Since I was up this morning far too early because of one, I thought today would be the perfect time to discuss my sleeping patterns post-accident and the “zombie dreams”.
No, they aren’t dreams filled with actual zombies (well, not all of them). In this case, the term refers to dreams where, once I wake, I feel like a member of the living dead. Typically, they are vivid, frantic, uncharacteristically harsh, involve a significant amount of crying (both in dream and in real), and I either wake up groggy and drenched in sweat, or else I’m ejected from sleep and acutely awake. In either case, nothing cures it like being held by my devilishly handsome husband*, but since he’s an army officer and gone many hours of the day, this cure is in short supply. The best I can often do is hug my teddy bear a little tighter and pet a cat, which usually calms me but isn’t enough to lure back into sleep.
*He insisted I write about him this week, and strongly suggested using this exact phrase.
How do these dreams impact my overall health? In any given week, my sleep patterns could look like the following: Monday – struggled to fall asleep and slept intermittently, totalling 13 hrs; Tuesday – slept soundly, 11 hrs; Wednesday – slept poorly, 8 hrs with 1 hr nap; Thursday – slept soundly, 8 hrs, woken by zombie dream; Friday – struggled to fall asleep and slept intermittently, 10hrs. As you can see, they are unpredictable in the extreme, and as such make it difficult for me to imagine doing something like working a steady 9-5 job again, at least not in the foreseeable future. Hell, they make it difficult for me to eat breakfast before noon sometimes.
My psychiatrist told me yesterday that it would be the anxiety medication that I would be taking longer than any others, and I can completely understand this. I have nearly overcome my depression due to the accident, but what remains is a hyper-aggressive vigilance and sometimes crippling periods of dealing with the loss of control. Both of these are huge factors in the zombie dreams. Unable to stop something from happening, being forceably removed from the presence of loved ones, and the inability to walk, stand, or climb stairs in order to achieve a goal – these are recurring themes. As far as Freudian analysis goes, it’s pretty cut and dried, but it doesn’t make it any easier to experience them. And when the dreams involving my inability to move are coupled with the sweaty, intense physical reaction that they produce, I often need to change my pyjamas in the middle of the night.
I have to admit that the zombie dreams have changed in content since the accident. Immediately after, while still in the hospital, I couldn’t sleep because I replayed the accident every time I closed my eyes. 6 months later, I was thankfully past that, but had moved on to being completely and utterly immobile in any dream I had. That was the period where I changed my pyjamas twice a night because the sweats were so bad. When the first anniversary went by, I was acknowledging in my dreams that I had been horribly handicapped and could move, but none of the other characters would ever believe me, forcing me to do things that I physically couldn’t. And now, 18 months down the line, my dream self has developed a temper and is taking her anger at being in this situation out on the people she loves most.
These next few weeks will be a test in itself, as MiniSir is off to Wainwright and I’m left to fend for myself against myself. If you see me posting randomly on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning, or find yourself unable to contact me around lunchtime, it’s probably because I’ve been zombified. Pay no attention; this, too, shall pass.