Nightmares PTSD: Sleepwalking or Dissociation like episodes with Night Terrors
My Recent Experience
This is something I recently experienced with a stay in Xavier (PTSD ward in a psych hospital). I was so totally overwhelmed with life in general when I arrived for my 21-day stay.
During this time I was put on two new medications, both meant to help me sleep at night and stabilise mood. The biggest surprise of that I went in barely eating and once I started doing sessions discussing my Depression and Night Terrors/Flashbacks and changed to this new medications the side effects were immediate.
I would routinely wake at night and walk quite a distance down a long hallway, past the nurses station and into the kitchen. I would fill my pockets with sweet cream biscuits and start walking back to my room usually about 2am. The nurses started to watch me and followed me back into my room, I was oblivious to them being there; I climbed back into bed, promptly ate all the biscuits and turned over to sleep.
The next morning I would see the biscuit wrappers alongside my bed and a bed full of crumbs, sometimes even chocolate on my pillowcase. The nurses discussed this with me the next morning and told me what I did, I had no memory of it which in itself is strange as I’m usually extremely hyper-vigilant.
I started asking in general if anyone else was doing this; the answer was yes, most people on the same medication were. I couldn’t help but see the funny side of what I must have looked like each night. I asked the nurses to turn me back around to my bed if they saw me get up and surprisingly enough that worked but still, come morning I had no memory of it.
I now had the appetite of three grown men, yikes, I put on over 4kg in that 21-day stay!
Now home after my stay and my cognitive dysfunction do not allow my brain to relate feeling/being hungry or the need to eat. For a while I thought it was medication related only and lack of exercise. Now I’m off the medications I was on whilst in for my stay everything’s turned on it’s head again.
Then it happened. I was found in the kitchen at night after being awoken we will say, from a nightmare/terror. I was eating all sorts of things, and had no recollection of even getting out of bed, and sure did not know I was up eating. It was not like normal sleepwalking. I was fully alert… and sure could make a grilled cheese sandwich… one right after the other.
Weight increasing and I’m freaking out, I don’t need another issue to manage but unfortunately, most medications have side effects and I’ve “NEVER” had one yet that says side effects include weight loss!!! Going to join the quietest gym I can find during the middle of the day and start working out.
Besides having someone to take on shift sleeping/watching me it is a hard one to fix. I spoke to the doctors regarding it. It still has not been defined as dissociative episodes or sleepwalking and night terrors. However, since PTSD symptoms have decreased some, and I am past a PTSD anniversary time frame, this binge eating unknowingly at night has eased off as well. Problem is with complex PTSD I have many anniversaries during the year. Maybe I need to install some cameras to capture the video??
Life Before Medication
Life before this new medication saw me having such hyper-vigilance that I would go to bed after checking every door & window had been locked.
I would then go to bed with the intention of reading a book, writing or just watching the end of a TV show then sleep, I was tired, I was yawning. Then I would not sleep until I saw the sun coming up. This has been a long term habit fed by the demons of my PTSD so ( all in my head).
I have tried using an actual Sleep Dr. It helped a little but a Sleep Dr is not going to tell my demons to sleep if I can’t. So no more TV before bed. Reading: yes. Laptop, iPhone, emails, Facebook: NO, NO, NO.
As I finish off, I’d like to keep you encouraged by saying that the more I work through my PTSD, the better daily life is getting.
I’m now learning the non-medicated tools to manage the flashbacks and triggers. I’m pretty much guaranteed to have a trigger daily if I leave the house and I am trying not to isolate myself or go out when my SUDS are over 8, that way I’m not tempted by my limited patience at this time to get into any trouble. I’m back to my hypervigilant state during the night and working on it.
I hope some of you can relate to my experience and comments and would love to hear from you.
Until next time.