I typed the title of this post, and then I opened up the archives, thinking maybe I had already written on this topic. The first match was another post, with the very same title! …Oh, it’s the draft of this post.
I did mention it in a post called Day Sadness (written about nine years ago when I had an infant and two toddlers and two elementary school kids, hmm, I wonder if that had anything to do with anything, well it’s all a rich tapestry):
Last night I had Night Sadness (lying awake thinking of sad and oppressive things, and all the ways in which I have failed / am failing / will fail), and usually sleep cures that—-but this morning I woke up with Day Sadness. It feels like I do the same thing day in and day out, and like it’s never going to change, and like I’m never going to handle anything right, and like the world is a bad and stupid place. I know that’s not true, but what I know doesn’t have much to do with it.
And I mentioned it in a post called Accommodations, written about six years ago; William was about ten years old then, and I’d forgotten about this:
William gets Night Sadness: feeling in the evening or around bedtime that everything is too awful and sad and hopeless to be dealt with at all.
I think the second excerpt captures the feeling more accurately. The first excerpt’s “Lying awake thinking of every dumb thing I ever said/did” can be PART of Night Sadness, but it’s not the DEFINING part; the defining part is awful/sad/hopeless/despair/everything.
What separates Night Sadness from other moods is: (1) it happens near bedtime, and (2) the only cure is sleep, and (3) the cure works. It can be brought on by over-tiredness, or it can just happen when normal tiredness breaks down the usual coping mechanisms, but the ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH IT is to go to sleep and wake up the next morning. There is no talking it out, there is no reasoning it out, there is no “have a hot bath and a glass of wine and write in a gratitude journal”-ing it out: just get to sleep. If necessary, using benadryl, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, hard liquor NOT IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER THINGS, etc.
ANYWAY. That post that mentions William having Night Sadness is very encouraging to me, because what I came here to write about is Henry having it. And William had it six years ago, when he was Henry’s age, and I didn’t even REMEMBER that. So that gives me hope for the Henry situation.
Henry has it somewhat more severely, however. A few times recently, he’s gotten such a bad case of Night Sadness, he’s actually thrown up. He gets more and more upset and anxious, and nothing seems to help, and then he throws up and feels better. This seems to me to be crossing the line between “I’m sorry, child, but you’ve inherited your mother’s Night Sadness genes; the jury is still out on whether you’ve got her unreliable ankles” and “Let’s call the pediatrician.” But I haven’t called the pediatrician. Because I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very reluctant to get any kid into the system of Mental Issues, and particularly when pre-existing conditions are such a current and applicable topic. But of course I don’t want to put something off that should be dealt with, or let him suffer with something he doesn’t have to suffer with. On the other hand, it’s not happening often. And William outgrew it.
For my own treatment, the essential piece is recognizing the particular mood as Night Sadness. This does not work with most mental issues (like when my therapist thought that if I REALIZED my anxieties were irrational, those anxieties would MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR!) (no, I ALREADY REALIZE they’re irrational, Genius, which is WHY I AM HERE), but it does help me somewhat with night sadness: I think “Nope. I recognize this. This is Night Sadness,” and I can get benadryl or a tranquilizer or a swift double shot of vodka on board and be asleep while still noping. So my natural inclination is to get Henry to be able to use a similar coping mechanism. I am worried that if I instead consult the doctor, Henry will get put on a daily medication that is not as safe as an occasional benadryl. I am worried there will be Referrals, and Diagnoses, and a suggestion that he See Someone once a week, when really what he needs is some occasional help getting to sleep for the next year(s) while he outgrows it as William has, or learns to handle it as I have. But so far, my method is not working on Henry. It is hard to decide how long to wait.