(Originally published 4 Oct 2013)
What's that you say? Two blog posts in one day? I know! I've had the idea for this post in my little box of nonsense for sometime...so here goes.
I've spoken before about the amount of pills I take and how much I hate taking so many. One of them is Mirtazapine (45mg) which I take at night to help me sleep. It's a dual-acting drug. It's both an anti-depressant and a sedative. In lower doses it's more of a sedative than an anti-depressant but, as the dosage increases, those two things swap places and it becomes less sedatitive and more anti-depressive . I remember the first night I took them. Wow! I felt like a zombie for the whole next day. It felt like life was going in slow motion, but once I got used to them they were a Godsend. I'd spent so long suffering with nightmares (a common consequence of PTSD) without any medication, having something....anything that let me sleep felt amazing. They don't stop the nightmares but they do, at least, give you a little time in the land of Nod. Obviously I don't know how PTSD affects other people but, for me, the nightmares were horrendous. I'd wake up in a panic, not being able to differentiate dream from reality. I'd panic, I'd cry, I'd be confused and I'd be too scared to go back to sleep. A horrible combination.
One of the ironic side-effects of taking Mirtazapine, for me at least, is that it makes dreams, good or bad, seem SO vivid. I often wake up not knowing if that thought I had was something I'd dreamt or I'd actually lived through it the day before. I remember once ringing to find out how my Mum was getting on in hospital only to discover it was just a dream. Because struggling with PTSD just isn't quite hard enough! I've been undertaking EMDR therapy for the past few months which is really helping with the nightmares. It hasn't 'cured' them completely but I don't get them anywhere near as much as I did, which can only be a good thing. I don't fear the sleeper anymore. One more small step back to life.