I've learned coping mechanisms for most if not all of these symptoms, much like a person with Crohn's Disease or Phenylketonuria (PKU) have learned to deal with their chronic conditions. The one symptom that vexes me most, and at times makes my life nearly unbearable is the poor sleep quality.
I do have nightmares, but not often. Those, while they suck are not the worst part. The worst part is being utterly exhausted and not being able to drift off to sleep. It's going to work and trying to function through the fog that envelops you because you kept waking up at night. It's fearing that the cumulative exhaustion will hit you while you're driving. It's not being able to think straight because you've gotten 6 hours of sleep in the past two days. I haven't even gotten to sleeping through alarms and missing work yet.
Sleep is my Achilles heel. As much as the old barracks saying goes "sleep is for the weak," lack of sleep will act like a hemorrhaging wound sapping your strength, and leaving you open for infection. It is maddening, like a buzz in the background that makes everything harder to do. Steps are slower, weight is heavier, and conversations are more difficult.
It's not like I haven't tried every trick in the book. I've tried medications, meditations, and a pretty much everything you can think of. The problem is that any of the zen/yoga type things get disrupted by life, and all the medications either don't work or have side effects that are unacceptable.
I've lived with this for almost 13 years now, sometimes it's so bad I think it will destroy my life. Other times I notice almost no effect, and can live my life much as I did before. Sometimes you can tell how tired I am and sometimes it's obvious that I'm suffering through with only a few hours of sleep.
I feel sorry for my romantic partners too. To say I toss and turn is an understatement. I've woken up some times with my sheets completely off my bed and a pillow kicked clear across the floor. Imagine worrying about kicking your significant other, or accidentally elbowing her. It seems even if I do not remember my dreams, they are wild ones.
Tonight I'll lay my head down. I'll try to sleep. I'm not optimistic that I'll get to sleep at a reasonable time. I'm even less optimistic that I'll wake up rested. This is my life, and I'll just have to deal. Good night, I'm off to sleep, perchance to dream.
I can't imagine living with PTSD. You are strong, very strong and I'm praying for you. God bless.
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