It's another night where I'm awake at 4am, because I can't stop having nightmares. I don't know what to do or how to stop it. I'm exhausted and wish my brain would heal. Do you struggle with sleep?

Not at all. I tend to be very logical but I'm also a sensitive person so for myself I understand I feel things pretty intensely but ultimately I can calm myself down by rationalizing things. Kind of curse (intense emotions) but also a gift (very logical but also compassionate).

The first nightmares I had were about my dad after he passed away. They were very intense and terrifying. And it was always that he had faked his death, or left because he was bored of us, and then came back to ruin our lives and eat all our steaks. It happened every night for a few weeks. The first few were terrifying. At some point I realized the dreams would never go away BUT each time I relived the dreams I'd do things slightly differently and reflect on it afterwards. It's just what I did. Eventually I looked forward to it and then I started doing weird shit like fighting back with him, taunting him, or even talking with him (almost on a friend level like you were such a POS to me but you've been thru shit too clearly, I pity you, so I'll be the bigger person so let's chill outside of that context and find some common ground), basically replaying it in various ways and I gained more control and different perspectives on it. The fear subsided. Then the dreams started to fade. They come up occasionally but it's never scary anymore and if he does show up it's in a minor role. I'm always in control now and either he's the scared child now and I see that and take pity, or we're both abused people putting that off to the side to bury the hatchet a little more but he knows his shit doesn't fly anymore).

I still have a lot of nightmares now but in comparison they're more horror movie style to me I guess. Like seeing dead bodies or creepy shit like spiders or w/e. I've done some work with emotionally disturbed people and I lean more towards "reality" stuff I guess. Like it's hard for me to enjoy video games or movies a lot. I find myself on morbid websites sometimes or talking with other people who have been through shit. I like helping people and it makes me feel good, even if it's a toll to my mental health. IMO that's obviously going to affect my dreams since a big part of my life is dealing with real negative shit but trying to make the world a more positive place.

So now when I wake up in a "panic" it feels more like a roller coaster. Like I've done it so many times there isn't that mental fear like I'm going to fall out of seat or the ride is going to collapse. But there's still going to be that physical feeling of stress, the rush, that intensity but I'm used to it and it's kind of fun. And even if it's super intense because I lean more towards the rational it's like "wow that was scary. Oh. I'm awake now. Yup. In my room. K. Heart is always. I'm sweating..let's put the fan on. Ok. Everything's good. Got a great story to share tomorrow. Let's get some water and put on a funny youtube video and go back to sleep cause I'm not staying up all night and being tired tomorrow. Been there, done that, fuck that. And I fucking hope it comes back cause I want a rematch". Like I get kind of pissed if I pussy out in a dream now lol

If you can't control it you just have to accept it. And my fictional nightmares (random sp00ky bullshit) is much less scary than my old nightmares about my dad which I've mostly put behind me. And by conquering my dreams it gave me more confidence in real life, which then gives my dreams less power because they aren't real and real life is. It becomes sort of a feedback loop for me where I always win.

If that sounds confusing then just pretend to be a horror movie fan. And if you're the squeamish type who hates horror movies then find some truly fucked up horror movies and get through them so they aren't so bad anymore and then all the cheesy B flicks seem funny in comparison. Though I highly, HIGHLY advise using caution as I don't want anyone doing anything to risk their mental health. I'm a bit of a risk taker and adrenaline junkie and I don't mind pushing my limits or even being in the situation of having my limits surpassed and trying to figure out how to manage. I've been thrown into the deep end by life quite a few times and learned to wing out and even find the fun in it. You kind of have to when you don't have a choice. And we only live once. Fight, flight, freeze or go with it and see what happens ;).

But again, that's just me. Other people might not feel the same or may have been through worse than me or their trauma is different. But if you're up to it then go for it. Just mentally prepare beforehand, and also accept that it might be more intense than you think and be okay dealing with that unknown and whatever may come with it.

/r/CPTSD Thread Parent