The one where I want to throw a tantrum

Here is something I am currently struggling with.

Well, struggling is a bit of an understatement.

As I grow old-er, I am learning to make peace with my health issues and the limitations they impose on me.

The chronic physical pain has been inexorably taking me away from all the activities I love, all the physical activities that had made me happy since childhood, such as cycling, skating, rock climbing, hiking, working out, dancing. Some days I am more successful than others in not resenting it but in general I have come to terms with it.

Same -more or less- for the chronic emotional pain.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be referred to a four-week long day hospital program where I was trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Best thing that could have happened to me, mental health related.

I find CBT tremendously useful in my daily life. I have internalized and incorporated CBT in my coping mechanisms and my life is more balanced and happier as a result. It is not an “and she lived happily ever after” story, of course, but I am very grateful for it.

Through many a trial and error, decades-long experiments, I have learned to live in the moment and I believed I have -if not mastered- then gotten very close to that live every day like it is your last philosophy of life.

That effectively means being well aware of my limitations and my pain but choosing to enjoy whatever comes my way as much as possible. Most of the time I manage to be successful as those near me are aware.

I am not one to miss the beauty of the wild flower or the heartwarming song of a little bird. Or the adorable antics of a kitten.

But there is something that is tenaciously bringing me down to my knees: The perennial nightmares and the hallucinations that come afterwards.

They destabilize me. They damage my calm. They send me spiraling down the rabbit hole.

Today, I woke up shivering, all covered in sweat, as it is the norm after a nightmare. And I mean all covered in sweat. My legs, my thighs, my crotch, my torso, my breasts, my armpits, my neck, my arms, my hair. Soaking wet pyjama bottoms, underwear and tank top.

And that’s the least worse part.

The worse part is being awake yet not being awake.

By which I mean knowing (slowly realizing) the dreaming and therefore the sleeping is over or on its way to being over but not being able to enjoy the perks that come with awakeness.

Being mildly aware of my environment, the fact that I am cold and shivering, but not quite able to move.

For years, when I didn’t know what was happening, when I didn’t understand what was happening, it was absolutely terrifying. Alien-abduction kind of terrifying.

Now that I understand it, only the first moments -or is it the first few eons of an eternity?- are. I am pretty sure this is how science fiction writers came up with the ways to describe time travel, and warp and wormhole travelling.

Full awareness comes before full awakeness and let me tell you, that is disturbing as hell.

Worse, it lingers.

Sometimes for hours. Sometimes for a full day.

It disturbs my day.

It wrecks my plans.

It breaks me.

It makes me hate life.

It makes me want it all to be over.

It makes me want to throw a tantrum. To stomp the floor, put my hands on my [inexistent] waist, shake my head, then pout and say this is all very unfair while my lower lip trembles.

Mostly I just curl up in bed and wish I can wait it out.

Either that or that my mommy comes and hugs me tight and tells me everything will be okay.

Or you know, that I fall back asleep to never wake up again.

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9 thoughts on “The one where I want to throw a tantrum

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

    You are experiencing night terrors complicated by sleep paralysis. That is why you are aware that you are no longer asleep, but the “nightmare” (In quotes because it is not a normal nightmare) persists and you are pegged down to the bed.

    Get thee to a sleep specialist STAT. This can be treated. Bravo on the absolutely classic description of what is possibly one of the worst psycho experiences our naughty brains can visit upon us.

    Oh, if we could just take them out and spank them, and tell them to play nice! But they would just go SQUISH and then what???

    • Summer Solstice Girl says:

      Yes, I was diagnosed (or rather, my own diagnosis was confirmed but my doctor, but really, as you say, it is perfect textbook).

      Are there any new treatments out? Cause I already tried SSRIs (Prozac first, then celexa) and they didn’t help

      • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

        Amazingly, I don’t know the answer to that one πŸ’©

        I’m really sorry you have these things. I recall reading something that suggested they were a type of seizure-like thing, which makes a lot of sense to me. So if I were seeing someone with this sort of thing, I might be tempted to go with a trial of an anti-epileptic and see if it helped. I don’t get near as many night terrors as I used to, now that I’m on Lamictil and gabapentin. And of course I have the Fiercess Doggess to keep away bogeypeople.

  2. Teresa says:

    what Laura said. I just found out that such a thing like sleep paralysis exists and this sounds exactly like the description of it that I’ve heard. Please take care of yourself and go to a sleep specialist.
    I miss you, Claudia. Let me know how I can help.

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