Tag Archives: paranoia

Marathon Nightmares

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I hate my detailed nightmares. I also occasionally have detailed dreams that aren’t nightmares, which a few of my friends have expressed that they’re a little jealous of, but of course none of them would trade for nightmares.

I stayed up rather late tonight talking to an old friend, which was extremely helpful. I had been afraid to go to bed because of the nightmares that I had last night. I have heard this common sentiment expressed by lots of other people with PTSD. My other big blessing today was that I got to go for a walk with a friend and tell her some of the irrational fears and thoughts (or at least the biggest and most important one) that I’ve been dealing with during my depression of the past couple weeks. No amount of DBT and “mapping” was making this one go away. I was also feeling that “fierce independence” one gets when they have to keep asking for help from others and I was determined to solve it on my own. Finally, I called and said, “Can we go somewhere? Or just talk?” Within an hour of telling her (and feeling stupid about my stupid thoughts) I had that feeling of a huge weight coming off. I also realized that these stupid thoughts I was having about someone I was frustrated with were gone. (Of importance: the listening friend had nothing to do with this frustration.) We then went to Target and enjoyed the freedom of looking at our favorite Star Wars toy (a mini/baby Chewbacca that makes noise and is extremely cute) and office supplies (I like them, I do not know why) without having to buy anything, and the disappointment with the lack of a lack of Valentine’s Day tees. Target, you’re slacking in the area of holiday tees when you used to be good at it. Just so ‘ya know.

Well back to the nightmares. I also got to tell this friend some of what’s been in them the past two days. They involved a lot of symbols of betrayal. That realization gives me more things to write on and work out emotionally. One thing in particular that I’ve never shared, or maybe fleetingly shared maybe once (previous to this blog)…. Is that in my dreams when I’ve been feeling my worst in my waking life, I often have difficulties seeing. More often than that, I can’t get up and move around and everyone is expecting me to. In fact, one person in particular (when they’re in my dream) wants me to hurry up and get moving and things are impossible for me to complete. Last night I was in the line to get on an airplane and show my I.D. I was travelling with a choir that wanted me there to help translate French and drive people around. (Dreams don’t make sense, right? Yup.) The only part I’ll get into was that I had gotten so tired out running around doing things for this choir, and before that at another event, that I was hungry and exhausted and finally couldn’t stand or sit. I was crawling forward in the line, prostrate on the ground. The helpful person who had been pushing me in a wheelchair had to leave and was assuming that my friend behind me in line would keep pushing me to the front. I kept crawling forward. Finally, this person stopped talking to someone else and said (pretty innocently), “Did you want me to help you?” I yelled back something like “Um, that would be nice!” as loud as I could. This person seemed taken aback that I was upset.

Of course, it didn’t stop at that, or it wouldn’t have been part of a “marathon nightmare.” The seats on the plane were like stadium seats, and most of them weren’t bolted in. A few of us found some that were. I left my purse at my seat and then went to the restroom and to get some snacks. I came back and the seats where we had been were all folded up with a sign “out of commission” but I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me where my purse had gone. That whole part of that dream was chock full, almost every detail, of things that had gone wrong. We were supposed to land at LAX (Los Angeles) where I had a ride home and a ride back to Utah, instead we landed in Las Vegas.Nothing wrong with Las Vegas, there were just other details in the dream that made the good aspects of these things not work out.
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I suppose I should add some more humor here. My parents met me at the airport and we all took turns pushing each other around in the wheelchair, depending on who was tired. We went to McDonald’s to eat because the buffets were closed. But, this was a special McDonald’s. Nothing was gluten free. There were all kinds of yummy ice creams, ice cream in crepes, pretzel hot dogs, pretzel hamburger buns, but no way to eat a hamburger without a bun like I need. I glimpsed some celery in a drawer and got excited until the worker showed me that the celery was coated in a baked on pretzel bun. So I bought a hot dog, but the hot dog was tiny and the bun was huge, so I was still starving.hot-dog-21074_640

Having the ability to actually tell some of the things I dream about has helped. It’s as if it no longer has as much power over me. I have no desire to ever have to talk about it much more, but if it helps people understand me and especially what others go through who have constant nightmares, then bring it on. For now. I still don’t want to do it often.

That was only a very small part of my nightmares last night. Because they were so vivid last night (and long) I had a feeling that there were things I wasn’t dealing with, so I tried to write it all out in my journal this morning. It was pages long. But getting to talk with two close friends today, and having the ability to work on these things in better ways than I used to be able to (with more tools available) has made them more useful rather than just always troubling. And it helps me see where I can be less trouble, as I face the fears in front of me rather than just deep down in my psyche. (If I’m using that word correctly.)

And maybe tonight I can dream about cute, small, fluffy caterpillars, and baby Chewbaccas that were so ingeniously made with just the perfect cute noises. I am an adult who appreciates creativity in toys, what can I say. Plus, who doesn’t turn into a little kid sometimes after bad dreams? (Ironic warning: this Chewbacca toy is missing its eyes and nose.)

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You mean I’m not okay? Self awareness…

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Today was one of those days. I really needed to mail a package to my daughter. I thought, “If I just get dressed and get going, I should be okay, right? Then I’ll be so happy that I got this done.” So I got ready and got on the bus with my package, got off at the right stop, and made it to the Post Office. The weather was nice for this time of year. I really wasn’t doing so well, though. I’m still not 100% sure what’s bothering me, though. I thought I was doing okay. I don’t know how we people with anxiety (or depression) manage to convince ourselves that we’re all right when we’re not. For me, it usually comes after a day when people who aren’t around me and aware (or sometimes who are, but not usually) are wondering when I’m going to get something done.

So the man at the post office is helping me out, and the first thing he says to me is: “Are you okay!?” “Um, yeah.”
A minute later: “Are you sure you’re okay, because you’re really worrying me. Are you really okay?”
Me (embarrassed, there’s a line behind me): *sigh* “Yes, I have an anxiety disorder. I’ll be all right.”
Then as I leave, he says, “You take care, okay?”

So, I decide that I’ll feel better after I eat something. I get my food and sit down and check for a phone call I’m waiting for. The girl working there comes up to me, “Are you okay?”  (This time I’m flummoxed. I really think that I *look* okay, but obviously I’m not hiding it well.)  I realize my head is in my hands. “I’m fine, thanks,” as I quickly resume eating.

After eating, I’m still not feeling great. I sat there for a while, savoring a song that I really like that is playing. I had planned on walking a few blocks north to the Dollar Tree, but I realize on my way to the bus stop that all I want to do is go home.

I much prefer the days where I get dressed and get out and feel invigorated, even if my energy level may or may not be where I’d like it to be: not these days where I’m in denial because I’m tired of not getting things done.

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Changing Meds is for the Birds

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birds-311975_1280When you’re on psychiatric medication, it’s a given that at least every few years your medication will “wear off” i.e. not work as well, and that your psychiatrist will need to find some changes for you. I will not try to outline every problem I’ve had with every medication change in just one post. That would take a l*o*t of writing and trying to remember lots of random stuff. But let’s just say that I’ve been on one particular medication for almost 10 years. It’s worked really well for me. 10 years is a long time for one medication to keep working, though. (Now remember, I’m not a doctor….notice the “liability” notice at the very bottom. I’m spouting what I remember best from what I’ve been told through several sources. This is NOT medical advice. I majored in history, people. Minors in music and French. I can’t help diagnose anything or give advice on prescriptions.)bottles-309391_640

So, about three years ago when I came to this mountain state to try to finish my degree, the nightmares that I’ve had on and off almost my whole life (at least since my teen years) got a lot worse again. So, I got put on a medication that’s supposed to help lessen the nightmares, called Prazosin. It did help, a lot. Then trying to do school full time messed up all my symptoms. I’d be sitting in class and my fear would increase even though I couldn’t think of anything I needed to be afraid of. The harmless people around me suddenly seemed scary, even though generally I’m not that easily intimidated by people. I was exhausted and I’d go to bed around 4-6pm and sleep until 2pm the next day, and my roommates would be worried whether or not I’d eaten, and I’d wake up with my blood sugar abysmally low and unable to speak or walk straight. I had several bouts of sleeping 32-36 hours straight. When I was married, my ex-husband would call this “comatose” because he could say my name and gently shake me and talk to me and pick me up a few inches then let me drop to my pillow and nothing would rouse me. I’d be in a deep, deep sleep because I’d get so tired. My therapist in Los Angeles had done her Ph.D. Research in anxiety, and she explained to me that high anxiety, whether from good or bad things, tires people out. So, those with high anxiety problems are often tired….all the time.penguin-159784_1280 sleeping

Hmm, back to the subject. I had wanted to finish my degree so that I could at least be a substitute teacher in CA and work on the days when I felt up to it, and rest on the days that I didn’t. I also figured that school would be a good “dry run” because I had to go full time in order to get a Pell Grant, and I could “rest” when I wasn’t in class. Instead I had some of the same problems I had when I’d come home from France for my Junior and Senior years at BYU years before: sometimes I was okay, but increasingly I couldn’t concentrate, at all, on my readings. I could “fake it” pretty well in class, for a while, but then I crashed. The fatigue increased to where I couldn’t make it to class much anymore and if I did, my insides felt like there was an earthquake, and even if I though I looked okay on the outside, complete strangers would ask me if I was okay and if they could get me something to eat or find somewhere for me to sit down. I had been bound and determined to finish school, but it wasn’t going to happen.

This was about medication, huh?  🙂  So, it’s cheaper for my parents, who are helping me out (huge blessing) for me to be here than in CA with my kids. Not going to go there right now. Worst thing of my life. My kids are in great hands, though. Still worst thing ever. But…I started my application for disability, for the second time. I’ll tell the “first time” story another day. And waiting on disability can take a very long time. It’s been almost two years now.nightmare-455776_1280

Last fall, when I thought I was recovering, sort of, from too much stress, things got worse instead. After about 4-5 months of not being able to wake up and the worst nightmares I’ve had since my divorce ten years ago (but there were more of them, and they seemed “real,” and I couldn’t tell if they were my reality or not) my doctor tries a few meds that gave me severe side effects. We finally settled on something for sleep, and within a few weeks I had the most normal sleep schedule I’d had since I was 22 years old. The best part? I could wake up if I needed to. No more hours of nightmares about trying to wake up, and getting taken to a different place in my nightmares instead. I could set my alarm and wake up.

We’re almost to the end of this chapter. I had several months of good sleep and getting more Priesthood Blessings (I apologize if you’re not LDS and you don’t know what this is, I can explain or provide a link later) and learning a new sort of meditation technique called “tapping” and using some essential oils, then a few weeks ago things got really bad again. This time it was racing thoughts. I do have these from time to time, but it hadn’t been this bad since I was in school, and it was worse. I felt like I was losing my mind, like I was afraid of everyone. I think part of what precipitated it was a lot of paperwork I had needed to do for various things (I get kind of paranoid about paperwork, I feel like I’m going to do everything wrong) and some stressful things in my family life. All I could do for the racing thoughts was to lie down in bed and try to clear my head, but I was having trouble getting enough to eat. I wondered if I should check myself into the hospital. I got advice from several different people over the weekend and ended up with an appointment to see my doctor. I found a ride to my trauma group before my doctor’s appointment. That group is always helpful to me, but this time especially so. Everyone in the group said that it sounded like I was in need of a medication change, and that I would be okay. So much better than however expensive the hospital or E.R. is (thankfully I’ve never had to stay in the hospital overnight) and the doctor was really helpful.teddy-242848_1280

End of the story: the doctor upped one of my meds and put me on another one that I was on years ago. I’ve been sleepy for a couple weeks (only awake for maybe 6-8 hours/day) which of course also freaked me out, but it was much better than the paranoia and racing thoughts. The past couple days I’ve been feeling like I’m pulling out of the sleepiness. Also, I had a really nice visit from an uncle and aunt that I love a lot.

I do not want this to go one for the rest of my life. I’ve been told by a couple doctors that they believe I can come out of this eventually, as well as therapists. I want to believe that.

I didn’t expect to make this entry so long, but there it is. Kudos if you got through the whole thing.  🙂