I’ve had it since I could remember even though I wished and prayed every single day it would go away. Some days the nightmares aren’t so intense, but some days they make me so afraid to go to bed at night. There were nights where I hoped this certain nightmare that had been repeatedly interrupting my sleep would not appear again, but there were also nights where I hoped it would as I didn’t want something far more haunting to scar me even more where it could affect my daily life. Living with the constant fear that any type of nightmare can come at you and literally destroy you not only when you are asleep but when you are awake is truly terrifying.
As a child, many nightmares were reoccurring and were the kind where I could remember vividly how everything had looked all the way down to how I was feeling and how all my senes were heightened. There are a few that I can still remember up until now that always replayed as my top nightmares when I was younger, but now many of the nightmares that formulate in my head when I am asleep seems foreign to me and do not really duplicate. A portion of them is lying under the same themes, but they aren’t exactly the same as to how it was for me when I was younger, but they share the same mutual feelings of how horrifying, incapable and helpless I had felt. Majority of the nightmares all fed to these emotions which led to how I reacted to situations that happened in real life, and my perspective of life itself.
I know, I know. I sound dramatic. At times I think my mind can be dramatic too, especially when such nightmares can stir up in my head and turn the people who are closest to me to my enemies in my sleep. Of course, I wouldn’t treat them any different just because of what goes on during my sleep, but it sure does makes me feel on edge whenever I am with them if I have yet to warm up yet upon meeting them. Well, that was just one of the effects of living with nightmares after nightmares every single night.
After being diagnosed by a clinical psychologist that I suffer from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I truly didn’t know how to feel about it. Part of me didn’t want to believe it, because my nightmares and night terrors and sleepwalking has been there since my childhood, so it’s odd for it to be a symptom for a diagnosis. Nevertheless, I do see certain collisions between what she has explained to me and the questions she asked if I had been experiencing any particular disturbances which all lined up to build that diagnosis. As I am still in the midst of coming to terms with it, I am also still trying to manage my concerns that comes with PTSD and how it worsens my rest times. Little by little, I try to remind myself.
Other than my nightmares trying to turn me against the people who I love against me, it has caused insomnia when I was around 11 years old. Well, I guess part of me was afraid to go to bed, but for the most part I just couldn’t shut my mind and thoughts off. Even when I did, I kept dozing off just for w little while, only to be waken up so easily after a few minutes, and if I am lucky, after an hour. Expectedly, I only had few hours of sleep maybe 1 or 2 hours if I am lucky, and it did affect my mood throughout school days as I just felt very out of place. Accompanied by the aching migraines pressing on my temples and the back of my head, day by day went by and I just felt very defeated and hopeless because the nightmares kept disrupting my sleep patterns and made me lost between everything in my head.
Often, from my knowledge, I have heard that individuals who suffer from PTSD nightmares, often replay the traumatic event that they had witnessed or took part in. In contrast to that, my personal take was that my nightmares mostly were a different set of situations that somehow interconnected with the different traumatic events I had been through. There were and are still times where the exact scene with images and colours and sounds of the whole event that had went down coming back to life in my nightmares or in flashbacks when there are triggering senses around me, but it wasn’t always the case. It all seemed as though my body and mind are trying to attack me, making me my own villain. As though it served as a constant reminder that something happened. It happened.
Meanwhile, as I have mentioned above, the trauma of reliving these nightmares causes me to dread or fear sleep. The avoidance of sleep with an inefficient sleep cycle causes me to become irritable easily and inability to focus well which affects my family, professional and social life. The worse part of it all for me is that the triggers and disturbances can persist decades after the trauma originally occurred. This makes me sort of worry about what is to come in the future all because of this unhealthy memory processing and sleep pattern of mine.
To sum up whatever that has been written, I haven’t had a well-rested sleep in so long. Surely, I have been longing for that up until right now as I am typing away in this sentence. Where I can just wake up in bed and not have any thoughts and worries about the day I have to be prepared for or from the terrors that stir in my mind trying to attack me while I run for my dear life. In spite of that, I do believe that with continuous remedies like therapy and reflection and reprocessing of my traumatic experiences, I would be able to navigate a pathway to a better sleeping habit. Hopefully, if any of you reading this blog post now relate to whatever I have said here, you would get in touch with the most suitable way towards a healthier sleeping habit too.
Submitted by: Natalie C.