I woke up at 5.30 this morning with a small tearful person putting on the light and climbing into bed absolutely convinced that Zombies were coming to get him. I do not understand this obsession in the media with zombies. They get run as advert breaks between Minecraft tutorials on You Tube so if you are a twelve year-old boy they are pretty much inescapable and perfect fodder for restless minds to twist into nightmares at night.
Motherhood brings many strange-o'clock conversations and you learn the art of switching from deep sleep to instant compos mentis. I therefore found myself speaking reasonably lucidly (given the hour and the subject matter) on the brain's capacity for exaggeration in the dark.
Nightmares are horrible. Thankfully I've never had more than a handful of bad dreams (real life has dealt far worse!). At a recent child psychology lecture the speaker talked at length about the fear period that all teens go through. It is a natural developmental phase and as such it is an important part of their transition from child to adult. This is why many eleven to fifteen year olds suddenly want to go back to sleeping with a light on, start having nightmares and become worried about venturing out into the world of new experiences.
Years ago I did some work with a therapist who had studied psychological responses to fear stimuli, in particular the way children react to the things that frighten them. She taught me some simple but powerful tools which I have used over the years with patients and our own small people for making things seem less frightening and returning control to the mind- in children you make these things very visual.
L has an active imagination (inherited from me, my mother and her mother) and one day he will be pleased it is there. Creativity is such an important part of life, but for now, with hormones surging and all his energy going into getting taller and stronger, controlling his imagination is at times proving hard for him. Even awake curled up snug beside me and obviously safe he was still frightened, so this is what we did:
"Imagine a strong box made of unbreachable wood with silver hinges that can hold anything you put in it. Make the zombies shrink until they are tiny and powerless and can only squeak. Scoop the zombies up with a blue net and put them in the wooden box then close the lid. Wrap heavy grey chains around the box and bury it in the brown earth beside a big strong oak tree which has a wide protective canopy of green leaves. For good measure, put a bright white force-field of light over the tree and the place where you buried the box. Those zombies will never get out."
It worked, and he fell back to sleep. I didn't. I lay awake with my mind moving over things (college related) and then became aware of the tell-tale flickering lights of a migraine starting in my left eye. When I looked at the clock sure enough half the time wasn't there.
Migraines are my fear, because years ago when I was seven months pregnant with L I had one so bad I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a suspected stroke. It petrified me, paralysed me all down my left side so I couldn't move, took my voice away so all I could do was mumble inarticulate sounds and left my tongue feeling like a piece of swollen flesh that belonged to someone else. I thought I was going to swallow it. I was also terrified for L, who as it happened wasn't remotely affected, judging from the heart-rate monitor they hooked us both up to.
That time it passed within a couple of hours, feeling came back, the lights diminished and I was left with a headache the like of which no hangover can ever remotely compete with. The second time it happened it took my memory for over an hour, so that simple things like the names for doors and windows were completely beyond me, which was unsettling to say the least. The third time it took all the names of the people I love, which was far worse. It did return them, but it scared me witless nevertheless.
The ferocity of these attacks have gradually diminished, and now I just need to lie quiet and still, get some arnica down my neck and wait for them to pass. They don't usually take away names or paralyse me anymore, but they do knock the following day out, which is a pain.
Ho Hum. Such is life.
The increasing agitation of the air outside in preparation for the storm that is coming has got something to do with it I am sure. I am always unsettled by prolonged windy weather. It makes me feel restless and agitated and I can't settle while it lasts. I have to be careful if I'm by the sea on windy days for similar reasons- I love the power in the crashing waves, it's exhilarating, but more than once that fierce unbridled energy has brought on a migraine.
I have patients who love the wind and I think it has something to do with where you grew up. One of my patients is a Channel Islander where she says it is often windy and so, to her, high winds represent home and she is peaceful among them. Me, I grew up on Chalk and Clay where fields and valleys protected us from whistling winds and so that kind of weather isn't good for me.
I find the absence of Chalk affects me profoundly for the same reason and I struggle living where we do because it is damp and claggy and doesn't drain well. Rocks and weather- I think they have more to do with our essential peace of mind than we realise.
I'm umming and ahhing about putting the moth box out tonight. On the one hand it hasn't been out all week and I miss my moths, on the other I'm not sure it's a terribly good idea with the wind blowing a hoolie, and on the third (can you have a third hand?) it is half term next week, so it might be more sensible to do it then.
In the mean time, as I'm stuck in bed nursing a headache which makes moving about painful I shall use the time to read up on Shield Bugs, having rescued a rather gorgeously marked one from the road at college yesterday where he was in imminent danger of being squished by an approaching car.
Off on a complete tangent, and not something I usually do here, have a listen to this piece of music. It's All The Little Lights by Passenger and I've been listening to it all week. If you like it the album is worth checking out too.
Till next time, have a fabulous weekend,