Monday, October 28, 2013

Do you dream?

I started this blog several years ago. In fact, I was ashamed to publish any of my writings until earlier this year. I was ashamed of going through all that I have. At the time, I didn’t realize that so many of us go through the same things.  The following is something I wrote in 2008. At that time, I was battling one of the worst parts of PTSD. Nightmares. Then I wrote more about this subject in 2011.

I understand and respect the fact that many of my friends look at me and this blog as a source of “positivity” but please remember, I originally created this blog so that anyone could get an inside look of what it means to have PTSD. Remember, this is raw emotion and all up front honesty. As always, thank you for taking time to read this, and if you’d like, please leave me a comment.

2008: Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever had one dream that has stuck with you, even though you had that dream years ago?

I remember as young boy growing up how vivid my dreams were. Of course most of them were always sports related. Such as, “I hit the winning home run in the world series!!” Or, “I scored the winning touchdown in the super bowl.”

My dreams were regular. Sometimes I would remember them and sometimes I wouldn’t. But I distinctly remember having a dream. Of course they were not all good. I can remember one dream, I was being chased down the street by a taco! Seriously? I guess ate too many tacos that night.

But recently, my dreams haunt me. They interrupt my sleep. Actually, I cannot sleep without having a nightmare. I don’t have any happy dreams. Most nights I’m afraid to fall asleep. Because I know I’ll wake up screaming thinking I’m back in Iraq.

I live in northern California, where earth quakes are common. I remember one night, about 2 a.m. a small earthquake hit, but it rattled my house and windows. I ran outside to see what was wrong. I was thinking a car hit a telephone pole or worse my house. Nothing was there. But I couldn’t sleep for a good week after that. I had flashbacks to Iraq. And even more nightmares started.

The nightmares worsened. I found myself not wanting to go to sleep. Most nights I wondered what it would be like if I didn’t wake up the next morning. I didn’t care. I wished I had died. At least those that gave the last full measure of devotion didn’t have to suffer. But why did I have to suffer? Why couldn’t I sleep without nightmares? I just wanted a full nights rest.

But they continued. In one dream, I was at the checkout stand at the grocery store and when it came time to slide my card to pay….BOOM!!! The bomb exploded! It happened all over the place. At the bank, grocery store, even the toy store where I just wanted to by my kids a present.

In another dream, I was walking down a street in Iraq. The bomb would explode. I knew instantly it had killed one of my soldiers. But this unfamiliar voice mocked me, saying: “It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!!” Regardless, of the nightmare, I awoke feeling worthless. And wondering why I was still alive. Wondering why I was being made to suffer.

They kept happening over and over again. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to pass out. I soon began taking medication to help me sleep. It helped. But I didn’t dream. I didn’t dream at all. I want to dream. But I want to have happy normal dreams. When can’t I have normal dreams? Why didn’t I just die? I’d trade just about anything to dream again. I’d always wake up feeling exhausted. Not wanting to face the day.

2011: I no longer take the medication to help me sleep. I sleep okay. But typically I wake up every few hours. I’m still startled by noises in the night. My daughter woke me up in the middle of one night and it scared me so bad! I think I scared her the way I woke up screaming. I took her back to bed and read her another story. She asked: “Daddy, what’s wrong?” And I told her she surprised me like at Halloween. And she laughed. This was good for both of us.

But I don’t dream. Neither good nor bad. At least I don’t remember any of them. But it makes me ask: “When can I have good dreams again?” I want to dream of good things. I want to dream of happiness for my children. I want to dream of hitting a homerun. I just want to dram of something positive, something happy. Why can’t I be normal? Maybe I should just give up wanting to dream and be satisfied without having nightmares. After all, they don’t happen every night anymore. I’ll take waking up every few hours over those terrible nightmares any day.

Each night I go to sleep, I don’t want to dream of money or material possessions. I want to dream a happy dream. The kind where you wake up smiling, knowing it was only a dream, but it made you happy. Instead I wake up wondering why I can’t dream. And instead of looking forward to a new day, a new gift, I look at it as another day I must suffer. Hopefully one day all of this will be better.