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PTSD And Me (Nightmares)

Mental Health and Trauma Blog | Noisy

I was diagnosed with PTSD, or rather C-PTSD, many years ago, at the time I didn't know complex post-traumatic stress disorder was a thing. Flashbacks, graphic ones at that, the anger inside, the violent outbursts. The seemingly never-ending list of triggers that set me off. PTSD is shit, regardless of if you have the OG version or the super upgraded version. C-PTSD is hell, it's painful, it's debilitating, and with it comes exhaustion, anger, fear, and panic attacks (just to name a few).

But what really fucks me up are the nightmares. So graphic in detail, so gruesome and violent that I wake up screaming and crying. The nightmares can be so bad that I'm scared to go to sleep. At times the nightmares are worse than daily life living with C-PTSD. They're so bad I have PTSD symptoms from them, I'll have flashbacks during the day from what I saw, my heart rate will skyrocket, I'll have panic attacks, all from nightmares. What makes it worse is sometimes the nightmares aren't of past traumatic experiences, but completely made-up scenarios. My fucked-up brain has created some nightmarish scenario that I'm forced to live through as I sleep, to process some nightmarish scenario I experienced in real life.

I know my brain is only doing the best it can, and I get we've been through a lot together from pretty much birth, but reliving past traumas when I'm awake and then experiencing new ones as I sleep is a bit of a joke. There's no break from it all, there's trauma on top of trauma (you can probably see why I must go back into therapy). I'm on medication and it does take the edge off, but it can only do so much. My brain is in a permanent fight or flight response. There's no break, there are no moments of calm, it's always on guard, high alert, looking for the threat. There are distractions which help, they help me greatly, it's a bit of respite from the hell I live through, but as soon as I put my guard down my brain notices and I get dragged straight back to hell. You wouldn't know any of this by looking at me. I can be out in public doing the food shopping, or grabbing a coffee, whatever it may be, and I'll seem fine. I will look "normal". But in reality I sit with my back to the wall, I look for every possible entrance and exit to the building I'm in, I scan every person that I see to figure out if they're a threat or not, I stop and pay close attention when I hear a noise that my brain distinguishes as a threat, I jump at anything, I'm so easily startled. But you don't see any of that because I'm subtle with it, if I'm having a bad day it's much easier to spot, but for the most part you are none the wiser. You don't know I'm reliving hell every day. I don't know what's worse, the one-off nightmares I see, that are so graphic and bloody they have me waking up in a cold sweat. Or the ones that are probably just as bad, but I've seen them so many times over during my life that they don't scare me anymore. They're awful in every way imaginable, but I'm so desensitised to what I see that those nightmares don't phase me. When I think about that, it scares me. There's no escape from PTSD, even at night in the comfort of my bed, wrapped up tightly so I feel safe, when I finally drift off to sleep I'm still not safe from living, or reliving, trauma. PTSD and C-PTSD is exhausting, you don't get a day off, and the pay is shit, but still we keep fighting. This is the fight of your life. - Noisy

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