I am Portuguese, I live in Lisbon, I am 43 years old, married for the second time (for 20 years). I have a son from my first marriage aged 23 and a daughter from my second marriage aged 11. I have a happy marriage and I find my relationship with my husband high above the average of the common relationships between couples. I don’t have either economic problems or health problems, I have lots of friends and I am quite a sociable person. I work at home as a freelancer, in a business that gives me great pleasure (I do research for books and I translate books and films for children). I travel a lot and lead a kind of life that is considered enviable by the great majority. I’ve never been raped, or victim of any kind of abuse, and I have never been in a war. I love the sun, intellectual people with uncommon or different ideas, literature and mind challenges. I like history of religions and mythology. I love extremes and hate everything that is considered average.
1) When I was about 3 years old I started to see, siting in my living room, a little boy that stared at me. This vision lasted until I was 5 and I refused to enter the room because the vision inspired in me a feeling of panic. However, I remember that I enjoyed to watch the little boy trough the glasses of the door. Whenever I looked he used to smile to me in an ironical way. My parents redecorated the room but they can’t specify when this vision was over. Today I can still describe the little boy, how he was dressed and if I could see him again I would recognize him among thousands of little boys. The vision was tridimensional.
2) Since my early childhood I have been suffering from episodic periods of nightmares. Until I was twelve I even used to dream regularly with the same three.
3) In my early teens (between 12 and 14) I used to imagine that I was someone else (like another self) acting deliberately with a personality quite different from my own. When I was playing that role I didn’t respond to people when they called my real name.
4) I speak aloud in my sleep.
5) My father and daughter also suffer from nightmares.
Type of dreams:
• Always dreams involving extreme violence (lots of blood, people ripped apart with entrails or brains scattered all over, people with mutilated arms or legs, etc.). Some times these dreams are with my father or daughter and other times with people I don't know.
• I remember 90% of my dreams with a clear sensation of colors, smell and details.
Frequency of nightmares:
Variable, it might occur once each three months, once a month, several times a week, or in the worst crisis, daily for periods of three days, one week, and in the present case they last for about three months.
Characteristics of the dreams:
• Most of the times (around 2/3) I wake up in panic, with such a vivid sensation that it takes me some time to realize it was a dream. In this type of dreams I wake up sweating, shaking and screaming with great suffering. Sometimes I have to get up and go to the living room to calm down and other times I have to turn on the light and wait 30 minutes to understand that it was only a dream. Usually these nightmares occurs 3 hours after having fallen asleep.
• Other times these dreams occur minutes before waking up after a whole night of sleep. They are equally frightening and I feel an uneasiness during part of the day because they are really difficult to erase from the mind.
• Rarely, I have dreams during sleep that don’t bother me. Despite the horror of the images, they seem normal to me and only when I wake up and remember the dream I realize the horror.
I usually wake up very tired, depressed and agitated with the feeling that I haven’t had enough sleep.
I try not to emphasize my dreams, erase them from my memory during the day and live with this. However when the episodes are too frequent I get very anxious, distressed and I am afraid of going to sleep.
I feel this is ruining my life, I don’t feel like going out with friends anymore, I feel unhappy, I’ve lost my sexual desire.
• Is this a common case known by medicine?
• Could I have a lack of some vitamin that causes these disturbances in my brain?
• Should I seek help? Where? (In Portugal there aren’t sleep clinics or doctors specialized in this type of disorders)
• Can you help me?
--Nusha, Age 43, Lisbon, Portugal