I suffer from adult nightmares, as well as insomnia, they sort of tie in with each other.
Essentially, when the night comes, my anxiety levels peak and I have to deal with the same routine of battling my mind.
I am afraid to sleep, yet, depression tells me that I can’t do anything but sleep.
Why is mental health so complicated?
It started when I was only little, I can still feel the fear inside of my childhood body.
I would see things in the dark, in the shadows and in the shaping of the wallpaper that was peeling on the floor. I always felt watched and monitored.
I vividly recall a number of nightmares that I would have before the age of 7. I would often find myself lost, or trapped and would have to scream for my mother.
My body was battling serious levels of anxiety before I knew that such a word existed.
I struggled to find the difference between reality and what was just a dream, they both felt so real.
My father once told me: “Don’t worry, as you get older the nightmares will go, everyone goes through this”.
I so wanted to believe him, I wanted to have that reassurance that one day, I would be able to sleep in comfortable bliss.
I’m a grown ass woman now and in my 23rd year, I can tell you that I can’t recall a single night where I have not dealt with some form of nightmare.
It sounds silly to hear that a person wished to dream. A person wished to sleep so deeply and forget those nights.
If I had three wishes from a genie, I’d probably spend one of those wishes on a good nights sleep.
Many people don’t know what it’s like to be afraid to sleep.
I’m a lucid dreamer, so my dreams are very real. I never chose or practiced lucid dreaming, though some people do and I cannot fathom it.
I can see, feel, and taste everything inside of my subconscious, it’s a living nightmare.
What happens as I sleep, is as close to reality as when I am awake.
I’ve tried all sorts, from medication to medication. I’ve tried white noise and sounds that you’d find at your local spa.
Which is why I know that these nightmares are rooted in me.
The only change between my childhood and my adulthood, in terms of these horrible dreams, is that I am not as afraid. I’m so tired that I just don’t care how intimidating my subconscious will be.
What causes adult nightmares and night terrors? I am no doctor, but in my case, I assume it’s just to do with my childhood and the trauma that molded my mind.
When we dream, our minds get a chance to outlet, detox and find some space for the fresh and hopefully less nerve-wracking memories.
More importantly, though, it’s important we talk about these things.
Our dreams can contain a lot of clues and keys that can aid our recovery and tell us what we need.
While I have not yet found the off switch, and maybe I never will. I have learned to make the most of what I have, which includes said nightmares.
Making the most out of a negative situation is the best we can do, and the most rewarding when a ‘cure’ isn’t an option.
I can often tell when I am overworked, stressed or simply need to take a step back and re-evaluate what I need to adapt and focus on.
It allows me to manage and understand how I am doing in a mental aspect. Dream journals are perfect for this (if you remember to write in it first thing).
The best advice I can give you here is simply this, talk about your mental health, ask for support with your nightmares and try to write them down.
Do not, ever, bottle up your mental health.
Don’t be afraid to understand your thoughts and feelings in your subconscious.
Failing that, I’ve found coffee and cuddling small dogs to be pretty effective (but don’t take this as real advice).