How to stop nightmares?

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 2/21/2007 6:14 PM (GMT -7)   
I am new to this board, and very happy to have come across it as it seems like a very positive, supportive environment.  I was diagnosed with bipolar two years ago, have been taking Lamictal and Klonopin, and have been undergoing psychotherapy for the past year.  I actually believe I've had bipolar since being a small child, as I had the same problems on a smaller scale as I did later in life when I finally sought treatment, and suffered TERRIBLY from sleepwalking, intense night terrors, and the most awful nightmares I've ever heard described.  Since being on medication,  I've been slowly, but surely getting better and better, with ups and downs of course, but I have recently begun having gory, gruesome nightmares about torture and killings like I did before treatment, and when I wake up, I'm sweating and spend a good part of the day feeling frantic and panicky.  I used to have night terrors and sleep walking, but thankfully those have not returned.  I have also suffered off and on throughout my life with anxiety due to invasive, horrifying visions of terrible things happening to my family and myself.  When I am IN it, I feel convinced that whatever horrible things I'm envisioning will come to pass.  I haven't had anxiety this badly regarding grotesque crimes since before I began treatment.  When I was little, I thought nightmares were equally as disturbing for everyone else, but as I got older I soon came to understand that the nightmares I was dealing with were worlds apart from nightmares my friends had, and were far more detailed in their appalling gruesomeness.  I understand  now that these visions/nightmares can be an unfortunate part of bipolar disorder, and wondered if others are dealing with the same things.  Does anbody know of anything that can be done to help prevent the nightmares and to help stop the gruesome visions?  I am so far from a violent person, don't even watch horror movies because I can't handle it and hate it, and don't know why this is happening.  It is terrifying, and disturbing to the core, and I don't understand how my brain can even concoct this stuff. Any thoughts on how to make it stop?
Thank you so much and glad to meet you all!

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 215
   Posted 2/21/2007 7:41 PM (GMT -7)   
Has your psychologist diagnosed these nightmares as PTSD? The question is, is there something in your past that you don't consciously remember? Crackers as this must sound, these sound like past life flashbacks. I don't know what your belief system is, but even people who don't believe in this sort of thing experience flashbacks! I have had them myself and that is what convinced me that this is a real thing.

Do you meditate? This is one way to get in touch with your rational and irrational mind and figure out what is going on.

I know what finally helped my nightmares. It is something called EMDR therapy. I don't EVER suggest to ANYONE that EMDR is for them because it is scary, difficult and most people can't handle it. There have been cases of people ending their lives after EMDR therapy. It allows someone to delve very deeply into the subconscious mind and should NEVER be undertaken by a practitioner who is not thoroughly trained and experienced in this technique, and without the full understanding of the client. My pain theshhold allowed me only 3 sessions before I had to stop it and the "dipping into the pool of the mind" facet of EMDR lasted for greater than 6 months and at times I could not control it. I mention it only because it worked, but I am NOT suggesting you try it.

You could try the dream interpretation route too. Write down what you can remember and sort out the symbolic nature of them and see what you come up with. This is not something I was able to do.
The Lady Dragonfly
Yes, it was me...I know because I was there when I did it. Lupus sufferer, bipolar II sufferer. Currently on Indocin for chronic pericarditis related to lupus, and cherishing every deep breath without pain. Currently in graduate school for mental health counseling, class of Fall 2007. Vegan and loving it!

olivia of course
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 2/21/2007 7:47 PM (GMT -7)   
I have had periods of time where I was even terrified to sleep, but Thank God those times are over.  I have had horrible/terrifying dreams or nightmares in the past that have shaken me up.  To make matters worse, they kept reoccuring for a while and I could have sworn that when I woke up they were actually real.  There were times I couldn't sleep more than 1-2 hours for a few nights or more, because I was scared to relieve the dreams, or so it seemed.  But this happened after a traumatic event in my life, so that explains why I was having those horrible dreams.  I even started having flashbacks of the dreams, and that started affecting my daily life.  My therapist said that it was symptoms of PTSD. 
But I am much better now, and my anxiety is definetly better, but is still there. 
I would definetly bring it up with your pdoc, because I have heard that some meds can give people vivid/nightmarish dreams.  It may need to be readjusted or something.  But I am no medical expert, just thought I would throw that out there.
Just hang in there, and know you are not alone.  :-)


"Don't let your yesterday ruin your today."

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 2/21/2007 9:52 PM (GMT -7)   
I haven't been diagnosed with Bi-Polar, but I have night terrors/nightmares (whatever the docs want to call it). They are very scary, here lately most of mine have been visions of myself dying, I will not get into the details of how I die but it is awful.
The most common night terror that I have more frequently than others is this: I am lying on my bed and something that I can't see is pressing down on my chest and I can't breathe, I can't even scream for my husband to help me, I try to fight it off but it will not stop it just keeps pressing & pressing and finally in my mind I manage to say God Help Me and I wake up. (when this is going on, it seems as if I am awake and watching it all happen & I can't understand why my husband doesn't wake up from my struggling)! Anyone have advice on what this may or may not be????

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 657
   Posted 2/22/2007 3:20 AM (GMT -7)   

Mirage - welcome to our BP family , and welcome to Healing Well :-)   I see you have already got some great advice from our members. Glad to meet you.

Graces-Angel - I suffer from sleep paralysis and hallucinations/lucid dreams , it sounds like you might too. As to your husband waking from you struggling - you may only be struggling in your mind , when I experience this I can't even make any sort of noise let alone move until I am mind tricks me sometimes so that I think I have woken up and then I realise I still can't move - it can go on quite a few times before I really wake up.

I wish you both well ,

Smiler tongue

Bipolar Moderator
DX : Bipolar , Panic Disorder , GAD , OCD , IBS.
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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 2/23/2007 8:15 PM (GMT -7)   

Thank you all for your help and encouragement- I was feeling really down the other night when I wrote this and haven’t really even wanted to mention it to anyone for fear of people thinking I was rather, how shall we say, insane.  It’s both terrifying and depressing to be in this situation, but you all have been so kind and helpful in reaching out to me, and it made me feel less alone, so I thank you for that.  LadyDragonfly, the mention of flashbacks to previous lives doesn’t sound Crackers at all to me.  While I don’t consciously believe I’ve had a past life, my very best friend, who suffers from anxiety and depression, whole-heartedly believes in past lives.  I would never totally write it off, none of us know the big picture, as much as we’d like to think we do.  I also would never discount witnessing something, however I don’t even see how I could have, and if I did, I must have been an infant!  The EMDR therapy you underwent sounds absolutely terrifying, so that was very brave of you to do that.  I can’t say for myself that I would be that brave, but I’m glad it helped you.  I’m really very open-minded, I think there are a lot of different approaches to things, and I can’t afford to close potential doors to getting better.  For now, I am going to tell my pdoc, whom I will be seeing on Tuesday.  Ironically, I hadn't had the chance to tell her, as we were only meeting every 6 weeks, because I felt I wasn’t even sick anymore.  Funny how that happens, isn’t it?  Now it’s back with a vengeance. 

            Olivia, I’m sorry that you’ve had to suffer the same!  I know the feeling of being terrified to go to sleep, of not being able to stay asleep, just awful.  Thank you for understanding.  I am sorry also that you had a tragedy happen to you.  Oddly enough, I have never been diagnosed with PTSD, and I feel like no tragedy has ever occurred.  I certainly have had difficulties, many of my friends have had serious problems, and my husband has severe panic disorder, and has gone on and off Paxil three times during the course of our relationship.  I also forced myself to work (as a nutritionist for the WIC program) dealing with people face to face, many of them very belligerent, (clients AND coworkers, especially my boss), all while going through my first diagnosed bout of rapid cycling bipolar and while starting medications and therapy.  I'm sure many of yo ucan appreciate how awful it is to try to work with people who openly don't like you or distrust you, all while battling crying spells, rages, depressions and manias within the same day or hour.  I was actually first diagnosed during my career at WIC.  For a while, I ignored it, thinking I was just being a big baby about my job and letting it get to me.  But I also knew I had had depression and anxiety most of my life, so noticed it getting worse and sought help.  That was pretty horrible.  I also was anorexic from 13-17, and fully recovered.  So I have had many difficulties in life, but feel like, how could I have PTSD?  Despite having bad experiences, and experiencing absolutely unbearable emotional suffering, I know I do not even BEGIN to comprehend what it would be like to have something truly awful happen to me.  I would never compare myself to a PTSD sufferer, because I know they have suffered even more.  It’s a mystery to me why my brain creates these horrors, especially while heavily medicated with Klonopin, which used to seemingly stop the dreams altogether.

            Graces Angel, I wish you the same peace as I wish everyone else, for that horrible suffering to end. 

            And smiler, thank you so much for the warm welcome, everyone has been so good to me, I only hope I can be a help to others too!


Best wishes to all,



New Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/26/2007 8:27 AM (GMT -7)   
Nice to meet u mirage...i used to suffer from mysterious dreams too. I found with time, the more honest i am to myself about what i am really feeling about situations and people in my life the more restfull a sleep i get. I have lots of siblings and lost both my parents so dreams about my parents i kind of figured out for myself, and although the end feeling as to why i would have such a dream wasn't the most comforting at least i dealt with it from beginning to why did i have this dream, what did it mean, and move on because u can't change it. I am thinking...ask yourself...what do you watch on tv? Documentarys and commercials can effect you. What are you thinking or talking about an hour before you fall asleep? I found , with time, as your mind deals with thoughts u don't quite understand, you will slowly become more calm and comfortable with these thoughts, and they will go away and u will sleep better. Once in a while u will remember stuff but if won't freak u out anymore, I hope this helps a little cool

Post Edited (tru2me) : 2/26/2007 8:30:41 AM (GMT-7)

New Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/17/2007 3:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I read the posts from back in February just this a.m. Wondering how you've been doing with the nightmares?
I have never been medicated for bipolar, UNFORTUNATELY, simply because after the diagnosis a few years ago I decided the doc was crazy. Now, after a you-know-what-load of obvious disruption to my life I'm facing the truth of the matter for the very first time.
Back to nightmares...
As long as I can remember, I've had very intense dreams and nightmares. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the content in the dreams could give me a clue as to how my bipolar cycle is going. Very gory nightmares have always accompanied any type of illness for me (flu virus, onset and during depressive episodes.) However, in the past 10 years a positive side has emerged: brilliantly detailed, conceptual dreams. I've had dreams that amaze me, that have entire story lines, underlying themes and tones that I could actually write a book on (if only I could follow-through!!). This has been the same years within which I've noticed manic episodes emerging. Problem is, when I'm like this I can't stop talking about the dreams and the ideas themselves seem to fuel my energy and excitement (mania), and people actually listen intently to my telling of the dreams, "Oh WOW! You should write a book about this, or make it into a move script!" and so on... Of course in 3 days I'm out of the manic phase and completely on to something else, like I said, no follow-through.
Okay, well anyway, I also have a longer history of night terrors, something I cannot see holding me down at night, the feeling wakes me and I now (after years of this) know what I must do to bring myself out of it---I anticipate (instinctively by this stage of the game) the ability to move my lips so I can speak a prayer "God Help Me." I have done this to cope as at the onset of this it was very very sudden and several times within one night. This frequency lasted approximately 6 months and tapered a little over the following year, then is now only 1 to 2 times a year. My prayer works because either
a)God is really helping me, or
b)It pulls upon my most familiar, powerful framework I've held from childhood.
Either way, it would be good for sufferers to look for something familiar and strong to train themselves to lean on intuitively at those times.
PAST TRAUMA - another dream issue I had for about a year when I was 13; This actually happened, and repeated dreams then ensued:In the middle of the night my mother, brother and I were broken in on by a man who molested my mother with my brother and I in the next room. We didn't have a telephone, it was a three room apt. and my brother unfortunately awoke, looked into the kitchen from where he was and saw our mother and this man. I had been awake the entire time, and the man had told me to keep still and quiet and said if I moved or made a sound he would kill my mother (this, while holding a knife to her throat).
IN THE COMING MONTHS, I would have a nightmare with this scenario again and again. Repeating the victimization, sometimes I would fight back, find a gun and shoot at him, but in the end, he would succeed at doing this to my mother and I would have failed to protect her again. My counselor taught me LUCID DREAMING SKILLS. Eventually, I was able to fill the perpetrator with holes, literally being able to see through him by the end of the dream. I won, finally. I never had that dream again.
I still have times of gory dreams. I accept this about myself. I am very sensitive to disturbing images through media. There are certain types of horror films that I have noticed DO TRIGGER severe terror/anxiety/paranioa feelings in me for days to come. Obviously it's just not worth it, and is perhaps why I've never been a big fan of the scary stuff. Whatever you do, don't take it in and allow yourself to believe that the presence of these dreams is a reflection on you or your quality as a person. I've come to see it this way: It's like PULP FICTION, not the movie, but FICTION in PULP interpretation. Intangible ideas that are expressed physically or visually so that the ideas themselves are more reachable and understandable yeah
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