[NCIS produced and written by Donald Bellisario and Don McGill; all rights belong to CBS / Channel 5 and the respective artists. With thanks to Dream-A for the clip (Season 8).]
Sleep is one of the first things that I find becomes difficult when I’m going downhill. Just when I’m thinking about going to bed, my psychotic symptoms usually get up. My auditory hallucinations and sometimes the visual ones will be worse when I’m alone at night. The re-experiencing of traumatic memories definitely is worse. For long periods at a time, because of historic abusive experiences and fears, I’m too scared to sleep in my bed and then if I try but have to get up, I can become terrified to open the door to go out of the room as well. I’m locked into a flashback of a terror I had as a child that I’d find my mother dead outside my room, because of a threat she made. To escape it I’ve been back to sleeping on the sofa again for weeks.
Anyway, I’m going off topic a bit. At the moment to try to get back into a proper routine of relaxation and proper sleep, I’m trying the following three tips for a better night:
First, I’ve moved things around in my room (for example, putting the bed in a slightly different place) so as to create a change of environment and make it as different as possible from the one associated with my fears and flashbacks.
Second, I have found a relaxing CD which I am playing specifically before sleep time and only before sleep time, so as to make the association between that music and those words, and relaxing for sleep.
Third, I’m going back to trying a technique one of the nurses told me at the hospital, which is a modified version of counting the proverbial sheep. When you are in bed, close your eyes, and then close them a little bit tighter – not scrunching up your eyes, but just pressing the eyelids closed a little harder than you would if you were just blinking, maybe. Then count very slowly back from 100, concentrating on each number. Or, try imagining a colour which you enjoy looking at, and hold a cloud of that colour in your mind. Focus on it but try to prevent it taking on any particular shape or form. Though the latter sounds strange I found it to be curiously effective as relaxation for a few minutes, together with some music, even if I did not fall asleep!
Right, here’s to “bat naps”, and eventually a night in bed.