last van nachtmerries

Everyone has them from time to time: nightmares. Often it is just a nightmare every once in a night, it wakes you up, but you turn around and fall a sleep again. But what do you do when these nightmares return night after night? And you are not able to wake up when it becomes very scary, like “normal” people, but live through the whole nightmare?

The problem

When did it start? I do not dare to say specifically. The nightmares were suddenly there. For four months I woke up every night of the vigorous images that appeared when I was sleeping. Often I could not remember what I had dreamed, but I still felt the fear in my whole body. After a few months, they would disappear, and I would sleep normal again.

After half a year, it started again. This time it lasted for eight months. Night after night the most dreary nightmares. I dreamed about how I jumped into the water and could not swim… I drowned and I only woke up when I almost lost consciousness under water in this dream. Shots in the middle of the street and during the runaway I got shot 2 times in my back. I do not know how gunshots really feel it, but for 3 days I felt the bullets ticking in my back.

In addition to the violent nightmares, I also dreamed about my family. But then about total panic because they no longer recognized me. They walked right passed me on the street, or picked up another child from school instead of me? I was so tired and slept so badly that I got medication. That helped a couple of nights, but after a while I did not really wake up during a nightmare anymore and when I woke up the next morning I was completely covered in sweat, with a lot of fear in my body. So I stopped using this medication quite fast, I could not handle waking up like that in the morning either!

Sleepless nights

After three months without nightmares, it started again. This time I did not want to sleep anymore, I would stay up as long as possible until I really could not stay awake anymore. This happened just before my burnout. Usually I did not remember them, but with the therapy I wanted to do something about it. So I put a notepad next to my bed, so I could write when I woke up.

All I could remember, I put on paper, even though I felt embarrassed. I took this notebook to therapy, so we could figure out where the nightmares came from. I desperately wanted to find out, because I did not understand anything about the situation.  The nightmares were never about reliving my traumas and there were never 2 similar ones. So why did I dream about all this?

Fortunately, there appeared to be a very good explanation for my nightmares. A red thread that I could see straight through everything. Afraid of losing the people around me, I do not want to fail in the things I’m in doubt about, things like being afraid to not be good enough for others. As soon as I realized this, a world opened for me. In my opinion, there are no deep, bizarre theories behind dreams and nightmares. But, in fact, they are very logical, if you do not take them too literally. I still have nightmares. Fortunately, I’m waking up soon or my boyfriend wakes me up. Then I turn around and fall asleep almost immediately. Exceptions aside, of course.

What you can do about your nightmares

Do you also suffer from nightmares? Think about what you are afraid of and talk about. Your dreams are nothing to be ashamed of. Write down what happened in the nightmare you just had, but do not go and write obsessively every night. Believe me, that does not help: you will sleep worse, I did this for a week or four and my sleep did not get any better.

Does your daily life suffer because of your nightmares? Go to the GP! This way you can talk about it and the doctor will help you find solutions to get a better night’s sleep.

The song I have chosen this time is: Wake She Up from Ed Sheeran. I think it’s a wonderful song to fall asleep to and have a nice dream! Especially when you wake up and your dream lies next to you. Try to turn everything into something positive!


Love, Renée

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Expert in PTSD, burnout, personality disorders and eating disorder. Even if I only help one person by sharing my story, I am happy!

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