Am I dreaming?

Has anyone dealing with PTSD felt as if they were dreaming and asleep but were not? It happens to me a lot ! It's very hard to figure out whats real and what isn't. And then there are times when my son is talking to me and I can't make out what he's saying. I mean I can hear the sound of his voice . I can't absorb what he says. Other times if I dare leave my house people recognize me and I have no idea who they are. It's starting to scare me. Is it all related to ptsd ?

15 Replies

  • I have described it like I was sitting up in a corner of the room, looking down and watching myself. That's how I characterize dissociation. PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder, and I have to remember to watch myself when I get in stressful situations. It's like I can't differentiate who is talking in a room full of people.

    When my family gets together at a holiday, I didn't understand for a while why I would end up out on the back porch. They're all pretty noisy, and it was just too overwhelming, so I would go out on the back porch to decompress and get myself grounded again.

    It's like I'm there, but not there. Sometimes it has manifested that I would go take some vitamins, and in 5 minutes not be able to remember if I had really taken them, or just imagined it.

    For me, that is all related to my PTSD. In the definition of PTSD, it describes several symptoms like "emotional numbing," and "feelings of detachment or estrangement from others."

  • Thank you DanH, it's exactly how I feel! Sorry you are experiencing it too but it is comforting to know I am not alone! I wonder why it's part of ptsd. I am still struggling with accepting my diagnosis so I question a lot! Thanks again!

  • You're very welcome, Whirlwind! Thought that might be what you were feeling.

    Fortunately, I'm experiencing it less than I used to. Nope, you're not alone. I thought I was terminally different because no one else seemed to have problems with crowds and feeling spaced out. Great that you're questioning!

    I think it's part of the anxiety element of PTSD - because of my trauma, I have trouble distinguishing a dangerous situation, and lots of stimulation sets off warning flags, even when it's not danger.

  • Yes same here. I am always on guard for danger! It's why I don't leave my house often. It's so much easier here in my house to cope!!!

  • Yup. I limit my time out in the world, and watch for situations that might overwhelm. I've called it my "on patrol" mentality, constantly looking out for danger. Wasn't in the military, but grew up with an abusive alcoholic Marine.

    Like you, it's easier for me to stay home.

  • Wow alcoholic and a marine. That is not a good combination if you ask me!!! I am sorry you had to deal with that.

  • True that, Whirlwind. He acted out the abuses he was involved with in boot camp on me, when he was drunk. It was a lethal combination. But - when he sobered up, he gave me a pathway for my healing journey, so there were blessings too.

  • There is also something called "lucid dreaming" which I experienced reliving my rock climbing fall. It would just overcome me at various times out of nowhere and I would vividly recall the fall and injury, in kind of a slow motion sometimes. I have also felt disassociated, but not quite in the way you describe.

  • What does dissociation feel like for you?

  • It doesn't feel like dreaming but rather like I'm not really one person. I have a conversation going on in my head about me but then there is this me who seems to be separate. I also can get very spun up in public places and not be able to really function. The grocery store used to send me into that very strange place sometimes and I would just leave cuz I couldn't really figure out what to do anyway. Hasn't happened in a while. :-)

  • Amen on the grocery store, Glenn. I keep my trips very short, because it can really get me wound up like you're saying.

  • I have also been asleep and woken up kicking, hitting, yelling and glad I was dreaming. Some of my dreams are half awake and half asleep. I also would wake up because I would see blood or smell something burning. I am doing a little better with that after about 5 years. It still pops up sometimes. It is a scary thing to me.

  • All anxiety is fear, yes? One of the nice little tips I picked up in AA is an acronym for fear. "False Evidence Appearing Real". I also wrote a song about it called, "I Scare Myself". While there is a fine line for me between shaming/blaming myself for my issues and owning them, there is some real power in recognizing that my anxiety arises from within me. It gives me power to deal with it. I find over and over that simply inviting in my worst fears and stopping resisting them and being scared of being scared - what I call the "compound mind fuck" of this disease - is a huge relief. I'm not talking about "happy thoughts", but rather saying to myself, "Okay, I'm really scared right now." and letting it roll over me. The more I do this, the more the feelings just dissolve. I learned this from the Sedona Method Release technique. Fyi, I have no axe to grind for those guys, and it may not be the best approach, it's just what I do and how I cope. This is in addition to revisualization where I take the painful traumatic visual memories and create different, crazy, silly pictures out of them in my mind. For some reason, white swans make regular appearances and swoop in and rescue me. It's bizarre at first, to make my worst memories silly but it's been such a huge relief to me.

    At a certain point I just said, "they are my feelings and memories and I'll do what I please with them". Fyi, I resisted the revisualization stuff for years but in a moment of desperation with traumatic memories and no access to health care I tried it myself. I do it regularly now, often quickly and its nothing short of miraculous for me. Again though, please, I'm no professional nor do I have "method" i'm recommending. There seems to be lots of more formalized approaches here that work for people. I had to "roll my own" for a while cuz I went through a financial meltdown along with my PTSD, as I'm sure many of you can relate to.

    Happy Trails everyone! Have a great week.

  • It could be Dissociation Identity Disorder, (DID) check it out with your therapist. I have that disorder.

  • I just thought of something.

    Regardless of where you are, wear something, a necklace, ring, bracelet that is your touchstone. when in the fog, touch the item, rub it, feel it, rub the skin around it. It can be a constant physical thing of reality. Hope that helps.

    So glad to hear about you, WW. Even through your struggles, you are a breath of fresh air!

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