Posted by: Judy | April 20, 2016

Personal “BUDs” starting at the beginning…

Sleep.

I listed Sleep first, so that’s where I’m starting.

I’ve spent my life in sleep deprivation… I need to truly start at the beginning.

Over on FB, Darlene Ouimet from Emerging From Broken talked about making triggers friends. She used them as opportunities to examine the pain and damage. I confess I’d never thought of them in that light. I wanted them to go away. I still don’t like them, but I realize now I need them. Flashbacks have become more frequent. I hate them, but they also help me understand why the “instant rage” appears. In truth, it isn’t instant. It’s long buried hurt and humiliation from abuse. The rage is healthy anger at healthy boundaries repeatedly violated finally exploding. It starts in fear and morphs. I prefer rage over fear.

Depression is suppressed rage. Yes, I’ve spent my life fighting depression. Sometimes, I’m more successful than others.

A peaceful night’s sleep is a rare event… I don’t remember the last one… start at the beginning.

Stories told about me growing up include being told I wasn’t allowed to nap because they wanted to ensure I slept at night. I don’t know when this started. I was punished if I woke EF or NM. As I write that, yes, I blink and shake my head. I was woken early on Saturday mornings to do chores. I was woken early to prepare for church on Sunday. I was woken early to do chores before school. I remember sleeping in as a teenager, but it was met with criticism. Then again, pretty much everything I did was criticized. I’m wandering. Back to sleep.

I talked in my sleep as a child. Sleepovers proved that one. I hated sleepovers after that little revelation.

I struggled in school from my perspective but earned good grades. Learning to work around my dyslexia was a challenge. Some classes were easy to grasp, others a constant battle. My relationships… looking back, lacked because I lacked. I hid so much. So many lies. Shoot… wandering again.

Sleep wasn’t pleasant as a child. I had kidney infections on a regular basis. Knowing what I know now, I don’t really want to know why so often. I prefer to remain in ignorance on that one. My poor sister shared the bed. She tells me I didn’t have it easy either since she had night terrors and would thrash and kick, which meant I was frequently beaten through no fault of either of us. Our brothers were given their own rooms, but she and I were required to share most of the years she was home. We only shared the same bed when we were younger.

Once I was in my own bed, I had severe devil-chasing me nightmares as a child. Terrifying. Evil. Truly evil. I finally commanded the adversary to depart in the name of Jesus. Yes, it worked. I never had those kinds of nightmares again. They shifted to dreams of running and running like running in a pool of jello. I could make no progress. I couldn’t escape. I don’t know for sure when it stopped either, except I remember learning a person could change their dreams. I did. In that moment between not quite awake, still in the dream, I simply stopped it. I don’t remember how, though I think it was simply acknowledging it wasn’t real.

Then I started dreaming about my friends. I hated those. They’d tell me what was going on in their life, and I already knew. The dreams weren’t useful or helpful. I asked God to take those away.

Dreams disappeared. For years.

I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. I’d delved so deeply into sleep depravation I no longer dreamed. I was always tired, but you push through anyway.

When I worked for the airlines, the sleep depravation worsened. I reached the point where I worked, came home, took the dog for a walk, and slept, repeat. On weekends, I slept all weekend, except for walking the dog. If not for her, I suspect it would have been worse. The dog was my only variation in my work/sleep cycle the last year I worked there. Sometimes, I managed to make it to church. A lot of weekends, I didn’t. I slept 14-16 hours a day, without waking. I knew I could choose to leave my job or I could be fired for too many absences. I chose to leave of my own accord. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue.

I scheduled to finish my last semester worth of classes in one semester. I’d been taking them one class at a time. I had a full load. Classes were Tues and Thur. I did homework and slept the rest of the time. Again, I didn’t socialize or go to church often. Good days I only slept 12 hours a day. I slowly but surely recovered, to an extent. Not entirely. I wore out easily and at least once or twice a week I’d sleep 12 hours, sleeping 9 or 10 the other days. I think I remember that correctly, but I can’t be sure. So much of my life is a blur.

Owning my horse improved my health considerably. Sleep wasn’t the option it had been. I grained every morning for five years. I also cleaned his stall. I’d go back on Saturday night to clean so I wouldn’t need to clean Sunday morning, only grain. I did what needed to be done. I know how to do that.

For 17 years, I worked my schedule around my dog, but she was a little more flexible than the horse. I lost count of the number of times the only reason I dragged myself from bed was so I could take her outside, take her for a walk, feed her… take care of her. I’m not sure I would have made it without her.

Dreams finally came back, insidious nightmares. I felt like a fraud calling them nightmares. It wasn’t until I saw my last counselor and he assured me they were their own kind of nightmare. I dreamed of marrying, a beautiful home of my own, a family, perfect. Every single dreamed included my dog. She’d passed away, making every dream a lie. I’d wake up and cry, wishing desperately to go back to sleep to the beautiful dream. My counselor said it was the type of nightmarish dream a starving child would have, dreaming of a feast only to awaken to another day of going hungry.

I have no memories of waking rested, even when I lived in Yellowstone, Thailand, and Europe. I did what needs must.

I’ve done plenty of research and experimenting. I know I need to make sleep a priority. I’ve made an effort, but not a 3,000 sit-ups or 7,000 lunges in one day effort. More half-hearted. Easily discouraged. Berating myself for not being smart enough to figure out what works for me.

Night One of endeavoring to make sleep a priority, I went to bed at 10 p.m. restless. I slept but woke at 12:30 a.m., agitated. At family dinner, NM sat by me, for over an hour. I didn’t move. My fault. I needed to walk, but I’m not so suicidal I’d walk alone outside at 12:30 a.m. I’ve come to accept that No Contact is the only option but impossible under the circumstances. Too stupid to figure out a way to escape the nightmare. I rocked in my bed for an hour and a half, berating myself, crying, before I settled enough to go back to sleep.

Night Two of endeavoring to make sleep a priority, I went to bed at 10 p.m., restless. I woke at 1 a.m., agitated. Again, I don’t dream nightmares, I wake up to them. My computer is showing its age. My cable company is upgrading its system. Some of my programs no longer work. I need to update my modem and my computer. I like what I have. It’s served me well. I have to make some decisions. I don’t really know where to start. It’s important to note that too many decisions being tossed at me all at once that had to be answered correctly and immediately is one of the ways I was controlled. The aim was to put me in such a dither I froze, unable to make any decision at all, then it was easy to tell me what to do. I was so grateful I had a direction. I thanked them for their help. Another two hours to slow my thinking enough to go back to sleep. Yes, I’m feeling pretty stupid, again.

I’m not looking forward to Night Three. I’m going to try the Delta Sleep System by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. It’s a CD to listen to while going to sleep. It was given to me by an old friend a while ago. My sleep routine was different at the time it was sent. I’ve made some changes. It won’t hurt to try it.

Some have nightmares when they sleep. I wake to my own personal nightmares. I’m where I never ever wanted to be.

None of this makes proper sleep any less important or any easier. Well, 3,000 sit-ups or 7,000 lunges in one day is impossible to me, so time to do the impossible, one night at a time. So far, epic fails.

Judith said that I’m stronger than I think. I need to repeat that 3,000-7,000 times a day. I also need to repeat that God is stronger than I believe.

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Responses

  1. There was this totally goofy line in the recent Sally Field movie “Hello My Name is Doris” where a life coach type guru said to rethink “impossible” as:

    I’m possible.

    • Goofy, but I liked the thought.

    • Thanks! I love that. That’s another one I need to say to myself 3,000-7,000 times a day.

  2. So many obstacles to good sleep, it can seem like I’m just going to get in bed and climb mount Everest. As you pointed out, we were trained not to sleep so part of our basic untraining.
    My one son and hubby both talk in their sleep. One son had night terrors. One was prescribed melatonin by the pediatrician. My daughter struggles to fall asleep despite spending hours in a darkened room. My point is I was amazed, that there must be some genetic component to sleeping poorly. I used to think every one of my sleep issues was due to my childhood trauma. Now I know it compounded it, but like everything else, I possibly would have struggled with sleep somewhat even with a peaceful childhood. I guess for me, this was a huge realization, because I feel more like a unique person, and less like a broken one. Of course this has not translated to any regular quality sleep yet, but I no longer think it’s completely impossible. Just another item to keep practicing and see what happens. I surely hope you get some well deserved rest. Oh, and I know exactly what you mean by the insidious nightmare showing us visions of life we can’t have. I’ve had those, and it’s difficult to pull yourself up out of that dark pain

    • I figure it’s one of the 3,000-7,000 times a day… well, not a day, but it’s the idea I have to work at it and not give up so easily.


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