I’ve heard “positive vibes” statements that go something along the lines of, “Every day you wake up is a good day.” I disagree, because PTSD causes my waking up to sometimes be horrifyingly bad.
I tend to go through about three different sleep cycles, depending on my stress levels, how we’ll I’m managing symptoms and the gaping void of “I have no idea”. Sometimes I sleep what feels like a “normal” 7.5 hours a night, fall asleep fairly easily, wake up and get up with my alarm without much trouble and go about my day without thinking much about my sleep. Sometimes, probably the rarest occurrence, I have a lot of energy, sleep more like 6 hours a night, bounce out of bed early, get a lot done and feel pretty good about things. Other than unusually short sleep times for me, which I find odd, things are good.
Sometimes, as now, I sleep 9-11 hours a night, have trouble falling and staying asleep, wake up to a panic attack or worse, know that I’m not doing well, struggle through the day, have disturbing dreams and can pretty much kiss any plans for early morning activity I have goodbye, because it won’t happen, I will sleep as long as I sleep and I will not wake up to an alarm, or several alarms.
The length of these various sleep cycles varies, and I haven’t paid enough attention to track them, only to be able to identify them. And since I’m in a long-sleep cycle which has gone from bad to worse, I’m really paying attention now.
I woke up the first time this morning around 6, already dissociating to the point that I left my body. That is a really rare occurrence for me, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had the feeling of leaving my body. I haven’t dissociated much in the last year at least, so waking up to the sensation was really disturbing. I worked to get back to being present, calm down, try to process and breathe in the early morning dark, but it was rough.
And the whole time I was also having to face that any and all plans that I had been making for the weekend were not going to happen, because if this is what I was experiencing, I was much more unwell than I’d realized. For at least half an hour I played out the mental battle of bringing myself back to reality and letting go what I had wanted to do today.
I wanted to get up early, head to the bakery for iced coffee and a pastry (things I love), spend about 6 hours finishing up a project for work so that I could have it cleared off my desk ahead of next week, do yoga and relax in the evening or maybe work on a quilt project I’ve decided to take back up.
But coffee and pastry is caffeine and sugar, and there was no way I could go from dissociating to ingesting stimulants without probably needing medication. I haven’t been on any medications for anxiety or depression for a year and a half, and I would like to keep it that way, hard as it sometimes is. So no bakery, no early morning out and about while town is still and quiet, no work, and I knew I needed to go back to sleep to see if a few more hours would let my brain reset from its disturbed state.
Four hours later waking up was a much more pleasant experience, although I still feel unwell and not up to anything that looks like a productive day. I vaguely remember taking notes on my thoughts sometimes in the night – I’ll occasionally get really good ideas or narratives for writing when I’m not in a place to write it all out, and I’ll make short notes on my phone to try to capture the ideas well enough to remember them. The thoughts are like bursts that dissipate and don’t return most of the time, and all I remember is that I had a really great thought with the frustration of not being able to follow up.
PTSD sucks, if I haven’t mentioned that.