Though sleep issues related to my attack are only one small piece of the post trauma – PTSD puzzle, it’s a huge hindrance when it comes to managing my life now. I have not had a normal night’s sleep since my attack.
I was attacked in the night, in the dark. Is it really questionable to some that I can’t sleep? I’m afraid of the dark. Actually, it’s not just the dark. It’s the noises in the dark. It’s the stillness of the dark. It’s the memories of what did happen, in the dark.
The first year post-attack, I left a trail of lights on wherever I went within my home. I needed my space to be fully illuminated. Still, in a fully illuminated environment, I was fearful and anxious. Having every light on was a coping mechanism that I depended on to survive.
Even the lights in my bedroom have remained on. Sleep was, and is not, sleep. In a fully lit bedroom, my body just shuts down, into what resembles sleep, to everyone else. But I do not sleep. I call it “shutting down”. I’ve only been able to shut down for an hour, hour and a half, two, two and a half hours. Coming to, the exhaustion was and still is present. There’s no feeling of being refreshed or rested.
Early on, I took the meds that I was prescribed, one of which was a sleeping pill. At that time, that’s what I needed because any form of “rest” was not going to happen naturally.
I’m off of sleeping pills (and all meds) and trying to manage more organically. With therapy and processing, and gradually over time, I’ve been able to turn some of the lights off. Now, when I lay down at night, I keep one light on. This one light never goes off.
3 ½ years of being sleep deprived, has left me beyond exhausted. I feel as though I am in “forever-jet-lagged-mode”. I’m desperate to sleep.