I’m more and more convinced that PTSD and other traumatic events can break down the brain’s normal ability to protect a person from unconscious thoughts and dreams.
For the last few weeks I have had a minor cough. A few times a day, a few seconds each time. No big deal. The other night I had a dream in which I was in a class room with young college students. One person started coughing. And then another. And another until the whole class was coughing. I then woke up. Coughing. Want to figure that out?
That’s a direct connection between the world awake and the world asleep. No more wall. I’ve frequently backed down the driveway in my truck to run an errand or to do some banking, only to pause at a certain point. When I realize I don’t need to go anywhere. The errand was instead needed in last night’s dream. The night carried forward.
I’ve long thought that the incident I had triggered a firestorm of activity in my brain which has burned out any circuit holding my lifelong anxiety to my waking life. Now, my anxiety can hit me at night when I am helpless. No more wall to protect me when I go to sleep. The front line is everywhere.
Some PTSD suffer intense flashbacks during the day. Again, that is the traumatic memory breaking through into the waking hours.
People don’t believe me when I say that getting murdered in a dream or coming out of anesthesia after ECT feels like the real thing. Nonsense they say. In their world, I’m either lying or they somehow know what I am experiencing better than myself. In either case, they are wrong.
Most people draw a clear distinction between the conscious and unconscious. For us nightmare suffers, that border or wall is broken, at least in part. And I don’t know how that breach can be fixed.
My ECT sessions were a last try at establishing new electrical pathways for my brain to follow, sort of like building a new wall instead of repairing an old wall. Didn’t work.
How do you fix a broken eggshell? Or can you? I don’t see a way.