Sleep, one of life’s essentials apparently.Sleep, supposedly, is our friend. The way people talk about looking forward to a good night’s sleep, the pleasure of getting between crisp, clean sheets. Regular readers of this blog will now that insomnia is pretty much a constant for me. Ironically many readers probably find themselves drifting of whilst reading all this nonsense I write. I haven’t slept properly since about 1993. The degree of insomnia varies but it is always there in some way. It is always at its worst when PTSD rears it’s ugly head.
Sleep is no real friend of mine. It is to fickle, too often absent to be a friend. Oh, I wait for it to visit. I get towards the end of a day and I am physically and mentally wiped out, exhausted and desperate for the sandman to visit. Some nights I am so completely burnt out, so unable to function through tiredness that it seems impossible that I won’t sleep. And yet, that’s what happens. I lie awake and sleep just doesn’t come.
I have learnt to live with the regular insomnia I have. The day-to-day lack of sleep. Living with the raging insomnia that accompanies episodes of PTSD starts to become impossible to live with. You just don’t get enough sleep to carry pretending to function in any normal way. It’s easy to see why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. You lose your ability to cope, physically and emotionally. Simple decisions become impossible, minor set backs become devastatingly upsetting, you can’t think straight, you forget what you were saying halfway through sentences. Basically you cease to function.
And worst of all? When eventually your body and mind is so shattered you eventually fall into some sort of sleep. After a short time you experience a PTSD related nightmare. You awake full of the memories and images and as often as not experience a night terror. All too often this then bleeds into flashbacks over the course of the following days. This, of course, is the reason why you don’t sleep. Somewhere, something i your brain won’t let you. It is keeping you awake, ready to deal with the terror it believes is actually, genuinely present.
I am now, once again on a short course of sleeping tablets to help me deal with the immediate acute episode. They don’t work. I take them as instructed and I stay awake. And then you can add the drug hangover to the general fatigue the next day. That is how strong those dark reaches of the brain are.
This has so much to do with the suicide ideation that frequently comes with PTSD. You crave sleep, you need to embrace sleep. Even if that means never waking again.