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Only In My Nightmares

I am afraid to go to sleep at night, because of the horrifying things I see in my nightmares. Every traumatic event I've ever experienced is waiting for me when I close my eyes. Sometimes I'll stay up for hours, drinking copious amounts of caffeine, desperately trying to find things to keep myself distracted until my body eventually shuts down for the night.

Sometimes, I can go days without sleeping. I become a sort of zombie. I'm afraid of what I'll see when I drift off to the dream world. The monsters lurking in my brain during the day come out to play at night.

I hear things that aren't really there, like somebody opening my front door, footsteps in my hallway, or people messing around in my kitchen. I tell myself that what I'm hearing isn't real, my front door is locked, and I'm out of harm's way within the four walls of my own home. When I wake up from a terrorizing nightmare, I see someone asleep next to me, even though I live alone.

I cannot be touched by another human being without being sent into a state of panic. I avoid eye contact. I don't go to certain places. I don't wear specific clothes. Smells that remind me of scary situations overwhelm me. There are even certain things I can't drink. My guard is always up when I go out into public. I am hyperaware of anyone new I come into contact with.

So many things, that are normal to most, are a threat to me. Hospitals. Doctors. Men that are bigger than I am. I panic when I get on an airplane as there is no escape once the door is closed. I always have an escape route mapped out in my brain. I feel as though I live in a state of fight-or-flight.

I have cried at work because I have been triggered. I don't go to work anymore. I am weary of accepting certain jobs as I am afraid of who I might see. My sympathetic nervous system springs into action at the first sight or feeling of a trigger.

PTSD prevents me from feeling safe. There are always four brick walls around me no matter where I go or who I'm with. It has destroyed my relationships. It has burned bridges. It has ruined things for me, that I used to love.

My coping skills are rusty, but they get better every day. I am starting to get better sleep. The noises are quieter, and the things I see are fading. I know my past can't take away my power, even when it feels like I have very little left. I keep pushing, and I feel safer and safer each day I try. Recovery from trauma is possible, for everyone. You just have to be ready and willing to process it safely.

I'm rooting for you always,

Niamh Sullivan

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