Insomnia and Mental health

We’ve dealt with insomnia for a very long time here.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I have had troubles sleeping since I was but a wee child. Ironically, I married a man who also has trouble sleeping. He has tossed, turned, talked in his sleep and has been a very active “sleeper” since before I married him. I suspect we both suffered with loss of sleep for much of our lives.

Then, more ironically, we adopted our sweet son, who also has severe issues with sleeping.

What is the common thread here? Anxiety. There, I said it. We all suffer from some of that, plus a good dose of unique issues that we were born with. For our J-man, he had night terrors from early on. He slept relatively well for the first year. Then sometime, around two years of age, he would wake up screaming. He would not settle unless I yelled over his screaming, woke him up, consoled him and laid him back in bed. Poor guy. I would feel so guilty yelling at my little fella, but it was the only way. The other way he would stay calm is if we let him sleep in our room, which he did many nights, on the floor. It seemed that he was more peaceful when he fell asleep beside us. I did not relate it to anxiety back then.

Then there was school. Oh my. School has been a source of unbridled stress for him. I didn’t know that his nightmares were related to stress until well into the first grade. Not only did he have nightmares, but would often walk in his sleep. We could predict exactly what time at night it would be, too. We had some very serious issues arise that year that led us to seek Mental Health help. We still did not have a formal diagnosis, which didn’t help at all. We all just realized he was dealing with social issues at school that were causing deep anxiety and depression. He was only 6 then. I thought that was much too young to be dealing with these kind of things. The therapist was a lovely lady, but unfortunately she ended up with serious health issues of her own, which ended her career and left us wondering where to go next.

We discovered Melatonin some time in the second grade. It was a miracle worker!  It seemed to help him fall asleep when NOTHING else could. He was responding so much better to stress, over all, because he was getting sleep. Who knew that sleep was so important?

Eventually, we got a diagnosis, which I knew from early on. It was helpful having it on paper and getting more serious help for our boy. Finding the people to support us has been an ongoing challenge. We have had to drive hours for a trained child psychologist, who has been a blessing. We have found a psychiatrist, who is wonderful, in the city near us. We are so thankful that she is a balanced (and “normal”) Dr. who prescribes only when all other alternatives have been exhausted. She has been helpful in dealing with specific issues and encourages the strategies I have found and tried. She has suggested several minerals and vitamins over the years which have been helpful. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about health alternatives but have not met that many Doctors who readily talk about vitamins with me as remedies. It is refreshing!

Having the right support at the right time is crucial. I wish I had more in the first years we were here. It has been like banging my head against a wall with several organizations around the area. We live in a rural area that has only one small city near it. Otherwise we have to drive, drive, drive. The small city, itself, has had challenges in providing services due to a lack of specialists, therapists etc. It is getting a bit better but there are other issues at play as well. The school itself deals with not having readily available services for their special needs kids. I won’t go into that as it could start me on a rant. Also, I need to write some letters to tell the school board of the inefficiencies before I go on about it here.

For kids with special needs, and especially high functioning children on the ASD spectrum, a good Mental Health support is necessary. Often, when a special need is “invisible” it’s easy to forget the needs the child may have. If I don’t pay attention to our J-man’s specific needs I see the effects spill into all areas of our lives. It’s important for the family’s health to be mindful and aware.

I am thankful that God has been so clear when it seems that we come to the end of our knowledge. He is infinitely knowledgeable and loving. He loves and cares for our “Aspie” in ways we can’t. I am blessed to know that our boy has a relationship with Him. We have seen God answer prayers for healing, help and health by providing us with what we need when we need it. Sometimes we feel like we are floundering around. Even then, His hand is in our lives.

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