June 29th, 2013, felt like the start of another sleepless night. Had it been two nights? Three nights perhaps since I’ve slept. Before I was properly assessed and diagnosed, I had no idea what was causing me these horrific nightmares. These nightmares would often occur right before falling asleep, and when I did sleep, these nightmares would become real, and I could never escape.
At least when these awake nightmares would begin to take place right before the dream state, at least I could keep myself awake and distract my mind for short periods, just long enough to escape the hell that was living inside my consciousness. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) would be the precursor to turning me into a decade-long insomniac. As my attraction for alcohol started to fade at 21-years-old, I found a new love that would help me kill my dreams at night.
It was a bipolar type of relationship with cannabis right from the beginning. I was first persuaded at 16 to take a hit off this joint in my best friends’ brothers. Friend’s truck was parked outside of the graveyard on the outskirts of town. Out of the 5 of us in the vehicle, two of us lost our virginity to Mary-Jane that night. Even with them not allowing anyone to roll the windows down, my friend and I, who just lost our V-Cards, felt absolutely nothing, as the other three were red-eyed and high as Pluto. The second time I danced with Mary-Jane happened a couple of months later. There were 8 of my friends standing around a fire outside of my dad’s house’s backyard.
As it was approaching midnight, a friend of mine pulled out a joint, and we all took a couple of hoots, and before I knew it, we were at a party. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at a massive bonfire party, I was half-drunk and too high. I remember a slight time-lapse, thinking how long ago I moved to this side of the fire and who I was talking to? What were we even talking about? The last thing I recall was a sobering moment as I made fun of our hockey team’s captain. He must have had a good 50 pounds on me.
I remember him saying, you’re lucky your dad is our head coach and that I like you. So after that, I would go on to maybe smoke pot five times until I was just about to turn 21. I had just got a job that made six figures a year and was high stress and a lot of paperwork, organization, and communication between many people.
As the stress levels rose, insomnia gradually worsened, and the nightmares went from only in dreams to be well awake. Early on, I found that when I smoked weed, it would take away my demons, both awake and asleep. It soon became a coin toss, though, because the cannabis would at times help put me to sleep, where at other times, it may keep me awake all night. It was a love-hate bipolar-like relationship during that era with Mary-jane.
It was the night of June 29th, 2013, and it had been a couple of sleepless nights leading up to the point where I would finally catch some sleep about 4:00 am the following day. I woke up to my alarm at 6:30 to go to work. I got up and went into the kitchen to see my brother, my roommate at the time, was getting ready to go to work as well. The problem was he couldn’t hear or see me. I started screaming at him, and it was like I was invisible—like I didn’t exist.
I ran down the street to the few blocks to my mom’s house—the same thing happened with her where she, too, couldn’t see or hear me. Then, after I freaked out again, suddenly, my life flashed in about 2 seconds. I became myself starting when I was born to the moment that led up to me in real-time, and I was in an all-black room with my glowing grandma, who looked ages younger than when I had last seen her. She said, “I’m okay now, Dean.”
Suddenly, I woke up after maybe the most incredible dream I have ever had. From that moment, the nightmares began to dissipate.
To Be Continued…
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