• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

haunting

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I suffer from exteme nightmares. I wake my household up regularily with screams and cries. I avoid sleep. I can't control what goes on while I am sleeping, so I would rather be awake.

I dream about the past. I dream about violence, death, hurt. I dream about me being a child and hiding in my closet in fear of acts of harm. I dream about my husband yelling and shoving and choking me. I am sick of nightmares. How do you deal with this when you are asleep? I remember almost every little detail when I awaken. My face is wet, my eyes are swollen. The little 3 hours of sleep I do get, can this really be the kind of sleep that gives you rest? I am fatigued, truly drained.

Do you ever feel like hiding so far away that nobody would ever find you? Thats how I feel. I want to run, just disappear.

Haunting
 

David Baxter

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Have you ever been treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Haunting?

Some people have found a technique called EMDR helpful -- you might see if you can find a therapist who is trained in this technique.
 

Daniel

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I remember almost every little detail when I awaken.

Which is worse...the nightmare itself in deep sleep or the semi-awake or fully awake recollection of it? I guess with extreme nightmares the former is true and with regular nightmares the latter is true. Maybe with extreme nightmares one is more lucid while dreaming in deep REM sleep (as in "lucid dreaming") but not lucid enough to end the nightmare?

I only have occasional, mild nightmares like most people, and I don't have the kind of nightmares my brother used to have with PTSD. However, when I do have nightmares, the worst part seems to be the transition from sleep to waking up from the dream. This transition seems to "incubate" some of the dream into semi-awake consciousness before one realizes the dream isn't real.
 

haunting

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?

No Dr. Baxter, I have never been treated for PTSD. It seems as though this is something that others are reluctant in diagnosing, but I do feel this is the case with me. I have thought about hypnosis, but am afraid of this.

My nightmares affect me the entire day following. This is why I would rather be awake. I had to force myself to calm down and try to sleep last night. But as always, the dreams took over and I awoke with the feeling of once again, wanting to die.

I dream often about when I was a child. I used to hide in my closet, away from my dad, the alcohol, the parties, the fighting...... it was my safe place. I took all of my stuffed animals in with me. (I know, how pathetic). I had a long closet; lol. I crawled in to that place of darkness where I never wanted to leave, and found myself still there when I woke up. I have the dreams of when my father drank himself into this evil demon, who was so violent. I dream about how my husband grabbed our son by the neck and dragging him screaming up the stairs. Of course I would step in, I would rather see him hurt me then my baby boy. I may be divorced, but he will never let me go. I see that man in my face, yelling, taunting, hurting all of us. I hate this.

Anything that goes on in my day, I guarentee, I will dream about it that night. Then it seems to drag on to the past. My dreams are a jumbled mess. So like I say, what is worse? Being awake, or being asleep? I would choose the sleep deprivation anytime.

Haunting
 

David Baxter

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I doubt that hypnosis would do much good anyway, Haunting, but as I said there have been reports of good results with EMDR (which is not related to hypnosis). It might be well worth your while to explore this since when it works it seems to do so relatively quickly and the results can be quite dramatic.
 

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If you don't like EMDR, there is always CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). According to EMDR critics, EMDR may simply be a more friendly version of CBT/desensitization for some people.

My nightmares affect me the entire day following. This is why I would rather be awake.

Of course, in waking consciousness, the memory of the dream is not as much of an issue as the emotions surrounding it. From the little I know about PTSD, one goal is to lessen the emotional reaction of emotionally engrained memories. On the positive side, it is interesting that the brain forms memories like jello with the emotional reaction of the hypothalamus determining how well the "jello" will form. Of course, this is how "emotional scars" are formed.
 

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I don't think it is simply CBT. To be honest, I don't know how it works, or why it does when it does and doesn't when it doesn't. I am not an EMDR therapist. But I have seen it used with quite remarkable effects on a couple of clients...

The theory, by the way, is that it isn't the eye movements or other repetitive movements or sensory stimuli themselves but rather the stimulation of various areas of the brain caused by those repetitive experiences.
 

Daniel

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Another positive aspect of EMDR is that it is said to require less sessions than CBT.
 

David Baxter

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Yes. When it works, often one sees results in as little as 1 to 3 sessions.
 

haunting

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Sorry for my ignorence. I don't understand what this means. What is EMDR and CBT. Kind of lost here. Could you explain what this is?

Thanks,

Haunting
 

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The sheer number of EMDR therapists may be another positive indication. According to EMDR.com, there are 13 EMDR therapists in my small college town.
 

David Baxter

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Sorry about that, Haunting.

CBT = Cognitive Behavior Therapy
EMDR = Eye Movement Desensitization and Retraining (a bit of a misnomer in some ways)
 

haunting

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Okay, I understand that part of it. But how can this help with nightmares? How can you help someone who is sleeping; lolol.

I sound dumb for sure. Just have not heard of all of this before. It sounds interesting though.

Thanks,

Haunting
 

David Baxter

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EMDR is currently being touted as the treatment of choice for PTSD or even immediate post-trauma effects.

I'm not sure that I would go that far but as I said I have seen some apparently significant benefits in a very short time.

How would this help with your nightmares? By helping you process / address the original traumatic events so they are repeatedly emerging when your defenses are down to torment and haunt you.
 

haunting

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Okay, makes sense. The problem is, I don't want to go through the emotions of going to all these places that I try to ignore. What I mean is, I am afraid to examine these memories, feelings that do truly haunt me. I find it all too real, too overwhelming. Does that make any sense?

What I am thinking is the fact that dealing with all of this, well, it would push me completely over the edge. I don't think I am far away from that, but I don't ever want to be the one that others know I killed myself because of a mental illness. The way I may be doing this is with my ED. How would everyone know if this is the cause of my termination of my life? I hide my ED well, I have learnt how to put the mask of deception on.

Like I say, my doctor told me I am dying, slowly killing myself. I accept this, I own this.

Haunting
 

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EMDR seems as safe as traditional counseling. According to EMDR.com, over a million people have tried it already. More info:

During the second phase of [EMDR] treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has adequate methods of handling emotional distress and good coping skills, and that the client is in a relatively stable state. If further stabilization is required, or if additional skills are needed, therapy focuses on providing these. The client is then able to use stress reducing techniques whenever necessary, during or between sessions. However, one goal is not to need these techniques once therapy is complete.

...If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty with the process, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client resume processing. When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, the clinician asks him/her to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session, or a better one if it has emerged, and to focus on the incident, while simultaneously engaging in the eye movements. After several sets, clients generally report increased confidence in this positive belief. The therapist checks with the client regarding body sensations. If there are negative sensations, these are processed as above. If there are positive sensations, they are further enhanced.
http://www.emdr.com/briefdes.htm
 

haunting

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Thanks for explaining this. Now it makes more sense. This sounds very interesting. I will look into this site you have provided. I would like to learn more about it, decide for myself if this would ever be an option, but for right now, I am just here.

Haunting.
 

Techie

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Hi Haunting,

I suffer from several sleep disorders... and nightmares is/was one of them !

Let me first ask... do you take any sedatives or medication for sleeping ? I think that all of the tricyclic antidepressants have some sedative effect as well. My own research has shown that more than a few of them cause 'lucid dreaming' and/or 'nightmares / night terrors'.

I have had to stop all medications... the result has been no more nightmares !! Mine were really bad however... I would frequently go 120+ hours with NO sleep... I mean not 1 second ! I was a wreck ! I was so affraid of the nightmares. And yes, they would bother me the whole day through as well... it got so bad that I could not work and had changed my sleep pattern so that I would sleep only during the day and I was awake all night.

Now, to expand this... IF you DO take meds.... did you notice if they got worse after you started taking the meds ?

I know what it is like to AVOID going to sleep becuase of nightmares !! I HATE that feeling ! The only other thing I can suggest is to create a 'safe' environment. Try to avoid making a room like a vault... with you trapped inside hiding from an unsafe world ! You rather want things like a brighter nightlight... avoiding hanging clothes out in the open to prevent shadows/shapes. The idea is to not only feel secure but to prevent 'seeing' things that are exaggerated by your semi-conscious state. You want to create a cozy/comfy even a fun place to sleep that is really different from the place you are used to. You want a place you ENJOY rather than dread.

Do you remember a time / place when you could sleep with no nightmares ? Try to replicate that environment. Sights, sounds, even smells ! For me its the sound of heavy rain and thunder ! lol I sleep like a baby !
 

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