Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stress & Anxiety: My unwanted companions

On this blog, I usually talk about my fiction writing. Today I thought I’d post about why I co-wrote the book Be Still: Stress and Anxiety Management for Latter-day Saints. Even if you’re not a Mormon, you may find a little of yourself in my story.

While going to school for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I had an exaggerated sense of my competence. I thought that with an all-night cram session, I could get through anything with flying colors. But marriage, motherhood, and real life changed all that.

I remember the exact moment I realized I had a problem. I was a pregnant mother of a toddler, teaching part-time at a local university and writing freelance on the side. I was very active in my local community and did quite a bit of volunteer work at church. None of this was a problem.

Then one night, after taking some cold medication, I couldn’t fall asleep until the early morning hours. I was jittery, sweaty, and felt nervous. When I woke up an hour or two later I figured I had had a strange reaction to the medication, and I plowed through the day as usual.

A few weeks later, I had the same experience, this time after taking no medication at all. It just happened. Again I couldn’t fall asleep until the early morning hours. But this time I thought about it all the next day, and that night I felt nervous about going to bed. I kept telling myself, “You’ve always slept great before; you are so busy during the day you’ll probably just collapse; everything is fine.”

But I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t fall asleep all night. Instead, I stayed up all night trying to figure out why in my perfect world I had created I couldn’t do something as simple as sleep.

That thought haunted me throughout the next several sleepless nights. I finally admitted to myself that something was wrong. However, certainly this was something modern medicine could fix the next day at a visit to the doctor. The doctor prescribed some sleeping pills. I came home pleased that the solution had been so simple... that was until the pills didn’t work. I still didn’t sleep.

So, I went back to the doctor. He told me I was stressed and had anxiety and should relax. But I couldn’t figure out how. A few more sleepless nights and I was completely defeated. I decided that not only was I not perfect, I was the biggest failure in the world.

My thoughts of failure persisted for quite a while. It took me years to discover that my battle had everything to do with a false aspiration of perfectionism and very little to do with sleep.

Co-authoring a self-help book on better managing stress and anxiety with psychologist Victoria Anderson was one of the best things I ever did. But here’s my confession as an author: Even though I wrote a book about it, that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it. My unwanted companions still rear their ugly heads in my life from time to time. When they do, the good news is I have a great book to read. :)

P.S. Currently, Be Still is available as an e-book. The paperback version is out of print; however, you can get it from other resellers, but they have jacked the price way up. For those interested, I'm preparing a new paperback version. It should be ready for sale in May of 2012.


  1. Congrats on the book, Lois!

    I've had sleepless nights and couldn't figure out what the deal was. I just chalked it up to hormones. Now I'm wondering.

    Great post! And the best of luck with your book.

  2. I have NO idea what stress is... (=

  3. Thanks for stopping by my site www.ericahenry.com . I too have anxiety and it stinks. I will be checking out your book.

  4. Hi Lois, thanks for dropping by - congratulations on your book & seems like too many suffer from stress these days. Me, I don't stress & nothing keeps me awake. The way I see it is this: If no-one's dead & no one's dying, there's jack spratt to worry about.

  5. Hey tagged you in a book tag of mine, if you want to participate then head over to my blog, http://theperfectherald.blogspot.com/ if you don't want to take part in it thats of okay, no hard feelings.


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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.