My nightmares have a scale. My husband came up with it to help him figure out how better to help me. One is his worst nightmare and ten is my worst nightmare. There have been a couple of elevens but those are truly left forgotten. The scariest one never seem to be that horrifying when I am dreaming. It is only after I wake up that I experience the terror. The kind where you wake up in a cold sweat and can’t go back to sleep.
My nightmares come in cycles. For a week or so every night I have nightmares. They generally build in awfulness till the reach a level ten and then they lessen off. Then I don’t sleep for a week. I do sleep but only for an hour or two each night. After that it is back to normal. Well as normal as I get when I sleep. I wake up every few hours. Having my husband there with me at night gives me a sense of security. I am not alone.
The nightmares wake me up and then if they are not too bad I can go back to sleep. But usually I need help to take my mind off of the dream. Since there is no way I would get out of bed after a nightmare, I am stuck in the bed afraid to move. I have come up with a plan however. I have a small mp3 player that has a sleep setting. I download books from the library and from Audible. And I listen to them to go back to sleep. The sleep setting shuts its off after a while and if I am not asleep yet I just turn it back on. I listen to it through a pillow speaker under my pillow or with the ear buds. Also under my pillow. This way I don’t bother anyone else. I only listen to things that are not action intense or cause me to commit to the story. (I did that once and was up all night listening to a book.) It works to distract my mind and let me sleep.
Nightmares are the worst. Because I can’t protect myself from them. I can’t foresee that something in my day isn’t going to trigger off a nightmare. The worst one are when I have to protect my children from something. Whether I succeed in the dream of saving them or not, those dreams are always the worst. When you have experienced trauma you always seem to more fodder for the dreams.
I began writing down the nightmares. Sometimes there were things in the dreams that helped me process real life issues. And writing them down also helps to free them from your mind. It is like telling someone. I try not to tell people my nightmares. They tend to be traumatizing to listen to and I don’t want to do that to anyone. By journaling them you have them out in the open and then you can do what ever you like; throw it away, burn it, or keep it. Holding them inside to eat at your heart doesn’t help. That much I have found out on my own.
Nightmares seem to be a part of my life. But I have found ways to get around the paralyzing effects of them. It is all a matter of trial and error. Thus far I seem to be figuring it out.