What do you do when your subconscious is just as anxious and angry as your conscious mind?
What’s in my head?
Nightmares. Flashbacks. Everything that has ever given me stress or anxiety.
I have had a recurring nightmare since some time in my elementary school years about getting lost in the school building not being able to find my classroom. It used to very distinctly be Green Middle School in Green, Ohio. I could probably still map out every hallway and staircase throughout that building. As I’ve aged, it’s grown with me to where sometimes I’m lost at Northmont High School or sometimes on the campus of Bowling Green State University. I will be walking around and frantically searching for the right door or the right classroom. My heart will be racing and I’ll be looking around yet knowing deep in my mind that I will never find the right way. Sometimes my mind will have fun with it and instead of being lost, I will realize that it’s finals week and I never went to a single class the whole semester.
I‘ll wake up feeling exhausted and know that whatever was on my agenda for the day must have been giving me anxiety or some situation I was in was obviously stressful. An extra cup of coffee in the afternoon to keep moving and prayers for a better night sleep.
Since Johnathan died, it’s no longer getting lost in a school. It‘s like my subconscious has realized how trivial missing a class is in the grand scheme of life.
Now it’s seeing his lifeless body in the casket at his funeral. It’s constantly replaying the events of the day he died. Glancing over and seeing him start to posture in AJs arms. Holding him and checking his airway and making sure he didn’t aspirate. Being two inches from his face as I pinched his nose and made sure I had a good seal over his mouth with mine.
These nightmares will wake me up and I’ll feel as if I never slept a minute. My heart is racing, my fingers are tingling, and I can barely breathe. Then it happens during the day. My mind wanders during moments or gets triggered from a picture or a toy and there I am, living my nightmare over and over again.
I realize that my nightmares are now my real life.
These aren’t subconscious thoughts that represent my feelings, they’re flashbacks of real events that I can’t escape. I wish I could go back to just worrying about school and acing the final exam.
It’s never really going to be over.
I take prescribed medicine from my family PA to help with the panic attacks and I’ve been working with her and a grief counselor to process these thoughts. The way I face the day and how I learn to cope with it will hopefully make these episodes come less frequently.
But today, I still have to live the nightmare and tonight, I will still have the nightmare. Someone just wake me up please.