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another sleepless night.. 
7th-Oct-2008 02:58 am
be free, beatles

Sometimes I'm so angry I could scream. I just want to SLEEP. It's 3:15 in the morning and I'm supposed to wake up at 6:45 to get ready for clinic. The relaxation technique my last therapist taught me doesn't seem to work much these days. And ever since therapy has started again for me, things have just gotten worse. But I guess things have to get worse before they can get better, right?
Does anyone have anything special they do before bed to calm themselves down and just relax? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have been really freaking out about my career choice. I know I've discussed this already, but it's just a constant thought with me. But I guess I should look on the positive side and see how well I've done with all the other patients we've seen.

I am happy some days but others are just horrible. I feel so whiny when I think about this. Generally, I'm okay, I just feel so internally screwed up. I have been much more irritable lately. To a point that I have never felt in my life. It's strange.

Frequently I space out, especially when someone is happening that I know will cause me anxiety. Do others have this problem? Is this kind of what disassociating is?

Thanks for being there for me community. You guys really are great :o)
7th-Oct-2008 10:02 am (UTC)
Spacing out is a type is dissociation, yes. It's not uncommon. Dissociation is a spectrum, and everybody does at least a little bit of it, with daydreaming and highway hypnosis being some common examples. More intense types of dissociation are often seen in people who have survived trauma. It usually happens in a way associated with protecting the person from further trauma - like what you mention, starting to space out when you're faced with something that makes you anxious. To work against dissociation, ground yourself in reality by connecting to your physical senses - tuning in to what you hear, what you see, etc.

If you're more irritable, maybe you're building up anger over something from your past that the therapy is bringing up. If that's true, the anger should lessen after you get whatever it is into the conscious part of your brain and process it.

Sorry to hear about the sleepless night. Frankly, one thing that I find helps me sleep is masturbating. It relieves tension.
7th-Oct-2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
As whirlwitch said, dissociation ranges from mild to severe. Sometimes, it's just the act of spacing out when you're anxious, yes. I personally experience something a little more profound - forgetting what day/time it is, not recognizing my face in the mirror, unable to feel pain, etc. It's just a coping mechanism - your mind splitting off because it's overwhelmed by trauma.

As for sleep, I tend to try and go through a ritual each night - take a warm shower, have some tea, make sure my bed is made/comfy, etc. It kind of helps in a conditioning way - you do these things and subconciously realise, "this is the sleep time!"

I'm a big fan of pre-bed knitting; something about the repetitive, thoughtless activity prepares my mind to sleep. I've also heard that a lot of people lay in bed and try to think of happy, mundane images - vacation spots, playing with their dog, etc. And there's the "20 minute limit" - after 20 minutes of not sleeping, get up and do something boring until you feel tired again. It stops you from stressing out in bed

These things work variably with me, of course. But hopefully they'll help you? I hope you feel better soon. <33
7th-Oct-2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only nighttime knitter! I do find it very soothing. Lately I hardly sleep at all, so I have a ton of hats.
7th-Oct-2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
Haha, me too! Pretty much everyone I know is getting a scarf for Christmas.
7th-Oct-2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Therapy is hard when it stirs things up. I know how that feels. And it makes it so you can't sleep, and then the sleep deprivation makes it harder to deal with life. It's a vicious cycle.

I know the spacing out for me is a dissociative symptom. The thing about dissociation, though, is that everyone does it to some extent. Getting caught in a daydream, running on autopilot...those are forms of dissociation. It's when it interferes with your ability to function that it becomes problematic.

I hope you get some sleep. *safe hugs* if you want them.
7th-Oct-2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
considering what you've been through, i think it's only fair that you're allowed to have your down days. i space out very often myself, and yeah, it's a type of dissociation. i also have even more trouble sleeping when i am very upset or stressed. i usually drink some tea and listen to some calming music (obviously everyone has different tastes, but i really like nick drake, especially his album pink moon.)

also, it seems like you already know a good way to deal with these upsetting feelings. remind yourself that you have done great things in your career (i'm guessing you're a nurse?), and that you are still going despite what happened to you. is it possible to take a short break and walk around outside when you start feeling your worst? personally the sun or the wind usually wake me back up when i have a lot of problems spacing out.

i go through really irritable phases as well from time to time, and it's really awful. exercising (especially kickboxing) has helped me so far.
7th-Oct-2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Spacing out is a form of dissociation, for sure. It's something I've lived with since I was a child, so I understand your frustration in having to deal with it.

I'm also an insomniac. The best thing, for me, in relaxing before bedtime is a bedtime routine. For me it means brushing my teeth, making sure I have a glass full of water near the bed, and putting lotion on my feet, legs, and arms. I also listen to books on tape (the Harry Potter series) so I have something to focus on instead of racing thoughts.

A bedtime routine can help train the body to associate the routine with bedtime, and bedtime with sleeping. It helps shut my brain down enough that even on the nights I struggle to sleep, I can still at least rest.

Therapy making you feel worse for a while is 100% normal and means good things are happening. Just like with a wound that gets infected, you've got to clean out all the junk first - and it hurts like hell - but once you've got stuff cleaned out, you can heal up properly.

Try to think of therapy as a spiral rather than a straight line - the first time through all the memories, it's huge and overwhelming and horrible. You'll make it through a processing cycle, and you'll have to start over again, but this time it's a bit smaller, and you'll get a new layer. Each time gets less intense, and each time you're more fully healed.
7th-Oct-2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Repetitive activities can help you to relax ... knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, etc. Personally, I have a little bedtime routine that helps me. I spray my sheets and pillows with vanilla spray right before I go to to bed. I also have an angel figurine on my bedside table. I always make sure to tap the angel on her head before I turn off my lamp.
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