I have had night terrors my entire life. They say you outgrow this when you hit adulthood.
I think they lie.
Or I’m just abnormal.
It’s probably the later.
You have to promise not to laugh if I tell you the nightmare I had as a child because it really does sound ridiculous if you say it out loud during the daytime when the sun is shining.
My nightmare I had when I was young would replay over and over again and to me, as a child, it was terrifying.
Remember the video game Donkey Kong? My nightmare was similar to that with a live crazy rabid terrifying gorilla. I was 8, work with me here.
The nightmare always took place in this old falling down amityville style house with what seemed like unlimited floors. My family was somewhere in the house, I knew this, but I could never find them. All I knew was I had to save them.
This gorilla would chase me through the house and every step I took, the floor would fall through on me. Then the gorilla would fall through after me. I’m talking rabid gorilla, foaming at the mouth, roaring, gonna kill me gorilla.
That was the whole nightmare. Night after night, floor after floor, this gorilla was chasing me. For years.
Then my fears must have changed because my nightmares changed. There are two main ones and one other one that occurred that I will never forget.
The two nightmares that I always have are:
When I am having these nightmares, people have learned not to wake me up because I wake up swinging. When I do wake up, I can’t tell the difference between reality and what is a dream. I have trouble breathing and feel like I am having a heart attack combined with an asthma attack. I shake and have tears rolling for at least 10 minutes after I wake up. I guess that is about how long it takes my brain to catch up with me waking up.
Needless to say, I have a very unnatural fear of snakes.
Pato stays up a lot later than I do, and he can tell when I’m having one of these dreams from 3 rooms away. He comes in and wakes me up from across the room, then works me through it. He tries to assure me that it was just a dream and sits there holding me until I feel I can safely go back to sleep again.
I had a breakthrough on the snake dream a few months ago. I had an image of the snakes covering me when I was awake and started shaking and tears started rolling. Then, without me thinking about it, don’t laugh, it sounds strange, I know, the biggest snake turned into a pink snake with one of those bunny ear headbands on. Stupid, I know, but it worked. Whenever I think about a snake now, that pops in my head. I don’t react like I used to and I haven’t had a snake nightmare since.
Now, I haven’t seen a real live snake since then, but hopefully I wouldn’t have a full blown panic attack now if I did.
I had another breakthrough last night.
The dream started where I felt like someone evil had walked into my room. I woke up. No panic, I immediately knew it was a dream and I was fine.
This morning I woke up and realized what had happened and, you might not understand if you haven’t lived with 30+ years of night terror, I was amazed. Completely amazed that I was able to differentiate between dream and reality so quickly.
Kind of made my day.
You may wonder, if you’ve read my blog forever, how with night terror, I manage to sleep in a family bed when the kids are younger.
I don’t know. I don’t think I ever fall into a deep sleep when I know one of the kids are in the bed. I have never had a nightmare with one of the kids sleeping by me. I also never feel rested and am constantly exhausted. If one of the kids are in the bed, I wake up when Pato rolls over. It’s how I have always been.
When the kids sleep with me, my nightmares normally occur in the early part of my sleeping. I think my brain knows even when I am sleeping that Pato has one of them sleeping beside him on the couch. When they were babies, I would hand them off to him when he would get home and go get a couple of hours of sleep until they needed to nurse again, they’d stay in my bed the rest of the night, and that’s when I was safe in sleep, but sleeping too lightly to really get a good night’s rest.
I just talked to my sister about this post while I was typing it up, and it turns out she has dealt with the same thing her whole life, and it continued on into her adult life too.
How many of you have night terror, or your kids have night terror? How do you deal with it, how do you help yourself or your child? I remember my mom rubbing my back until I fell back to sleep.
Whatever is happening to me, I’m grateful. It truly is horrible to be afraid to fall asleep and to wake up to that kind of terror.
Have a wonderful day!