PTSD is a weird thing. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have it. I’ve tried and never been able to fully explain it. I usually get a response like, “Yes, I understand, I have problems sleeping sometimes too!, or I understand completely! Sometimes I forget things.” But, unfortunately the person that says this only thinks they understand. They’re well meaning, but they don’t truly understand.
Here’s an example. I had difficulty sleeping last night. I have these nights every so often. Some times more often than not. But, it’s not just insomnia or I’m just thinking about things. During these nights my brain is running scenarios that don’t exist or haven’t happened. These scenarios are combined with visions and feelings from the past. Some nights I remember that thoughts or memories and sometimes I don’t.
Last night I don’t remember what the thoughts or memories were. What I do know is I woke up this morning with an elevated heart rate and the overwhelming feeling through my whole body that something was horribly wrong. Problem was I had no idea what was so wrong. All I knew was that it was bad, very bad. So the first thing I did this morning was try to rule out any ‘real world’ problems. Was something really tragically wrong, or is it just my mind running wild again? Turns out it was just in my head.
But, once I figured out that the threat was not real I still have to deal with the physical issues that the night has caused. My mind is still reeling and my body is as tense as if I was in a physical fight. My heart rate is still very elevated. I haven’t tested my blood pressure, but my assumption is that it is too high as well.
So, now I will need to spend an hour or two trying to ‘come down’ from the imaginary fight I’ve been in. That process will take a while. Depending on the day, it may take hours to get back in control. Hopefully, I won’t have to take a zanex to aid the process. I prefer not to take that medicine. Although occasionally I have no choice. Sometimes I think it would be better if I woke up and actually met a threat of some sort. At least then I’d have a target to direct my anxiety towards.
- Pre-existing insomnia linked to PTSD and other mental disorders after military deployment (psypost.org)
- Insomnia Can Worsen PTSD, Depression And Anxiety In Returning War Veterans (medicaldaily.com)