“My 14-year-old daughter came into our bedroom this morning, with a discombobulated messy bun and distress etched in her eyes.
‘I was panicking last night and couldn’t sleep. I only slept an hour,’ she whispered dejectedly.
‘Come here, baby,’ I quickly sat up and enveloped her in a tight hug.
I gave her the option to stay home from school today and do class online. Thankfully, right now this is possible.
It’s the third time in 3 weeks she’s stayed home due to insomnia.
I know the condition all too well.
As a child, I had crippling anxiety. At the time, of course, I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was I couldn’t sleep. In fact, bedtime was my least favorite part of the day.
My mind spun like a top the second my head touched the pillow. Hours upon hours of running scenarios. Afraid of burglars breaking into the house or a fire starting or ghosts. I would re-live past conversations. I would worry about upcoming tests, getting picked last in gym, or forgetting my locker combination. I would stress about being left out of friend gatherings, or worse yet, getting invited.
I slept even worse at other people’s houses. I had an unnerving fear of sleepovers because I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping. At all.
When my daughter was little and would wake in the middle of the night, she would get up, turn her bedtime CD back on, and quickly drift back into a deep sleep. She always slept hard. An earthquake couldn’t stir her.
I wish there was a simple fix now. A magical playlist that could erase her worries and ease the panic. There is no lullaby that powerful.
I remember the insomnia I was plagued with: lying in bed for hours, exhausted but so restless, the numbers on the clock forever changing, speeding up, mocking me. Having to go to school with dull gray cobwebs draped in my brain. My bones weeping from fatigue.
I told no one, neither about my sleeplessness nor my anxiety. I lived with it; no, suffered with it.
I am grateful she doesn’t have to.
I can’t take this burden from her. But I can understand, I can listen, I can wrap her in my embrace and give her the day off of school.
As a mom, I need to do more, but this has to be enough.
For as long as she’ll let me, I will be her stand-in lullaby.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Neeb. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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