My daughter is afraid of "The Swirls" - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-02-2012, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since my daughter was very young, she has had a hard time falling asleep because she is afraid of "The Swirls." I'm not sure what this is or how to handle it, so I'll try to describe it as best I can.

 

When she was around two and became verbal, she began saying that she didn't want to close her eyes at night to go to sleep because she was scared of "The Drains." I didn't understand what she was talking about. She has never had any fear of the bathtub drain. When she turned three, she could describe it a little more. "They go around and around and I don't like them. I'm scared of the drains, mama!" Now that she is four, she calls them "The Swirls."

 

For the longest time, I have been ignoring it (this may have been a bad idea, but I really have not been able to figure out how to deal with this). She would complain about it every few weeks or so and I would just say "it's normal, honey. Those are just colors you see when you close your eyes." I even tried ignoring her thinking she just wanted attention.

 

She is four now and is still scared of whatever they are. She says she sees them whenever she closes her eyes and they frighten her. I'm paying attention now. She does not fight bedtime, she is happy to go to bed every night, and when she talks about them, she seems genuinely serious about them. Some nights, she asks if she can stay awake all night if she promises to stay in bed. Sometimes she will ask me if I will let her sleep with her eyes open so she doesn't have to see them. Often, she will cry because she is scared of them.

 

We cosleep. I have never left my daughter. She fears absolutely nothing, not monsters or people or dogs or even the dark. She loves the  night. She has never seen anything scary. We don't have TV in our house. There is nothing physically wrong with her. I just took her to the doctor. This is the only fear she has ever had.

 

I think I'm going to have a long talk with her about them tonight, but I'm not sure if, at four, she is able to describe it to me. I'm worried about playing up her fears of this thing I don't understand and making it worse. Monsters I can deal with. Things I can see and understand, I can deal with. How do I deal with something I can't even understand?

 

What would you do?


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Old 05-02-2012, 10:43 PM
 
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Could it be something like vertigo when she closes her eyes?  Does she feel off-balance when she is experiencing this?

 

Or could it be that when she's falling asleep, she has that sensation of falling?


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Old 05-02-2012, 10:44 PM
 
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Does she see them right when she first closes her eyes, and has she just been in a brighter space (or just had a lamp or light turned off?). I wonder if she's seeing the kind of thing one sees after looking at a light then being in the dark. If so,maybe you can smooth her transition and eliminate the swirls. IE, eyes open in a very dim room with mama near by, then eyes closed in a darker room.

Tough situation. Could she draw you a picture of it, both to help you better understand, and her to talk through it?

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Old 05-03-2012, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, yeah, it could totally be a vertigo thing! I never thought of that. She's not dizzy when she's awake, but maybe she feels that way as she's falling asleep. I'll ask her how it feels when it happens.

 

No, she doesn't see bright lights before bed. We have a very dim stained glass lamp next to the bed that I turn on at bedtime. I read her a book by its light and it's just barely bright enough to read by. Then she falls asleep as I'm reading to myself with the lamp still on. It's not bright and it isn't even in her line of sight at all.

 

I'll also have her draw a picture of it tonight.


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Old 05-03-2012, 05:05 AM
 
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I don't know what your 'belief' system is, but I have always felt 'the swirls' ever since I can remember, and now as an adult I know it is linked to the first chakra, which 'spins'. I feel it when I meditate or drift off to sleep. I initially felt uncomfortable meditating because I would 'swirl' and thought it was crazy of me to feel dizzy while sitting compeltely still! And yet....it's a wonderful thing.

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Old 05-03-2012, 06:37 AM
 
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I've experienced something that could be described as "the swirls" off and on.  It can definitely be a bit unsettling.  For me, listening to music or audiobooks helps distract from it.  I think it might be sort of a low-level migraine type thing in my case....maybe.  Does it correlate with anything that might be migraine-inducing for your daughter? (like any particular foods, weather patterns, etc...)
 

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Old 05-03-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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I've also experienced something I would describe as "swirling," usually while meditating but sometimes also just while lying in bed with my eyes closed. I think it has something to do with the position of my eyes as they roll back in my head (?) or maybe chakras, as alon_abroad said, although I know very little about chakras. It can definitely be unsettling, but it can also be a cool feeling if I give in to it. Maybe you could help your daughter learn to see it as a fun thing--like a merry go round?

 

Also, as a child, I often had the sensation that the end of a huge Q-tip was headed straight for my face. I know that sounds totally insane, but it's the best way I can find to describe what I was feeling. It would happen when I was falling asleep at night and I had no control over it, other than to keep my eyes open. It was scary and unsettling--but I never told anyone about it because it was so strange. It hasn't happened for years and I have no idea what it was related to, but I thought it might help knowing that there are other people with weird feeling issues!

 

All that being said, I might also take your daughter into the doctor to make sure her inner ear is ok. Often dizziness and vertigo can be caused by inner ear damage, although it's probably not something to worry about since she doesn't experience it during the day. Just another mystery of our complex bodies!


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Old 05-03-2012, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know if it coincides with anything that would cause migraines, but that's a good idea. So is the chakra thing. I'm not spiritual in that sense, but just because I don't believe something doesn't make it not true. I try to be pretty open-minded.

 

Last night, I talked to her about it. She drew me a picture of blue spirals. A regular spiral, like a coiled rope. She said that they are blue and that there are lots of them all over, not just one. She said she doesn't "feel anything at all" when she sees them but that they bother her eyes and she can't sleep because they annoy her. She said that they spin around and around really fast.

 

I see colors and shapes when I close my eyes. I wonder if this is all she is seeing when she closes her eyes. My husband says he sees TV snow when he closes his eyes, so maybe it's different for everyone and this is just what she sees. It also sounds like it could possibly be a migraine thing, but she sees them every night. I just asked her if she closed her eyes right now if she would see them and she said yes.


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Old 05-03-2012, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! It's good to know other people experience weird things. I did just take her to the doctor to have her ears and everything else checked. They said she's the healthiest 4yo on the planet. thumb.gif

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Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post

I've also experienced something I would describe as "swirling," usually while meditating but sometimes also just while lying in bed with my eyes closed. I think it has something to do with the position of my eyes as they roll back in my head (?) or maybe chakras, as alon_abroad said, although I know very little about chakras. It can definitely be unsettling, but it can also be a cool feeling if I give in to it. Maybe you could help your daughter learn to see it as a fun thing--like a merry go round?

 

Also, as a child, I often had the sensation that the end of a huge Q-tip was headed straight for my face. I know that sounds totally insane, but it's the best way I can find to describe what I was feeling. It would happen when I was falling asleep at night and I had no control over it, other than to keep my eyes open. It was scary and unsettling--but I never told anyone about it because it was so strange. It hasn't happened for years and I have no idea what it was related to, but I thought it might help knowing that there are other people with weird feeling issues!

 

All that being said, I might also take your daughter into the doctor to make sure her inner ear is ok. Often dizziness and vertigo can be caused by inner ear damage, although it's probably not something to worry about since she doesn't experience it during the day. Just another mystery of our complex bodies!


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Old 05-03-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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why is she afraid of them? i'd start w/ that question...

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Old 05-03-2012, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She says that they bother her, as in, they annoy her. She doesn't want to see them because they are annoying. I'm assuming she means the swirling colors are distracting when she's tired. Maybe she's oversensitive to them when she's sleepy?


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Old 05-03-2012, 07:31 PM
 
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I'm wondering if its some sort of entopic phenomena (basically seeing things present in the eye itself). I have really bad floaters and pineapple rings as I called them when I was little. Some entopic phenomenas show up as blue stringy things.


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Old 05-04-2012, 02:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, maybe! I looked all over online and my searches came up with nothing.


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Old 05-04-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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There are some pictures on this site of blue swirls.http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e42285/e42442/e54887/index_en.html  They appear to me more noticeable outside but maybe you could show her the pictures and see what she thinks. The last picture really looks like swirls too me, but this is not my particular problem so I dont know.


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Old 09-04-2013, 09:18 PM
 
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I think I know just what your daughter is talking about.  I joined this forum just to respond to your post.  I'm an older woman, but I experienced this same thing when I was a child.  My mom would say, "Are you sure you weren't having a dream?"  It made me so frustrated.  I was scared of the swirling colors because they took up my entire visual field and gave me the same feeling as if someone were to put a bag over your head so you couldn't see anything in your environment.

 

This always happened when lights were turned out at night.  They were swirling solid colors.  My mom finally believed me and took me to a doctor.  Whether it's accurate or not, he explained that it had something to do with the development of the color cones in the eyes.  He suggested that we put a night light in my bedroom.  Anytime I started to see the lights I would open my eyes and look at the night light.  This seemed to help the images dissipate, and I was much less anxious.

 

As I got older it pretty much went away, but now decades later I've had some health problems and was researching the phenomenon because they are occurring again, though not as intensely as when I was a child.  The closest description I can find online is the definition for "Closed-Eye Hallucination" as described on Wikipedia.  What I saw was very similar to the animation they show on that page labeled "Level 3" except that mine had multiple colors going in all directions.  Check out the animation and it may help you to understand what she is seeing.

 

Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_eye_hallucinations    

 

Hope this helps.

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Old 09-05-2013, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much! My daughter actually grew out of it some time ago, but this is very interesting!

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Old 09-24-2013, 07:06 PM
 
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i used to experience something a lot like this and i've always had a hard time describing it.  for me, it was like this giant mechanism, with gears and belts all spinning and pulling some entity (sorta me, sorta not me) inward to it.  it had an overwhelming and inevitable feeling about it.  i was terrified of it, in theory.  however, it didn't happen when i was wide awake.  it happened (i am making my best guess here) during that weird semi-lucid period between being awake and asleep, b/c it seemed like the visual environment of the room would morph into it.  and it was all-encompassing and scary but not something i was aware of actively trying to escape either.  it still gives me the heebie jeebies talking about it!  glad to hear she outgrew them, but don't be surprised if she still, like me, remembers them in her thirties. so when i say it was terrifying, i mean that the memory of it was one that overwhelmed and terrified me.  b/c i wasn't necessarily even conscious of a self when this imagery would overtake my thinking and visual field.

 

and, i'm not sure how the most polite way to say this is, except to say that i don't agree with the hippie/chakra type stuff suggested earlier in this thread.  so make sure you don't put my account in the same category.  i believe there are perfectly natural phenomena that can explain this, akin to how people often struggle and panic when they start to go under anesthesia, and how lucid dreaming works, and how "near-death experiences" (some scientists now classify them as actual death experiences) have very unique traits that are described by many people who experience them.  the brain just seems to do things that are very different in the not-awake, not-conscious, not-aware-of-self state than it does in our day-to-day lives and that makes it very hard to explain and describe and can therefore (or so i believe) be very unsettling.  or probably to some people simply very fascinating.  but i don't think that means that it entails any elements of mysticism or supernatural or anything like that.  (to be perfectly fair, it might.  i am just not one of those people who believes in that kind of stuff, so i was trying to be clear that i was someone who could verify a similar experience, but still sees the world through a more scientific/empiricist lens.)


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Old 09-24-2013, 07:16 PM
 
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Sounds like the light afterimages I would notice and my oldest son used to notice. That or random images at the edge of a dream.

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