From Wikipedia,Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli and a constant scanning of the environment for threats
Hypervigilance, our traumatized kids have it. Unless I am totally unusual, I think all us mom's of traumatized kids have it too.
I LOVE my sleep. I go to sleep easily and return to sleep when woken very easily. It has always been a blessing. My husband struggles with sleep and my ability to sleep well irritates him. This week I have been having difficulty sleeping. My anxiety is definitely higher this week, but behaviors at home have been pretty mellow. The only reason I can put my finger on is that I am currently on a pack of prednisone (a steroid). It makes me hot, like internal fire combustion hot, it makes me STARVING and I am pretty sure it messes with my sleep. So my mind has been on over-drive while laying in the dark.
My husband got up at 5:30 this morning and I was awoken. Somehow within the next 15 minutes all 3 kids ended up in my bedroom. The eldest in a twin size bed that is in our room and the two smaller children in my bed with me. Even if I could have fallen asleep, which I was trying to do really hard, I caouldn't have rested well. I was so concerned that the eldest would awaken and do something to the smaller children. I live in hear that he will make a poor decision that will haunt me for the rest of our lives. I fear that he will either act out sexually or that he will get angry that they will not wake up and play with him that he will hurt them.
As I lay there trying to relax with an arm or a leg over the children so I would know if he moved them (he has tried to drag them out of our bed by their feet before) the word hypervigilance came over me. I became aware of the changes in my body. I was becoming extremely tense and a headache was starting. My legs were twitching and my mind was racing. I realized I kept scanning the room and trying to squint in the dark to make sure he had not moved in his bed. My hearing was heightened as I listened for his bed to make a noise and I realized I was holding my breath while I listened.
Living in an environment like this cannot be good. I have always realized the toll that constant supervision takes on us, but the hypervigilance adds another layer to that physically. What is the answer? I don't know. I suppose we have to change the situations that requires the most hypervigilance when we can. Thinking about it now, I could've woken the eldest and sent him down with the hubby and turned on my door alarm. He really needs his sleep, but it would've been a small price to pay for some much needed rest from the hypervigilance. I suppose I just need to be aware of what my body is telling me and trying to work the environment to make it better.