Your stories

Finding my way through my dreams

Karen Runnalls
Follow us

Karen Runnalls

From a confident, sociable workaholic, Karen felt she changed overnight into a shy individual that wanted to hide away from the outside world. Diagnosed with PTSD, she struggled with memories of old traumas that she had previously blocked out. Finding that running away and hiding was easier than facing the reality of the problem, Karen started self-harming in an attempt to bring herself back to some sort of normality. With the support of others, Karen learnt to lead a better life and understand that what happened to her is not unusual and she is not alone. Though admittedly, as someone who was previously independent and stubborn, Karen found listening to others who were trying to help a real challenge at first! Karen still has her ‘off’ days but has developed coping mechanisms and wishes to let others know that there is a life outside social anxiety and depression.
Karen Runnalls
Follow us

Latest posts by Karen Runnalls (see all)

I have recently been having extremely vivid dreams and nightmares. When I awake, I question myself. I have to decide whether to heed the warnings or to not allow them to distract my way of life. Sometimes I find a dream might try to haunt me for the rest of the day, and finding a coping mechanism is not as easy as I would like to think it is.

Whether it’s the medication the Doctor prescribes or my own mental health, dreams seem to be the main contention for myself as of late. I could consult a CPN, Psychologist or a Dream Specialist and analyse these dreams, but will that truly help me? Or is it a part of who I am? Is it nothing more than an overactive imagination?

Having PTSD, I find myself far too analytical in my decision making and this is where my dilemma begins. It is very hard to pinpoint the exact moment in my lifetime that was the catalyst to where I am now. I have blacked out the majority of my youth –it’s like having a filing cabinet in the brain where I can file away all the hurt, shut the drawer and lock away the misery. Yet dreams can evoke the memories I once ignored. I know in some ways dreams can be a blessing; being able to visualise the people we once loved, then lost and mourned. Remembering the good times rather than the bad.

As I search for a coping mechanism, I come to Dream Diaries. I wonder; are they worth the effort? Could it help or will I just be recollecting a troubled past? Some experts believe a diary helps us to remember our dreams better; I personally do not want to recall every dream I have. When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I was asked to fill in a diary of my feelings; to be honest with myself and write down my moods and emotions.  When I look back now it’s tough to read how bad I actually was. Could this happen with my dream diary too, as I put into words my feelings and despondency?

It has been suggested by the professionals who manage my care that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) may help me. I often question if the effects will be like my dreams if I go back to where the problems began and relive the moment it all happened. I wonder could the memories it evokes be the true events or are they the warped version similar to our dreams? Recreating the past not as it happened, but how we think it occurred. Indeed, is that all our memories really are?

So how might I stop the dreams and sleep better? There are studies that show some plants in the bedroom are a good idea; improving the air around us, emitting oxygen whilst removing toxins and providing us with a restful slumber. Other studies suggest that Lavender, Aloe Vera and ‘Mother-In-Law’s Tongue’ can help. Then of course, we’re told to reduce our caffeine intake (grrrr) whilst increasing magnesium in our diet (oh a little dark chocolate… happy days).

I must admit reducing the caffeine has helped a little, but there’s a lot of conflicting advice. It’s not easy recollecting distant memories while moving forward. But on the whole, I’ve decided to accept my overactive imagination and I’m choosing not to dwell on time past and live for the now. We can’t change the past but we can prepare for the future, ensuring we can enjoy our lives a little better.  Let’s fill today with positive vibes.

What will you read next?

Share your thoughts...