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Constantly having dreams and nightmares about my abusive ex

Owlfox

Policy Enforcement
Hi everyone, I have CPTSD and right after high school I landed myself in an abusive relationship. I've been having near constant nightmares/normal dreams about my abusive ex that I want nothing to do with, and it's really making me dread sleeping. I caught myself staying up until 3am last night because I just didn't want to deal with this in my dreams.

I'm on medication for nightmares, but it seems that I'm constantly having nightmares about being with my ex again. I'm not sure how to deal with it because it honestly feels like I'm still in the relationship with him from how often this has been happening.

I used to be very good at lucid dreaming but lately I feel like I'm trapped in these dreams. Sometimes I have a nightmare that will last for 3+ nights, picking up where I woke up last time I was dreaming about it.

If I'm not dreaming about my abusive ex, it's abusive family. These dreams make me not want to go to sleep, and sometimes I can't sleep when they're bad unless it's during the day time. I hate this so much. Is there anything I can do about it? It seems no matter what, they just happen.
 
All of this is pretty par for the course for a lot of us with PTSD, unfortunately. I had nightmares about my ex off and on for more than a decade. When I'm under a lot of stress in my life, I can still get them.

Not being able to sleep at all isn't good and may be indicative that it's time to change medications, since your current one appears to have reach its limit of usefulness. Time to make an appointment with your pdoc.
 
I watch kids, like little kids, cartoons and tv shows while falling asleep.
Doesn't always work but it works better than any med or supplement I've ever tried.

Also I surround my sleeping area with things that I didn't have.... so first things i can see when i open my eyes from nightmares help remind me I'm not really there. I can also use them to ground myself faster from evil dreams and not always slip into a flashback almost immediately after waking up.
Again, doesn't always work but some is better than none.
 
Blargh. Hate it when my brain is busy processing all day AND all night. It’s just like, Yo! Give it a rest! Literally!!! 💤

The single best trick I ever learned with nightmares? Is the same trick I learned about panic attacks… don’t care. Divorce my emotions from the equation. Being afraid of being afraid? Angry about being angry? Just eats up even moooore of my time, makes everything take longer, makes hard things harder, & helps nada. But if I can stop caring? Voila! Acres of headspace & time to put to good use.

Like most things, that’s easier said, than done.

But what it looks like? Is this:

When I’m in a nightmare run, I look at what …besides the nightmare… is f*cking me up. And there’s always something, often several somethings. So? I go after those. Most of them? Involve not getting enough sleep in various ways.

1. Waking up drenched in sweat/swear?
- Triple/Quad sheet my bed. Mattress protector, sheet; mattress protector, sheet; etc.
- BOLT awake! (Roll eyes). Get out of bed, pulling off the top 2 layers (MP & Sheet), walk to washing machine. Drop sheets in, skim out of clothes & leave in pile in front of machine, walk buck nekkid to the shower, rinse off all the sweat (and fight/flight chemicals & pheromones off my skin), dry off, skim into new clothes, slide into warm/DRY sheets.
- Back to sleep
= Total Elapsed Time APX 2 minutes. Most of it in the shower.

2. Can’t fight anything IRL, so now I’m fighting sleep?
- I usually change my bedtime to daytime. Which DOES mean changing my daytime schedule around to accomodate. But? For whatever reason, sleeping in the sunshine doesn’t banish my nightmares, but it does mean I’m not up half the night, anxiety rising the longer I’m up, about both the nightmares AND missed sleep AND my day tomorrow. IDFK WHY I’m not as stressed about daytime nightmares & lost sleep, as nighttime nightmares and lost sleep, but I’m simply not. I also only need about 2/3s of the sleep in the daytime, thay I need at night, to feel refreshed/rested/awake & ready to seize the day.

3. Sensory Tricks… give my brain something to play with while I’m sleeping, instead of chasing down every dark alley, because it’s bored… or is trying to keep me “safe” by exploring every possible option, no matter how improbable.
- Music directs my mood when awake, as well as tends to set the “current” whilst sleeping.
- Putting on perfume, or mens deodorant/cologne (if I’m lonely), or using alternating essential oil diffusers (I’m particularly fond of eucalyptus, lavender, cedar, spices, & sandalwood… NOT together! Lol. Individually). Whilst awake I prefer subtle & complex blends, but the purity of a smell IDFK WHY -again- gives me something to focus on, both IN my sleep, and as I’m doing the sweat/swear/shower/sheets thing

^^^^ ALL OF THESE ^^^^ (and many, many more) are a result of my stopping “caring” about my nightmares, and starting to be “curious” about them… and trying different things. Not to make them stop (because I have also done that, and that doesn’t work) but to make them impact me/ my day / my sleep… less. And often? Not impact at ALL. Find where I’m having trouble, and? Start PLAYING. Experimenting. Taking a step “back” lets me actually get excited about something that is going to suck, and I know it; rather than snowballing dread.
 
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