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Waking up each morning with stress cup overflowing vastly and disoriented


I've had big problems with sleep ever since childhood trauma started. I used to lay awake as a little kid, in absolute panic, way beyond midnight and only falling asleep when my brain/ body were literally so exhausted from the panic that I'd drop into a coma-like sleep.

Then I'd get woken up in the morning after only a few hours sleep, I'd be totally sleep-deprived and the next day of trauma would begin, with me totally unequipped to deal with it and waking up in a panic feeling totally overwhelmed.

This pattern has continued throughout my life.

I don't remember my dreams, so I've no idea what happens at night. I know that my sleep feels very heavy and comatose and I know from my dentist that I clench my teeth something crazy at night, so much so that my jaw bone has changed over the years and you can see the effects of intense jaw clenching on xrays.

I wake up each morning feeling dazed and confused, unsure of where I am and who I am and what day of the week it is, but with anxiety coming online straight away and my PTSD stress cup overflowing wildly before I even know what's going on.

It makes every morning a misery and I struggle hugely to wake up enough to work out what coping skills I need to get into place to try and deal with this mess first thing each morning.

One coping skill that often works is trying to go back to sleep immediately (ie. total avoidance) and sinking back into comatose sleep and ignoring the whole day and just turning my brain off using sleep. But that's obviously a quite maladaptive coping strategy because a) I don't get anything done, b) it doesn't solve the problem and c) over-sleeping comes with health problems of its own (lack of exercise, a tendency to increase depression symptoms, etc.)

I've no idea how to break free of this stupid cycle which has gone on for decades and decades.

How on earth can I get a strong enough skill-set to kick in the moment I wake up to counteract the panic/ stress cup overflowing thing the moment I regain consciousness?
I relate to waking up in a panic-like state of mind. From trauma, I guess my brain isn't able to settle down and calm down.
I relate too. I asked my trauma therapist about it, and she said it was probably my brain processing while I was sleeping then not fully getting it done before I woke up.
I've been off and on Prozac for years but have stayed off it for over a year now hoping to use other therapies to manage symptoms. However I'm increasingly feeling I'd rather " not feel" which prozac does to me ,than live like I am longing for sleep time to come so I'm " offline ' from my real life. Now waking up with panic and anxiety is ruining things even more .
How on earth can I get a strong enough skill-set to kick in the moment I wake up to counteract the panic/ stress cup overflowing thing the moment I regain consciousness?
please let me know if you find a comprehensive method of accomplishing this herculean task. one of the therapy assignments i received and completed way back in the last millennium was, "a wish diorama." i am artsy enough that the therapist put my wish diorama on display in the clinic waiting room. the placards in my wish diorama were too small to hold much verbage, so i summarized this particular wish as, "THE CURE."

THE CURE has yet to present, so? ? ? might as well give radical acceptance and mindfulness a try. still trying. . . still taking my proverbial stress cup one drop at a time.

please let me know if you find an easier, more comprehensive method. i'm still wishing. . .
I almost always wake up in a panic or greatly disturbed from a nightmare or bad dream. I've learned to immediately reach for my cat and gaze at the framed photos of my children and grandchildren. The instant reminder that everything is okay right now and my life is blessed usually calms me down.
Thanks for your responses - grateful to know I'm not the only one! ☺️

I've been focussing on this issue this week and it is helping a bit to really be aware that yes, this is going to happen tomorrow morning too and the day after that and the day after that and to start getting more prepared for it.

So far I've felt kind of helpless with it and muddled through as best I could and not known what else to do about it.

I'm trying to remind myself each morning that this is yet another unfortunate PTSD symptom and that I need to develop enough coping skills to deal with it so that it becomes "manageable enough on most days". I know it probably will never go away entirely, but if I can get the messiness and fallout to reduce to the point where it's not majorly messing with my days, then that will be a big relief/ make a big change to the quality of my life.

I'm finding that it's important what kind of self-talk I do around it each morning - viewing it as a really difficult PTSD symptom, rather than as a personal failure or weakness that I'm this messed up in the mornings.

As I work out strateties and work-arounds that are helpful, I'll try and post them here.

I'd love to hear what things others are trying that are affected by it and to hear what works in practice, not in theory.
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Sleep with a comforting item and guided relaxation upon waking. My adult child gave me a stuffed animal. Seeing that first thing upon waking up reorients my thinking creating a sense of safety. I usually futz around the apartment for 20 or 30 minutes after waking allowing the sheets to cool. May or may not take medical marijuana (for combined chronic pain and PTSD) which probably helps focus on physical sensation. Then I hop back in bed under the sheets, hold the stuffed animal, and get lost in the sensation of the cool sheets on skin. Thirty minutes later, I feel grounded and centered. The marijuana probably plays a role but it feels like a novel sensation experienced for the very first time, every time. It feels like being greeted by a gentle and safe world at the outset of a new day. I'm curious to learn what works for everyone.
How after waking up? I feel I’d fall asleep?
Pick your session carefully. There are guided relaxations for more situations and listeners than you could imagine.

A morning wakeup/rejuvenating/energising relaxation session shouldn’t put you to sleep. Would be more like a vinyasa yoga session, leaving you feel calm but energised.

But yeah, a session before sleep, designed to help you sleep? Potentially just as helpful. I do one most nights, and have done for years now. Delaying sleep by 20 minutes pays dividends given I need to constantly manage my stress levels to break even.
So, this happened again today... For the first time in weeks, so I wasn't expecting it... The day was pretty miserable... I've scrambled to sort of muddle through it as best I could, cancelling a bunch of stuff... I really hope I sleep better tonight... I've got a bunch of stuff I can't cancel to tomorrow and that I need to be in reasonable shape for... Ugh... I wish I knew why this happens or what I could do to prevent/ change it... It's a mystery to me...