To sleep- perchance to – PTSD

October 26, 2010 at 11:36 am 7 comments


The stuff dreams are made of………….

Apart from a few days in Texas I have not slept properly since that terrible day in February 2008, when a phone call started the silent screaming.

I was told once that dreams are the way your brain tries to make sense of your day, your thoughts, life circumstances and to put them in some sort of order so they can be “filed” . There are times that upon waking you ask

Did I dream that or did that actually happen?



My poor brain is having a terrible time trying to make sense of my thoughts , flash backs, trigger memories and life happenings. I have, during my waking hours, been unable to make sense of what has happened , trying to make sense of it when sleeping is just not happening.

My brain tries nightly to file , it puts together stories only to find the body responding badly . The brain is supposed to be in control, but there is a usurper stronger than the brain – it is my grief . The body, far from resting, is pummelled hourly by a sound bites of life and experiences, thoughts and fears.

Try as it might the brain is furiously trying to sort, file and catalogue so the body can heal with sleep.

The brain tries to categorize my son and his place in this netherworld of real and what is not real. The brain once more gives him a voice I can no longer hear when awake, a form , a dimension, a story line that is supposed to make some sort of sense,to bring some order to the disorder.

Bits and pieces of the day , a boat seen on a television program, the sound of an F150 truck starting up in a parking lot , a conversation , people and events encountered or thought of , longing , triggers all go into making up the “to be filed “ but try as the brain might the stories cause the body to once more wake to save itself.

Far from relief or rest , the jumbled images of life, dying, longing and anger are too much and the body wakes from one nightmare to another.

It seems my brain has divided into two parts upon waking . I can access “files of life” before that December 3rd day, I carry them with me they are scanning , flipping sorted through like some Rolodex file on steroids, the rest of my brain seems to be on remote pause .
<

I now know you can be in two places at the same time. As my husband , mother watch as I walk to the refrigerator , opening the door , grabbing the bottle of cranberry juice little do they realize I am actually a couple of thousand of miles away and in 2009 not 2010 in another kitchen in Texas , opening a refrigerator door getting another bottle of juice.

Chris in that dreadful college apartment
I have discovered I can live simultaneously in the past and present . The ordinary things in everyday life can be a time machine – bagging the kitchen garbage instantly transports me back to the parking garage of last October and Chris throwing the Texas trash into the garbage chute . I watch my son as I wait by the car with the Purell . He walks once more toward me, his smile and then I am instantaneously in his dreadful college apartment – a kitchen less than desirable for a meal – so to sharing lunch in Little Italy.

These journeys take but a millisecond and to the watcher – they are unaware I have left- it is so quick, they have not missed me .

My husband opening a can of creamed corn sent me reeling back to the Bone Marrow Unit at the Cleveland Clinic as they pumped back into his body his stem cells . The preservative in the cells smelled exactly like creamed corn.

And yet to the onlooker I am in my kitchen doing mundane things being normal????????? BUT the truth be known there is only part of me , like a substantive shadow that lingers in this world, going through the motions.

The researcher that was me and why is this happening part of my brain wants the reasoning for why I am no longer me- and on this journey I find I am no longer Tourjour Moi . I have SOME ( not all) symptoms of PTSD -
http://www.medicinenet.com/posttraumatic_stress_disorder/page4.htm

” Time to get help they cry”- “Time to get on with life -“Time will heal” TIME…….


yes TIME but time is exactly what I am dealing with……… my brain on drugs just makes the travel hazy- the time travel is still there – I know the why it is happening. I know why my brain is trying so hard- I know the help and resources available – but the journeys continue as the Gorilla of Grief is my pilot and the IT is my vehicle

You never know what dreams may come………………………….

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Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, death, grief, Mothers, personal opinion. Tags: , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mary  |  October 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I had dreams of my brother, Sean. The first dream was actually a nightmare! I could see him but his mouth was stitched shut and he seemed so distressed like he was trying to tell me something. I was inconsolable and didn’t sleep for three days. My darling husband, who had never dealt with anything like this himself, was so patient and loving. He still is until today, even though he has nothing to equate this to, by his own admission. Then several months later, I had another dream and it was me and Sean in a gorgeous loft apartment with lovely hardwood floors. He looked so healthy and happy and even though he didn’t speak, it was like we could still communicate. I cherish the memory of that dream. I knew then that he was okay. Loraine, it’s never going to get better but it will get manageable. I can’t ever be okay because neither Chris nor Sean are here anymore. So don’t feel that you have to pretend that things are all right. I am never far away, just down the road a bit. If you want someone to let you grieve and let you vent, I’m here. Like I’ve often said, my grief was bad enough as he was my baby brother but your grief is unimaginable! You are his mother and he is ALWAYS your child! That type of grief is insurmountable and you acknowledge that grief as much as you wish to or need to. I’m here, I will listen, I will rail with you about the unfairness and the cruelty of it all, I will hug you tight and cry with you, I will be with you if you need me.

  • 2. thatwoman  |  October 27, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Thank you Mary for everything you have done to help not only me through this but Nikki too- I have no words that can express our thanks- Loraine

  • 3. Lisa  |  October 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I have been thinking about this post for the last couple days as I deal with my own flashbacks and still, all I can come up with is…I know where you are coming from. I understand how you feel. ♥
    I wish for dreams of Gabe that have never come. I wonder if that’s because somehow my mind knows that dreaming of him or meeting him in that dream space would hurt more and/or be more difficult to deal with than reliving everything every time I close my eyes.

  • 4. thatwoman  |  October 28, 2010 at 11:35 am

    All I know Lisa is after a day of flashbacks and triggers etc – I long to rest and sleep- to lay down my head on a cool pillow to soothe the eyes that burn with too many tears- only to walk the nightime hours in a world that still doesn’t make sense- I wake 7 or 8 times and hope for morning – I watch the sun come into the sky and it starts again- slow deterioration of me.

    I think as it was explained to me yesterday that on the whole no matter how tragic the death of especially a child, a son , daughter, no matter the circumstances there is a bonding , a reaching out by others who share the loss- and no matter how horrible it is – there is love and compassion and sharing –

    however it was said to me that we are dealing with another pain not usually experienced in the norm- we have had heaped on top of our grief, the nastiness selfishness and having to deal with a situation that is not the normal course of events no matter what the culture-

    it was unexpected and a shock on top of an already dreadful and traumatic experience- it makes no sense and therefore I cannot make any sense out of it waking or sleeping………

    Nkice to know but I have say it still didn’t change the course of my night last night :(

  • 5. Ten « Buster's House  |  November 1, 2010 at 3:58 am

    [...] don’t expect it will be any easier ten months from now, if ever. Every time I close my eyes, I am bombarded by memories. Every time I wake up, I have to re-acknowledge that he is gone. The gorilla has set the triggers [...]

  • [...] I wondered would time have lessened my feelings toward those people who inflicted the ultimate negative in our grief? Would I have written the same words 16 months later? Is the pain still as debilitating? ? [...]

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