Tiny Little Monsters Under My Bed: Nightmares, Sleep Paralysis and Insomnia

Sleep issues
Picture from Pixabay

Nightmares

I’ve got a serious problem with monsters under my bed
they argue with the aliens in my head
the whole night long

I run as fast as I can. Through dark corridors, panting, sweating, trying to not breathe too loud. But I can hear the steps behind me, the disapproving smacking of his lips. The sound of the gun dragging along the walls. I know he is naked. I know he is angry. I know he is going to hurt me and might kill me if I don’t do what he tells me to do. Still, I run, it is instinctive. I run and try to hide somewhere but there are no doors to open, no windows to jump out of. But a long dark corridor. Panting, running, sweating. I can feel my legs hurting, my heart beating fast. The walls suddenly become more distant, the corridor wider and longer. The ceiling is further up. I have shrunk it seems. I run still, although my steps are smaller now. He is close now, the gun tapping on the wall. I can smell him. I can sense his anger. His arousal. His hatred. I run. And run. And run. I know he is going to get me. I scream. I cry. I am stuck, captured, dead already. I scream. And then I wake up.

I don’t believe in dream analysis. It has long been discarded by serious psychologists and belongs to past Freudian perspectives. I think dreams are our way of processing things that we were not able to process when we were conscious enough. And this is more so the case with traumatic experiences. If we haven’t been able to process them properly yet, they haunt us in the form of dreams. Those dreams don’t have to be exact memories of the event, they can be representations of them, depicting the emotions we felt, the situation in different circumstances. But always somehow related to the trauma.

I suffer from nightmares and night terrors. I don’t have them every night and when I am on the right kind of sleeping medication, they become less frequent. They are always related to what has happened in my past: the fears, the different kinds of abuse, the horrors I endured. They are never about the exact situation, although sometimes new images come forth, traumas I had pushed away and don’t have a memory of. My nightmares make me relive my trauma because my conscious mind has not processed what I had to endure, yet.

There is not a lot one can do about nightmares, although there are some therapeutic approaches that work for some. They don’t work for me. So every night, I fall asleep, knowing that I might have to relive some part of my trauma again.

Insomnia

Grinning furry creatures on my shoulder, in between a tired face
they throw things at each other in this chaotic place
the whole night long

Three hours of sleep. I try to close my eyes again, to stop my mind from racing. But I can’t. I think about all the things I want to do, that I need to do. Quick interludes of anxious thoughts. Why does my leg feel weird? What if my sugar is high right now? Did I send the email last night? I look at my phone and read messages, tags, reply to someone on Facebook, a text from a new friend, an entertaining email from my ex. Damnit. I need to sleep. This is not how it is supposed to be. I put the phone down, adjust the earplugs, and close my eyes. There is so much I want to do, I need to do! But I am supposed to sleep. Mind racing. Trying to be good and sleep more. NEED TO GET UP AND DO THINGS. Earplugs removed, I shakily get out of bed and try to conquer the world.

Sleep and having a routine around it is very important for self-management of bipolar disorder. Or so they say. I am not entirely sure how to sort if you just can’t sleep. I do everything I am supposed to do, and still, I wake up after a few hours. No sleep hygiene in the world, no mindfulness exercises, calming bubble baths or hours without screen time, can make much of a difference if your mind is in a hypomanic or mixed mode.

Your brain tells your body that you don’t need more sleep, and there you go, nothing you can do about it. I have learnt to be able to rest instead of sleep. Closing my eyes for a few minutes here and there is better than not resting at all. But it of course tears you down, makes you more vulnerable and more out of control. One of the factors that contribute to psychosis in bipolar disorder is the lack of sleep. Fortunately I have never gotten to that point. But I have definitely gotten a bit out of it and mad in the true sense of the word.

Sleep Paralysis

Tiny Monsters all around, small aliens inside of me
where are all those hairy monsters from?
tiny monsters all around, small aliens inside of me

I can’t move. My mind is awake but my body isn’t. I can’t move. I can’t fucking move. I am starting to panic. I try to send some kind of signal to my limbs but they are frozen. I feel like I am falling, deep, into the abyss, This feeling of falling is so scary. I try to cry but I can”t cry. My eyes are open, my mind is awake but my body is frozen, asleep. So I just lay there, in absolute panic, wondering if this is what death feels like, if I might have had a stroke. If this is going to last forever. I sweat. I scream inside. I am scared. So so scared. Eventually my mind gives up and I drift into sleep.

I sometimes suffer from sleep paralysis. It started with a medication I was prescribed, an antipsychotic I was supposed to take to stabilize my mood. The medication didn’t help but it seems to have altered something in my brain. I still get sleep paralysis, especially when I am exhausted and have had an emotionally draining day. It tends to happen when I am about to fall asleep and my body and mind don’t work well together, there is some kind of miscommunication. The first time it happened, I thought I was dying. Now it just makes me panic because it feels so wrong and I am worried the state would last forever. Sleep paralysis is one of the scariest things I have ever experienced, and I have been through some really tough stuff.

Bed Time Anxiety

imp-invasion in the kitchen, the fridge is under siege
they crash the dishes in the cupboard in this chaotic place
the whole night long
tiny monsters all around

I am tense. I am scared. I am anxious. But I know it is time to sleep. I need to try to function, take care of myself. I try everything to procrastinate, to push bed time further into the night. There is no way to avoid it. I am trembling, take off my clothes and go to bed. My body is tired but my mind is on high alert. I am little. I am scared. Sleep is not safe. I am not in control when I sleep. I try to fight it, the sleepiness. I drift off but jump almost out of bed when my partner starts snoring next to me. Someone will hurt me when I sleep. They will do things. I know they will. Sleep is not safe. I need to stay awake so I can fight or hide. I am so tense I am clenching my teeth. My hands are shaking. My body gives up and pulls me into sleep. I don’t want to. I am scared. I need to be in control.

This is every night of my life. Going to bed is a scary thing for me. It is related to my trauma. A lot of the abuse happened during nights. And I knew it would happen. So I often lied awake, waiting, anticipating. I heard the noises of the drunk men downstairs, my dad yelling. I knew it would happen. And that fear has stuck with me. It doesn’t matter if I logically know that I am in a safe space, that nothing can happen to me. That no one is going to hurt me. I switch into a little, and I am back in those moments of absolute fear. Sleeping medication and sedatives help with this, but I don’t always have access to those, actually, I barely do. So bed time is a moment of terror for me.

Sleep, eh?

Last night I got three hours of sleep. I have issues with sleep. It is not about the occasional bad night. I mean serious sleep issues with a fear to fall asleep, sleep paralysis, nightmares and insomnia. There are so many layers to this, so many reasons, and I have tried everything to resolve it. Sleeping medication helps but healthcare providers are quite restrictive with prescribing those, no matter how many mental illnesses you suffer from. So I am often stuck with failed attempts of sleep hygiene, routines and breathing exercises. Sleep is a scary thing for me, and bedtime is the worst moment of the day. I wonder what a good night’s sleep feels like.

Lyrics from “Tiny Monsters & Furry Creatures” by New Days Delay.

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September Song Project copyright mrsfever.com Erotic Breath Play BDSM

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22 Responses

  1. kisungura says:

    I’m so sorry that the time meant for rest and recuperation is so tainted for you DS, despite your best efforts, and that the fear remains. I experienced severe sleep deprivation for a couple of years a few years ago and it was torturous. I hate the ‘have you tried x, y, z’ but I read an interesting article recently on binaural beats and although I’ve not tried it

    • kisungura says:

      Oops, hit send too soon….I think there was something in there about sleep. I wish I could send you peace and deep rest. Thank you for sharing this DS x

      • I think when sleep deprivation is a constant, you don’t even realize how exhausted you are most of the time. But every now and then I stop and think: wait, why I am so tired and drained? Am I sick? And then I remember that I haven’t had a restful sleep in years and that must be it, lol. I am sorry to hear that you went through a long period of sleep deprivation too , it can really mess with one’s mind.
        I shall check up binaural beats, never heard of it before! Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  2. J. Lynn says:

    I can only imagine how hard this all must be. I have bouts of insomnia and have a hard time falling asleep but it is from a nerve disorder nothing traumatic. I wish it wasn’t so difficult for you to get the sleep medication you need. 😕

  3. Sweetgirl says:

    So sorry you go through this ❤

  4. May says:

    I do lay awake for hours – my mind says AWAKE and I may have only slept 3 or 4 hours. But I don’t think it is related to trauma as it does not scare me i just worry i will be too tired to be productive the next day. I really wish sleep was just a button u push on and set the timer for 8 hours. That would be nice x

    • I hate trying to be productive on only three hours of sleep. It is so easy to make small mistakes, I get irritated quicker and can’t focus well. Yeees, it would be nice if such a sleep button existed haha.

  5. Holy Shit!! I can relate to everything you say. I have bed time anxiety and have had it since I was a small child. Bed is where the bad things happened. That led to the night terrors that after 60 years have started to plague me again. I have suffered from insomnia for more than 60 years. I no longer have the sleep paralysis, but they were terrifying when they happened. I think mine was caused by a medication I was on too. I understand everything about what you said in this article.

    • Oh gosh, I am so sorry to hear that you can relate to my experiences. It is terrible when sleep is something scary and uncomfortable, and leaves us more exhausted than rested. That must be so confusing, for the night terrors to return, and frustrating because there is so little that can be done to stop them! Thank you so much for your comment, I feel less alone knowing that others can relate!

      • I’m sorry that we both have to be members of this club. I was surprised when the night terrors came back after all this time and just when I think I have a handle on why, it proves me wrong and I have to start over again.. I’ve gotten therapy, changed my diet, moved my bedroom to another room, bought a new bed, tried to change my attitude, wrote more about the trauma, but the terrors still persist. They haven’t gotten worse and in some ways, the terror part is less. but I just wish I could find a way to stop them.

        • I think it is literally about if things are processed or not, if tiny triggers (that we might not even be aware of) have happened and how life is in general. It really sounds like you have done everything humanely possible to take control of the night terrors. I am not one to suggest medication but there are some (like weak betablockers) that are known to have an effect on nightmares and such. I really hope that sleep will be a good thing instead of something frustrating, for you some time soon!

          • Thanks. I’ve tried all kinds of things from Ambien to Ativan and have finally agreed to try the Ativan again. I started using Melatonin and it helps somewhat. I think it’s just a matter of time before I finally face it completely and resolve it, or it all goes back in hiding again.

          • Melatonin doesn’t make any difference for me. I have taken Ativan on and off for years. it is just that doctors are always a tad reluctant with prescribing those. And to get off of them is always a struggle too. At the moment I take them once or twice a week, just to at least get some deep sleep in because otherwise my mind would just lose it! Well, processing the trauma would definitely lead to better sleep quality, I am sure, but processing is not something one can do in one afternoon. I wish it was that easy! I hope it will go back into hiding for you, as it has done before!

  6. jupitergrant says:

    This must be so awful. I suffer from insomnia, but nothing on your scale, and I find it difficult enough dealing with my little sleep problems. Kis mentioned binaural beats – worth a try. I’ve used them sometimes, just ones on YouTube though so a bit touch and go in terms of effectiveness. But sometimes they’ve helped. I wish I knew the secret to helping you to sleep comfortably. 💜

    • Thank you for your kind words! I looked it up and binaural beats don’t seem to be my thing. I would need a doctor who continously prescribe Zoplicone to me, the only medication that helps me, at least 80% of the time. But I don’t have a psychiatrist and GPs think you are an addict when you ask for specific meds. But hey, sleep is for the weak, at least I can see how brilliant my brain is at coping with a lack of sleep and still functioning, ha!

      • jupitergrant says:

        Yes, I know what you mean about trying to get Zopiclone. I use it when insomnia becomes too much, but given my mental health history, I sense a strong reticence in gps to give me any more than a few pills at a time. I guess I can understand that from their point of view, but for the patient, it’s very hard.

        You’re right, though, your brain is a marvel doing all it does, and coming up with such fantastic fiction and thoughtful non-fiction with so little sleep to keep it going. Fuck, if you actually did get a full night sleep, Deevie, you might be one of those super-genius villains like from “Heroes” or Marvel!! 😉😘

        • Yeah, same. They always assume I am going to use them to eff myself, or that I would take them too often and get addicted. While I think if they prescribe them to me for the rest of my life, we would never find out if I am addicted to them,, haha.
          And they are a bitch to get off of, meh. But at least they help me sleep!
          Haha, I guess we will never know what my brain would do if I got proper sleep every night. Maybe my insomnia is keeping me from being a genius, oh no :O 😛

  7. And medications can backfire. The doctor just prescribed Prazosin for me, which is a high blood pressure that is also used for PTSD patients to control nightmares and night terrors. But one of the rare side effects is that it TRIGGERS night terrors, which is exactly what it did for me. I took one dose, one pill, and I’ve had multiple nightmares and night terrors for the last two nights. They only stop when the sun comes up and then I can finally get some sleep. I was stunned that I reacted this way to this med, I’m exhausted and I’m livid that this is happening. I was just finally getting it pretty much under control. So you might be better off not taking anything.

    • Oh, medication can backfire big time. I used to take Propavan and together with Seroquel it gave me long-lasting neurological issues like random spasms and twitches in my legs, arms, throat and clit. I was even suggested to take Parkinson for that, very unfun!
      I am sorry to hear that the blood pressure meds did not work for you. I know they do for others who have issues with nightmares and such. It is so frustrating when side effects appear, especially if they are that paradoxal! Hopefully your doctor will come up with a better solution for you! And I hope you have gotten some good night’s sleep this weekend <3

      • I talked to the doctor and he said I was taking too little of the med and that was what had triggered the night terrors again and so badly. He said the normal dose is 3mg and I was taking just 1mg. So he said to double up to 2mg. I seems to be working, but I’m still having nightmares and I’m only sleeping during the day since one of my triggers for the night terrors is the dark. I’m trying to hope this will work.

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