Ask the Therapist: ‘I wake up at night with my heart racing’
CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is an approach in psychology that might be useful in this situation
I have been waking up in the middle of the night with my heart racing. I also have high levels of anxiety during the day. I’m pretty sure I know why. I’ve fallen out with a close family member and we’ve not spoken in six months, even though we live in the same house. I don’t think there’s any chance for reconciliation, but I also need peace. How can I move forward? — Nandini
Dear Nandini, I am sorry to hear about your anxiety and interrupted sleep. Being in an anxious and sleep-deprived state is difficult and can interfere with performing your daily responsibilities.
You should not rule out the possibility of reconciliation between you and your family member. The two of you might be able to overcome the reasons for your conflict, but it will require effort on both your parts. When people wind up at such an impasse, I suggest that you find a neutral person — if necessary, a counsellor — to be able to talk things through. Since I don’t know the nature of the falling out, it’s difficult to offer specific advice. However, I can say with certainty that silence between you and your family member will prevent you from ever overcoming the conflict. I suggest that both of you use positive communication to address the issue(s), take responsibility for your role in the conflict, possibly accept to respectfully disagree on some aspects of each other’s viewpoints and, very importantly, practise forgiveness.
You have identified this conflict as the cause of your anxiety. I sincerely hope that you will be able to reconcile and work to improve the relationship. If not, you need to consider how you can change the situation, possibly one of you leaves the family home (if this is permissible and financially viable). CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is an approach in psychology that might be useful for your situation. The crux of this approach is that if you can change how you think about things, it will change how you feel and behave. If you can reframe the conflict in your mind, you might be able to be at peace with it, and then it will be easier to be in the home with your silent family member.
To reduce your anxiety, I suggest you take time to exercise, listen to guided meditations, and do breathing exercises. My favourite free application is Calmer by Beltone.
(Dr Annette is integrated psychotherapist at CHMC, Dubai. Got a query? Email us on email@example.com)