I'm 22 years old and I have never slept in a bedroom by myself. I’m terrified to death of the dark and even if I could make peace with the dark, I couldn’t bear to sleep by myself. I will turn 23 soon and it has taken me a long time to admit that I have a problem. I’m in tears writing this because I feel desperate and hopeless and, most of all, ashamed – I’m an adult and I sleep with my mom. I used to share a room with my sister, then she got married and I started sleeping on the floor of my parents’ bedroom. Years passed and I started getting scared of sleeping on the floor. My father sleeps in the living room now and I sleep with my mom. I do not know anyone who is experiencing this problem. I know it is strange, unusual, immature and abnormal. I need help. What do I do? How will I ever live by myself? Why does even the slightest sound fear me in the night? Why can’t I stop imagining scary stuff and freak myself out? Please help me fix this problem.

Sleep anxiety that is particularly related to the fear of being alone at night starts from separation anxiety in early childhood. Anxious children and later on adults, prefer to sleep with parents or a caregiver either in the same room or preferably in the same bed. It is a habit which you have to unlearn gradually. You can try exposure therapy with a counsellor who may gradually expose you to your fear while treating your anxiety and fear. You can try sleeping alone in a space close to your parents’ room. Connecting them on phone before sleeping may also help. It will take you a few difficult nights in the beginning to eventually get used to sleeping on your own.

I am a 34-year-old married woman living with social anxiety. I never go out and only spend time with my husband. But there are times when my husband tells me to go out with him for an official gathering and meet his friends and their wives and just the thought of it makes me anxious. It’s like I am physically unable to talk to people. I get shaky, my heart beats rapidly, I turn bright red, and I am at a loss for words. I wish so badly to make friends and I tell myself I am amazing and people will like me, but when I get into a social situation I can’t help but think negatively. Please help me curb my social anxiety. I really want to be good at socialising especially with my husband’s friends as I really don’t want to embarrass him more.

Social anxiety is a common problem with many people and can be dealt with following some steps. First of all, you can start by facing your fear. Challenge yourself slowly to start meeting people in small groups. Take focus off yourself whenever you are in a social setting. Talk back to negative thoughts that stop you from meeting people. Start building your self esteem by jotting down your strong points and repeat them often to yourself. Lastly, you can be vocal about your social anxiety and share it with your husband and friends. It will make you

feel better. •