Napping used to be the norm for me. I used to plan on when to take my naps and how long for. I absolutely had to have a nap to function.
I started napping in high school. I would arrive home and take a nap for a couple of hours, have tea then eventually go to bed. I struggled to sleep all the way through a night. After my dads death I got PTSD which affected my ability to stay asleep. Sleeping through the night was something that was extremely rare. My PTSD led to me having nightmares. I’d sometimes wake up sweating or with jaw ache from grinding my teeth. It was quite common for me to wake up mid panic attack or wake up confused and wondering how I even got into bed. As well as PTSD I also had depression and anxiety which made day time life extremely draining. I was constantly tired because my brain would never switch off. I never got a break from myself and the only way I could feel like a functioning human was if I had a nap.
My napping got worse (although it didn’t feel like a bad thing then) when I was in college. During my first year of college I would spend most of my dinner breaks napping. As I lived on site I could literally go to bed whenever which I thought was amazing but in reality it probably didn’t help me. I started to be known as the one that always naps. My friends would ask me if I needed a nap before we went out or went for tea. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes all I needed was a couple of hours by myself. I just needed to recharge my batteries. If I didn’t I would end up going quiet and slipping out of the real world and I’d slip into the horrible world of PTSD. When your PTSD kicks in around others, it’s not good. For me it was terrifying. At this time I didn’t even know I had PTSD. I didn’t really even know what it was. So if my PTSD kicked in back then, I thought it was just my normal working brain. I’d gotten used to reliving my dads death. I was used to the images being on repeat. I was used to the questioning thoughts that made me doubt myself but I wasn’t used to people seeing me that way. I didn’t want to be known as ‘the quiet one’ or ‘the crazy one’ and I definitely didn’t want others to see me as ‘the emotional one’. I was scared of the judgement I might receive. I didn’t even fully understand my own head so how could I explain what happens to me to others? I just thought it was me. It was who I was.
In my second year of college my nightmares got worse. I had reluctantly started counselling which was provided to me by the college. My counsellor told me she thought I had PTSD yet nothing was done about it. So I finally knew what was going on with me, but I didn’t know how to deal or cope with it so nothing really changed. I had a boyfriend in my second year of college and we shared a room almost every night. He would sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night because I was tossing and turning, lashing out or my breathing was going crazy. Sometimes when I woke up I had no recollection of what I was dreaming and other times I would wake up in a panic and burst into tears. It was awful and it made me feel even worse for putting him through that. This was something that happened fairly regularly. My nightmares were normally me reliving the day my dad died over and over again. Over time I felt like I had forgotten everything else about him. All I could remember was that day. When people asked me about my dad, that day would pop into my head. When people spoke about their dads, that day would pop into my head. I felt trapped. The memory was still very clear and every detail was remembered. When I was with friends I couldn’t escape it. When I was on my own I couldn’t escape it and when I was asleep I still couldn’t escape it. During my second year of college I turned to alcohol. Alcohol helped me release my thoughts and emotions and it helped me get to sleep and sometimes stay asleep. It was something that I genuinely believed to help me.
Once I finished college I went onto work with horses. A very physically demanding job for someone who is constantly tired and drained but I loved it. Horses provided me with peace and they helped me live in the moment with them. I forgot about all my troubles when I was around them but they helped me bring my walls down. I knew that if I wanted to cry with them I could and sometimes I did, but even then they couldn’t 100% help me with my problems.
During my dinner breaks I’d sometimes nap (not always, but most of the time) but it made going back to work afterwards a bit more difficult so instead I started having early nights. A couple of years ago I was working on a yard in Cheshire. Very physically demanding work but I loved it there. I had a 45 minute dinner break so I would try to eat something that didn’t take long to make so I could have more napping time and once the day was over I was sometimes in bed and asleep by 7:30pm. I still wasn’t sleeping through the whole night. My PTSD was still there, along with my depression and anxiety but I had gotten used to it all by this point and everything was all bottled up. I just thought and accepted that this was who I was. I’d describe myself to others as ‘fucked up’. I genuinely thought that the rest of my life would have been like this.
Last year I started my CBT which helped me with my PTSD. We had to work through a couple of my traumatic memories in order to accept, process and move on from them. Honestly, I cannot explain how draining, exhausting and sometimes horrible it was. Once we started the memory of my dads death I was always tired. I remember the first session we did focusing on my dads death. I was in floods of tears with my counsellor, then I went home and had a 5 hour nap. I was exhausted. I think until you’ve had PTSD and done CBT therapy yourself you won’t understand how exhausting it is. It’s something that probably only took 10-15minutes but it drained me of almost all of my energy. The days after my sessions were spent either at the yard or in bed. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. I didn’t have the energy to interact with people. My horse was the only reason why I got out of bed. If I didn’t have him I would have easily been able to sleep all day every day. As well as my weekly session I had tasks to do whilst at home. No matter how tired or how shit I felt I always did my tasks. My motivation to do my tasks came from my inner self. My soul. She knew that this PTSD, depressed, anxiety riddled human wasn’t who I truly was. I needed to get through this in order to discover who I truly am.
We focused on my dads death for a few weeks. It was the lowest I have been this year but looking back I am so glad I did it. I’m able to say I conquered my PTSD and depression (anxiety still needs a bit of work) and I am on a journey to discover my true self. Napping is now a rare treat for me. Something I no longer feel I need. I can’t remember the last time I had a nightmare and getting a full 8 hours sleep is now the easiest task to complete.
Now that I am out of that black hole, I am able to look back at my life and I’ve realised how magnificent yet cruel our brains are to us. They can provide us with so much wisdom and knowledge, yet they can riddle us with doubt and sadness. Now that I have realised that I am able to connect with myself on a level I never have before. I am able to tune into my true thoughts/feelings. I am able to say no without worrying about what others may say back. Life has truly gotten better this year and I cannot wait for my future.
So please, if you are struggling or doubting yourself, stop! You’re gonna make it! You’re gonna conquer the world and you’re gonna be happy! You are going to reach a point where you love and care about yourself and you will reach a point where all the negatives will be left in your past. You just have to stay determined.
I love you all so much,