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How Do I Stop the Nightmares?

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From the U.S.: I’ve seen tons of therapists, I talk about my abuse all the time to friends and my girlfriend. I know it was horrible and traumatizing but I feel like I’ve come to terms with it, but I’m still terrified of my parents. I have nightmares that they find me or I’m stuck in their house with them again or they are chasing me and I have to run away from them and hide. I have nightmares about one or both of them every single night. I feel like I’ll never be free of them. Even my psychologist ran out of ideas on how to stop these recurring nightmares.

I don’t talk to them anymore and I haven’t lived with them for almost four years now. They know where I live (because I used to write my grandma letters and she gave them my address) but I know that they can’t hurt me, they have no power over me anymore. But I’m still so terrified of them. How can I stop being so scared of them? How can I stop having these nightmares?

How Do I Stop the Nightmares?

Answered by on -

A.

It sounds like you’ve already done a great deal of recovery work. It must be discouraging to feel so stuck with terrifying memories. I do have a few suggestions:

First, I question whether talking about the abuse all the time is healthy for you. It keeps the bad memories front and center in your mind. I suggest you try focusing on and talking about something different for a few weeks to see what happens. There is research that people feel better when they spend the last few minutes of every day writing down at least 3 things they are grateful for. Those things can be big or small. If you can’t think of anything major, focus on how grateful you are to have running water or to have had lunch that day. Big things can include your good fortune to have your girlfriend and friends in your life as well as for other specific things that happen. Then talk about those things when you talk to your friends.

Second: Talk to your therapist about getting a second opinion. Even the best therapists sometimes run out of ideas. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other good ideas out there. You may need to talk to another therapist or two or three. They will bring their own ideas to the situation.

Finally: If you were seeing me, I’d suggest that we try some hypnosis to see if that would be helpful. I would help you learn some self-hypnosis so that you would have another tool to help yourself. Do talk to your therapist about whether that is advisable in your case.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Stop the Nightmares?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Stop the Nightmares?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/09/07/how-do-i-stop-the-nightmares/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.