There are many who don’t wish to sleep for fear of nightmares. Sadly, there are many who don’t wish to wake for the same fear.
We’ve all had nightmares from time to time. Most of us wake up a little shaken but we brush them off and try our hardest to forget about them. But some of us can’t shake them off. Some of us live with recurring nightmares that are highly realistic and, to put it bluntly, really f*ck with our head. Having to deal with nightmares on a regular basis is tough, but what’s tougher is when the nightmares become so realistic and vivid that you struggle to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. The nightmares have become so realistic for me that sometimes I get my memories mixed up with them, thinking I’ve lived things for real that I actually haven’t, and it can make me become highly confused.
I used to love sleep, it used to be one of my favourite things. But now I’ve started getting fearful of sleep. I keep myself awake as much as I can so that I don’t have to experience yet another nightmare. I drink coffee way into the night so that I don’t have to deal with the nightmares. I’ll be feeling super tired, but I’ll force myself to stay awake for longer so that I can avoid sleep – and this doesn’t help on day’s when I have class, as when I do finally fall asleep it takes me ages to wake up and I’ll often miss class because of it.
The nightmares I have often wouldn’t seem that scary to some people, but they’re so psychologically relevant to what my fears are that they leave me waking up shaky and they sometimes give me panic attacks. My panic attacks are usually whilst I’m in bed trying to sleep or waking up in the midst of one, and that’s when you truly feel out of control of your panic attacks – because it feels like they’re not being triggered by much in particular so you feel stupid. You feel as though your body is working against you. But I’ve since realised the trigger for my panic attacks, it’s the thought of going to sleep and having another nightmare. I’ll be laying there trying to distract my thoughts, but my mind knows it may experience the psychological horror again and so it fights back against it. It’s my fight or flight response kicking in, and it’s doing me no favours.
I typically have nightmares about things that I’m genuinely terrified of happening. They’re triggered by my paranoia of the unknown, and my nightmares often try to fill in gaps of my memory or gaps of my reasoning. I live with Borderline Personality Disorder and I often only see things as black or white, and when I don’t fully understand something my mind will often try to make up the explanation for me – and that can often come in the form of a nightmare. And this is why I’m starting to struggle to differentiate between the horror of what happens in my sleep state and what’s happened for real. I often tell people I’ve forgotten something and ask for them to remind me, but it’s not that I’ve always genuinely forgotten what’s happened but that the memory has become mixed up with a nightmare and I need help to clear them apart so I don’t become confused and upset.
To finish this post off, living with recurring nightmares is a bit of a bitch. It drains my energy sometimes and it triggers my anxiety and panic attacks. But I’m finding ways of dealing with it and hopefully this won’t be forever.