Archives for posts with tag: night terrors

“You’re not alone in this,” I whispered to myself when I woke a tad ahead of the alarm. Startled out of sleeping by a sensation of choking. Of being choked. That invisible hand wasn’t “real” – outside my nightmares. I made coffee. My coffee is good. Meditation calmed me quickly; there was a time it would have taken longer, and required more attempts. Progress.

…I sometimes find I need a… score. A theme song. A soundtrack. This morning I stride across a metaphysical battlefield, Monster Slayer, Demon Killer, just a general Wednesday-morning-got-a-job-to-do, bad ass. A theme song would be good here… something… Oh. This works nicely. Stand down, monsters, you have no power over me. Not today. 🙂

At this point, it’s an ordinary Wednesday morning. 😀

No kidding, though, giving my personal inner demons a face, and a way to constructively face them “outside myself” has been a helpful way to get a grip on some of my challenges in life. I’ve far fewer “inner demons” to deal with these days. (Maybe they don’t like the music I play? 😉 )

Every demon – every day – a new battle, a new battlefield. Still, as demons go, fighting the ones that are built purely on my subjective experience of life, and live entirely within my own head, are surely the easiest ones to slay with music? lol I enjoy the practice of imagining myself at my strongest, my most capable, of savoring my successes, of bringing my strengths into my self-awareness when I am feeling attacked from within. This morning, my inner bad ass has her combat boots on. “You ready, Battle?” I ask myself. The answer? “Fuck yeah. I got this!”

I’m ready to begin again.

I’m awake. It’s 1:37 am.

I’m not awake for some wonderfully cool reason, like a late night out with friends, or not yet home from a concert, or anything like that. I’d intended to be sleeping, and until some moments ago, I was.

I woke abruptly from a deep sleep, heart pounding hard and beating very fast. I felt short of breath, and fearful. Panicked. The world was quiet, so I could pretty safely assume whatever woke me was internal, rather than external. I didn’t struggle to find a solution to my racing heart and gasping breath; I immediately, gently, eased myself into a very comfortable relaxed position, and began slowing and deepening my breathing, and soothing my consciousness; there was nothing obvious to be so frightened about. I started letting that go, first, with firm reminders to remain in the moment, there in the darkness of a space that, after 4 months, finally feels more or less familiar, most of the time. I turned on a light. I sat up. I continued to support myself with soothing practices. I got up and took an antacid for my very acid stomach and quietly cursed my acid reflux. I got a glass of water and added some Calm to that.

Over the next few minutes, sitting down to write a few words, using even that to help me “sort myself out” in the quiet hours of night, I sip on my glass of water, and feel the chill of the room start to play a part, too, cooling me down.

It’s been a long long time since I let myself make any effort to “figure out” a waking moment like that one. I just don’t do it any more. It’s like digging at a scab, just barely gratifying at all, and definitely not actually helpful, just very compelling. So, I don’t. Because doing so wasn’t useful in a positive way, and it tended only to mire me in a whole assortment of shitty crap loitering in the dark corners of my consciousness waiting for a chance to be weaponized and turned inward. So… I don’t know what woke me. I don’t know why I woke so frightened and overwhelmed. I don’t know what the anxiety was about. I have made knowing such things not a priority of any sort. And… since I’m not “picking at that sore”, the fear and anxiety are already dissipating. With practice, not hours – minutes. It is 1:51 am. I may actually get back to sleep at some point, soon. 🙂

I’m still feeling restless and weird. So, some yoga next. Just postures that promote relaxation and calm. I keep the lights dim. Each small practice picked up along the way has value right now. One by one, I step through the most relevant practices I have learned over time, and I feel myself begin to calm, to become relaxed, to settle down through and through. I’m okay, right now. It’s enough.

I think I’ve mostly come to terms with the likelihood that some portion of my symptoms of PTSD may linger for the remainder of my life time… I sure feel more able to deal with them, generally. Even two years ago, a night like this might have evolved into something more serious, lasting days, destroying my sleep, eroding my judgment, damaging my relationships… this seems better, not perfect. There is no “perfect”. I’m not “cured” – but I am far better at caring for myself in such moments. That’s something pretty wonderful.

I finish my water. Run this post through spellcheck. Then, head back to bed. 🙂

 

It seems a strange morning to write. My thoughts are incoherent and disorganized. Various ‘reasons’ I’m sure, though I don’t think it really requires an explanation, does it? I’m smiling and thinking how rarely an explanation changes an experience, however it may change my perspective.

I slept restlessly last night. I woke in a state of panic and dread at 1:42 am. I had no recollection of my dreams, and no awareness of any startling sounds or movement in my environment. I still occasionally have night terrors, and having crashed out around 10:30 pm, the timing is right. Knowledge offered no relief from the feelings, but it gave me leverage to use new skills to soothe myself, slow my heart rate, calm my breathing, settle my emotions, and eventually return to sleep. Meditation – the most powerful Rx I’ve ever been prescribed for a whole host of bullshit that challenges me.

The mysteries of the sleeping self are sometimes best left as mysteries.

After waking, dreams fade into the distance.

I woke abruptly, later, and still early (for a weekend day, when I could theoretically choose to ‘sleep in’). I woke shortly after 6:00 am, and feeling uneasy and vaguely pissed-off. I started the morning with more meditation, no agenda, no pressure, and from meditation I moved on to yoga; this gentle routine has become such a feature of my experience that I no longer plan it on my calendar, or set a reminder on my phone, or put a sticky note on my monitor. This slow unfolding of self in the morning is part of who I am now. It’s a nice change. By the time I got to the kitchen to pull a shot of espresso I felt calm, and content. It isn’t always that easy – honestly, the words make it sound ‘easier’ than it actually is. There is an implied commitment to practice, a commitment to self, a commitment to healing – and these require real effort, and a willingness to come back to the practice again and again, in the moment, and the will to face myself in the mirror of my minds-eye in a truly vulnerable and honest way, aware and still, inside myself. ‘Easy’ is not an accurate descriptor.

Practice. It's the practice that is the point; there is no 'mastery'.

Practice. It’s the practice that is the point; there is no ‘mastery’.

I still feel whatever is agitating me lurking in the background of my consciousness, an anxiety that comes and goes, as if it is preparing for some sneak attack, and checking regularly to see if I am still aware. (Personifying my issues isn’t something I take literally – or lightly – but I find that some of my issues are more easily faced when they have, well, faces. lol. 😉 ) I am hopeful that continued practice, presence in the moment, moving through my day mindfully and with great self-compassion will be enough to prevent some nasty attack on my equanimity by my demons. My analyst-brain urgently wants to pick at this sense of unease that returns now and then, to force it to give up its secrets, and tell me ‘why’, but it is a misleading temptation; giving in to it would likely result only in more pain and distress, because most likely there is no ‘why’ at all. Not in my here and now, at least, and perhaps not even in the remnants of last night’s dreams.

When I feel aware of the unease, this morning, I face it. I breathe. I feel myself relax. I move into the moment in a more present way. I take time for a few moments to be still, aware, to be compassionate and show myself kindness; I am human, these experiences of unease are uncomfortable, and result in more emotion on that blue end of the spectrum unless I slow down and take time to care for me. This morning, I have many small opportunities to practice emotional self-sufficiency. This morning life’s curriculum seems to be of the lab variety; hands on, and practicing. I’m okay with that; I expect willful change to require both choice and effort.

The map is not the world. Hell, the map isn't even the journey.

The map is not the world. Hell, the map isn’t even the journey.

Today is a good day to practice taking care of me. Today is a good day for compassion and for kindness. Today is a good day to build equanimity. Today is a good day to change the world.