To combat my insomnia, I take a little sleep aid, but while it does help me get some bouts of sleep in an otherwise sleepless night, I find my nightmares to be more graphic, realistic, and upsetting. Lately, it seems that my dream self is desperately trying to wake my actual sleeping self to prove that the horror experienced in my nightmare is indeed just a dream and that I need to wake up to free myself from it.
In the dreams, I’m usually being chocked and I try to scream and shake my own body from its slumber, but I often can’t. When I do succeed, I wake up gasping for air and have to stifle my tears. I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually having some degree of physical issue occurring when this happens. Whenever I wake up from these particularly vivid dreams, I’m on my back. I never voluntarily choose to sleep on my back because I find it uncomfortable, but maybe something is happening in that position that compromises my breathing when tossing and turning does land me on my back.
Essentially, I’m unsure whether the cause of the dreams is solely psychological or if there is a physical component I’m experiencing in real life that triggers my sleeping mind to have some sort of choking dream situation. A couple of times, I’ve awoken to the mishmash of fleecy blankets I sleep with tangled around my head, but that seems to be a rare occurrence rather than the rule.
It’s likely that some contribution to this disturbing pattern is psychological and a product of PTSD. Although I was not choked during my attack, I was supine on the floor and threatened into silence by a back of a knife blade pressing against (but not into) my throat. Because the dream sequence nearly always follows that I’m trying to scream but I can’t, it harkens back to that traumatic memory when I so desperately wanted to scream but could not.
As mentioned, the other thing that happens in the dream is that my dream self seems convinced, at some point, that it’s just a bad dream and tries to wake up to prove it. I even say in my head in the dream sometimes, “this has to be a nightmare; if you can wake up now, you’ll prove this is fake.” That’s when I begin trying to scream or even pinch myself. I’ve woken up before pinching my forearm skin. Sometimes the attempt to rouse myself is so unsuccessful that I start to panic in the dream that it must not be a dream. When I finally wake up from the struggle, I’m breathless and distraught and virtually unable to calm myself back to sleep out of fear for such a terrifying reoccurrence.
I’m looking forward to the day that I either need less sleep medicine or otherwise have fewer entrapping nightmares. For the time being, I do my best to suffer through them and wake up relieved and grateful that my real life is not tortured. Then, I read increasingly light novels and try to get swept away in the easy breezy lives of fictitious characters, counting down the hours until dawn.