Sometimes I forget I have a sleep disorder. Because, so long ago, we mostly fixed it.
It used to be, I would wake up screaming, flailing, punching, crying – and swearing there were people in the room attacking me. About three times a week. For years and year and years. For so long I didn’t realize how unnormal it all was.
Then I got tired of hurting my husband, tired of feeling terrible, tired of fearing bedtime – just plain tired.
So, I had a therapy, a sleep study, was diagnosed with “arousal disorder” – I still giggle when I say that – and started taking large doses of crazy meds.
That was five years ago.
I have had three night terrors since.
This week has been bad at bedtime. No major night terrors, but I’ve been… off. Sleep has been almost muffled. I woke up last night (early this morning?) around 4am and I had no idea where I was. I could feel the fear there, almost creeping around the back of my skull, but I also knew I was OK. Like five years of not screaming myself awake had conditioned me to try and figure things out before jumping off the diving board into that icy pool of hysteria.
I sat up in bed and looked around in the black, trying to remember. I almost wasn’t even sure who I was, much less where I was, or when it was. As my eyes slowly adjusted, the breath I didn’t realize I was holding exhaled.
I was home. In my bed. With Bryan. Safe.
I fell back on my pillow and wondered what was going on. Sure, we have been stressed as ever, but nothing more than normal.
Then I realized what time of year it was.
Which had always been the worst time for my night terrors. Always.
Something about the combination of light shifting to longer cycles plus the dreariness of winter had always made January a non-stop screamfest for me.
It was actually soothing to recognize this. This time of year. And the date.