Night terrors

Night terrors are a type of intense nightmare involve extreme feet and often jolts of movement and moaning. They are a type of parasomnia like sleep walking.

Night terrors are often experienced by children who usually grow out of them. They have also been associated with trauma, especially for people with PTSD.

My night terrors were originally related to my home being broken into twice when I was little. These lasted for over two decades but we’re infrequent. Then, I had night terrors about being taken away by police, stripped naked by hospital security guards and restrained so I could be injected with something.

I also have night terrors related to my past delusions and hallucinations while psychotic. I had paranoia, strong beliefs I was being targeted by terrorists and a false memory of terrorists planting a bomb inside me. I have had a lot of therapy for my mood symptoms but not many psychiatrists and psychologists seem to engage with trauma. This is because it is difficult to process while you are acutely unwell and can retraumatise if not managed properly.

Some treatments I have tried are image rescripting and exposure therapy. Image rescripting involves remembering the trauma but then changing the story of what happened to something much more positive. Exposure therapy is very common for PTSD and involves gradually introducing things that remind you of your fears or trauma.

I was forced to go back to the hospital where I had a lot of trauma about police, security guards and memories of thinking the hospital had been hijacked by terrorists. It was a too intense form of exposure but I slowly became comfortable with the place again. When I passed the ward a few weeks ago I was angry about how I was treated but started to process my feelings and manage my distress.

My night terror last night was not about hospital which was a good change but the night terror was more severe then most other times. It started with a nightmare about a dangerous homeless person. When I woke up, I thought the homeless person was in the room and I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in before realising it was a dream.

If you have experienced trauma, contact Blue Knot or talk to a doctor to refer a psychologist specialising in trauma.

By the Mad Magpie.

July 3, 2018

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