think about things that happened, or could happen. I think this is often related to job anxiety (I am currently unemployed, but I would have this when I had a job) where I would feel like I had a deadline or something to do, and wake up early, not be able to sleep, and finally just get up and work so I could feel better. I used to be a ‘good sleeper’ and feel exponentially better when I can sleep 8+ hours, but typically once I get caught up on sleep for a few days, I experience insomnia. I have stopped coffee but I drink tea in the mornings.

I also have iterative worry about my kids and bad things happening in the future. One of my children experienced multiple sexual assaults in their childhood. I found out about this when they told a physician about four years ago. This child was really struggling a couple of years ago with depression, mild substance abuse, fairly extensive cutting, and one suicide attempt. They are nearly 18 now and doing much better. They are home a lot and we get along well. I believe they are not doing drugs and tell me where they are most of the time. They are not non-binary, but I am using they in order to attempt to maintain an agreement of not disclosing the assault to anyone. I have honored this for the most part, but I did tell my sister what happened very generally at one point. I don’t know if keeping this secret is actually a burden, but sometimes it feels like one.

My other child is 25. When he was 18 he became very sick with Crohn’s disease and had emergency abdominal surgery with a 5-week hospital stay, nearly a year with a colostomy bag, very painful procedural interventions to heal, and ongoing chronic pain and digestive distress. He had a follow-up surgery one year later that was extensive and it took three weeks of recovery in the hospital. He was shorter then, but he got down to about 85-90 lbs each time in the hospital due to not being able to eat. I was in graduate school at the time and returned to spend time with him in the hospital for each of the surgeries. I think I stayed about three weeks each time.

He weighs about 180 lbs with weight lifting now and looks amazing. Sometimes he is down to 135 at 5’11” when he is sick. This weight loss and gain is almost all muscle, he can’t really get fat so far. He has chronic fatigue, chronic pain, video game addiction, and depression with a limited capacity for appointments and organizing his shit. He is on a medication that costs 10’s of thousands of dollars a month (likely for a long time/the rest of his life) that is keeping him in remission. He is on disability which provides medical insurance and a very low income. He is doing a lot better right now. He is moving into an apartment that is affordable, but too expensive for him. He has a disability hearing coming up, and he may lose this safety net soon, or at some point in the future.

I feel pressure to somehow prevent bad things from happening in the future, which, I know is not possible. I think I am accustomed to acting my way out of uncomfortable situations. But, besides being unemployed, everything is fine now. I would like to have more money and financial stability and am somewhat unhappy in my relationship, but nothing bad is actually happening right now. I would like my brain to catch up with this fact.

C: Insomnia
T: I have to do something to make this better
F: Anxious
A: Resist my feelings, lay in bed awake, think about things I could be doing, think about things that worry me, list reasons why I am not safe or can’t sleep, remember things that happened in the past, look at my phone or computer, think that something is wrong.
R: I create a problem to solve

C: Insomnia
T: Maybe I don’t need as much sleep as I think
F: Acceptance
A: Get up and do something I feel like doing, accept that I sometimes don’t sleep when I think I should, stop pressuring myself to be a certain way, look at the upsides of sleeping less.
R: I give myself permission to stop resisting my experience

C: G has Crohn’s disease
T: It is too much for him
F: Anxiety
A: Think of things I could be doing to help, worry about the future, take him out to eat, bring him groceries, talk to him about his feelings, give him advice, imagine what could happen in the future, give up hope for him being happy and self-sufficient, think that okay is about as good as things can get for him.
R: I don’t believe he can handle his life

C: G has Crohn’s disease
T: I can celebrate how much G’s health has improved
F: Faith, optimism
A: Stop resisting reality around his illness, appreciate him for who he is right now, stop judging him and myself, be open to him having an amazing future, stop making the medical cost mean that he can’t succeed, help him where I can, let him take responsibility for his life, trust that he can continue to improve, stop resisting that he may continue to need help in the future, stop comparing him to other people, disbelieve negative stories about him from myself and others
R: I make space for G to have his experience without making it about me

C: Child experienced sexual assaults
T: We are not safe
F: Fear
A: Remember things that they told me that freak me out, wonder if I locked the doors, get up and check if I locked the doors, try to ignore my feelings of fear and anxiety, tell myself we are safe, avoid my feelings, resist reality, think that I should have protected them and been a better mom, think about things that could happen in the future if I am not careful and vigilant, worry about them when they move out. Think about how I should have done things differently in the past. Think about things I should do to make us safe (make more money, find a different boyfriend or be single, get a home security system with cameras, be more vigilant about where they are and when).
R: I create the experience of not being safe

C: Child experienced sexual assaults
T: They are just as whole and perfect as before
F: Love
A: Believe that they can be successful and have a good life, stop worrying about a relapse in depression and cutting, encourage them to take responsibility and do more to get ready for life, reduce my guilt, stop taking responsibility for what happened, stop taking the C personally and stop believing in how much it impacts me, trust that we can both feel safe at home, breathe and relax in my body, stop resisting what happened and accept it as part of our history, forgive myself for not being perfect, forgive them for struggling, celebrate how much better things are for both of us now.
R: I create the experience of loving and accepting my child

Any feedback is appreciated, thanks.