Dreams and nightmares, you know, that successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur usually involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. That is what I’m going to talk about today, mainly because I forgot to take my meds last night and I was lucky enough to have a doozy of a nightmare. Several that I remember actually, but only one that stopped me from going back to sleep. (For the purposes of this post, dream = good, nightmares = bad.)
For years now, I have nightmares that both would prevent me from falling asleep for free that I would have one and prevent me from falling back asleep because of how my body reacted to the nightmare. Nightmares themselves are actually one of the 17 symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (If you are curious what the other 16 are, visit this link.) Nightmares, night terrors, whatever you actually choose to call them, they suck big time. I don’t always wake up from my nightmares, nor do I actually remember every one of them. I would know I have a rough night by how I felt in the morning and in some cases (with my current bed especially,) my movement and physical reactions to my nightmare would leave my bed covered in sweat and my bed in the middle of my bedroom. I’m not talking about moving my bed a few inches, I’m talking a few feet. That is a prime example of how the cause my body to physically react even when I’m asleep.
I have been awake since 2 am this morning, give or take a few minutes. Asleep one second, wide the fuck awake the next. Sweating, breathing like I just ran a marathon, hyper alert, waking up like this is horrible. I have to actually remind myself where I am and how what just felt real to me was in fact just a nightmare. A nightmare that I have lived before and I’m sure I will live again. One so real that if I didn’t wake up in a completely different location than in which the dream occurred, I doubt I would be able to convince myself that it was not real. That is how vivid they are. As real as the world in front of my right now. I can never tell the difference until after. These are the things that make it difficult.
I consider myself lucky because I haven’t really had a problem of daytime flashbacks. I have had them, I have had many a day plagued by intrusive memories but never to the point where I could not function. I know some of my fellow veterans have those issues and that is why I consider misled lucky not to really have that problem. Nights though, those have been miserable. The combination of medications that the VA has me on seems to work a good 85% of the time. I’m sure if I asked to increase the dosage they might go away completely, but I take to many pills as it is.
On days after nightmares I often find myself feeling isolated and I have difficulty focusing and concentrating. Today was no exception; but actually having a good job to keep me engaged actually made today easier. I still had to work at what I was doing to keep myself in task. Working with the group of guys I work with also made it much easier. My day isn’t easier and I still have to survive this train ride home. Right now the close proximity to people is making me want to ride on the roof of the train car or even get out and walk the rest of the way home.
Hopefully tonight will be a better night.