I am writing this blog, to explain and validate why PTSD nightmares often don’t end when you wake up.
I am sure there are lots of people, who think that nightmares aren’t that bad right? After all, once you wake up, it’s finished yeah….
Well, that is absolutely not case for many of us.
I have nightmares about severe trauma/abuse and when I am stressed out, emotional, the nightmares always increase.
Nightmares usually result in me waking up, terrified, massive anxiety, often crying, disorientated, and I have to do grounding and breathing techniques, to calm and soothe myself.
(You can find these on my Website @ http://www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/ )
I usually put the light, or the TV on and it will take time before I am calmer and not distressed.
Sometimes they are so bad, I dissociate when I wake up and I really don’t know how long it takes for me to get myself back to state of being able to have self talk and ground etc. The dissociation is like my brain saying ‘this is way too painful’ and switching off.
These severe nightmares, always worsen my other PTSD symptoms the next day too.
I will have the nightmare, replaying in unwanted, involuntary intrusive thoughts/memories, and other unwanted memories coming into my mind throughout the day.
The anxiety, noise sensitivity, irritability, emotion dysregulation, capacity to cope and function- all worsens and my mood will be lowering, or unstable all the next day. I also can tell I have an irrational sense of fear, but only irrational because the nightmare is the past and not happening now…..
But my mind isn’t wired that way…..my PTSD mind acts like it is happening now. And all my physical, emotional and psychological responses to trauma, occur now, as if the trauma is occurring right now.
That’s what PTSD is……..your mind and body reacting to trauma, as if it is happening now.
I will also have emotional flashbacks increasing and my body ‘muscle armoring’ and pain from that all increase, as my body tenses even more than normal, due to anxiety, and also ready and braced for potential trauma…….even though there is none occurring now.
So, all these PTSD symptoms increasing after a nightmare, can last all the next day…..sometimes for days.
And my mood can continue to lower, fluctuating between dissociation – depression – distress and the other severe symptoms of suicidal thoughts, can also start occurring.
I am better at managing this now…….but I can quite categorically state, I cannot stop nightmares occurring……..and nor has the emotional and psychological pain of them lessoned.
The actual nightmares are just as horrendous, as they were 2 years ago. And I accept that, because the reality of the abuse/trauma, isn’t going to change. The abuse was horrendous.
But I have partly learned to manage them & the other symptoms better, and also partly become more used to them happening.
So, please know, if you learn and practise all the PTSD strategies, it can become easier to manage the ongoing affects of PTSD, including after waking up from a nightmare.
It has taken a lot of work and dedication to my healing to manage my symptoms better, but it is so worth it.
I have lots of info on my Website about PTSD – and it is my gift to everyone who may read it.
You can see it @ http://www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
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