Concerns over the sleepless nights

I generally don’t receive early morning phone calls from clients unless they are experiencing struggles. Usually, they wait for daytime. This one particular day a call came in at 6:30 a.m. A woman’s voice asked for me. An early riser, I was able to answer the call. The woman was surprised that I answered. She was getting ready to leave me a voice message. She apologized for the early morning call. She, too, was an early riser. She explained that the call was important and that she had little time in her long work day.

I asked her how she had my name. She replied, “My family doctor gave me three names. You were number three. I want to make an appointment soon.” Given her tight work schedule, we agreed to meet the next day at 7 a.m. We’d meet for an hour, then she’d go to work. She introduced herself as Esmerelda Santana. Sometimes, a telephone voice can offer some insight into an individual’s emotional state. This call didn’t offer me much. I looked ahead to the next day’s session.

The next morning I drove to my office and arrived around 6:15 a.m. The bright sun shining day was upon us. Summer light in abundance sometimes picks up people’s spirits. Esmerelda arrived promptly at 7 a.m. First impression spoke of a 20-something woman, slender, with lengthy dark hair in a ponytail. She wore casual jeans, a cotton blouse and sandals. She wore no make-up. I learned that she was 28, single, and with no children. She resided on a family farm that grew wine grapes. She went to college in California majoring in viticulture. She completed her degree and worked on her family farm in northern California. The business was owned by her parents and run successfully with her two older brothers. Her expertise contributed to a growing, hearty business.

The success of her business reaped not only financial rewards, but also a confidence booster. Her parents wanted to try a new business venture and relocate. They came across some interesting information from a dear friend who was traveling in our region. He heard about a vineyard that was for sale. Apparently, this is a rarity in their world. Fast forward. Months of negotiation with a soon-to-be-retired couple, they purchased the farm. Simultaneously, they negotiated a deal with the two brothers, who purchased the successful business. Mom and dad offered Esmerelda the management position of the new venture. She was open to relocation. This was two years ago.

The business was running efficiently. Learning Eastern versus Western grape culture had its sticky moments, yet went well overall. She had many responsibilities, including hiring of workers for the vineyard. Between her parents and their experience, they found and trained a crew. Many were of Mexican descent, which bode well given her bilingual proclivities. Others were from other cultured backgrounds.

Once I gathered this initial information, I asked Esmerelda what brought her to call me. “Sleep, I sleep poorly. I toss and turn.” I asked her when this started, how long she had endured this problem and how did it affect her mentally, physically and emotionally.

Lastly, she offhandedly mentioned about her attitude toward counseling and therapy. She’d been a healthy person up to now. She runs five miles a day. She has a healthy appetite. Her sleep problems began five months ago. She went to her primary care physician only because her parents were worried. They are close and she openly shared her problem. She reluctantly saw a woman physician who suggested medications and possibly therapy. Some unspecified anxiety was noted by the physician. She tried the sleeping medicine, which made her groggy during the day. She saw a therapist who supported the medication regimen. She disliked the feeling from the medicine and stopped it. She stopped with the therapist and saw a second who, too, pushed medication. I was the third name on the list. She had to leave. She agreed to come the next morning early.

More in the next article.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email