The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


December 19, 2006

Name: Tadpole
Posting date: 12/19/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url:

I have been having quite a bit of trouble sleeping lately. This has worked wonders for my ability to get a lot of reading and writing done, but it has not helped my physical condition. I have been exhausted due to a lack of sleep. I am seriously considering going to see a doc, but I don't want to be a whiner. I'll go if it gets too rough.

When I do sleep, I have been having really weird dreams. Usually about being shot at, or things blowing up around me, and recently I had a dream that I was walking up an extremely narrow pass, on an extrmely high rock wall, and I fell off. As in most falling dreams, before I hit the bottom I woke up.

Last night, though, I had an unusual dream that got me to thinking. I dreamt that I stepped on an old Soviet mine, and it blew me to kingdom come. When the mine exploded I woke up with my heart racing, and I was a little disoriented. Here's what got me thinking: I grew up in the 80s, and I always wanted to join the military. As a child I assumed that I would grow up and fight Soviets, and kill Russians. Of course, by the time I joined the military, the Soviet empire had collapsed and the Russians were our friends. C'est la vie. How ironic would it be if a Soviet mine did me in? Wouldn't that somehow seem strangely appropriate?

What is even stranger is that today a stray dog wandered into a mine field, and didn't get too far before he found a mine. For a couple of moments it was raining dog meat. An interesting phenomenon, to say the least. A buddy of mine was so startled by the blast that he spun around and locked and loaded. No doubt that if there had been an enemy there, it would have quickly become a dead enemy.

I'll tell you this, I have never been much of a religious man. And I am not overly superstitious (maybe a little). But there is one thing, and one thing only, that I will accept completely on blind faith. And that is a sign that says 'Mines'. You tell me that an area is a mine field, and I will believe you, no questions. Mines are scary things, and it only makes them scarier that they still work after all these years.

I'm just glad I wasn't the dog.


Glad you weren't the dog, too. Hope you get some help sleeping. God knows there's plenty to keep you awake. Falling dreams. I have those too. And being shot at. And I live in peaceful Virginia. I think some dreams are just universal. Take care.

(sorry, posted this under the wrong blog-I don't sleep well either!)


Tadpole, dreams like these are common to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. What have you defined as 'too rough'? Better you should 'whine' a little and get some help now (is it whining when your are running low on ammo? how is running low on sleep any different?), rather than put yourself and your team at risk because of sleep deprivation. Come home soon, dear one.

Tadpole...go see your doc. You're exhibiting classic symptoms. Nonetheless it should help to write and talk about it. Stay safe.

Tadpole... I do not know much about PTS, but I do know you need to see the doctor... A body that is not getting enough sleep has all sorts of wierd things happen to it... You brave soul, go get help... Remember Hawkeye from Mash? He was the sanest person there, and he even need to see the doc... Go and God be with you ...

Well if you'd like to know, it is true, everyone gets those dreams at some point. But falling dreams i learned mean that you feel that you are not in control. If you experience these (like me), it may mean u feel like you have no control of what is happening.

Dreams, I haven't worn a military uniform for twelve years and I am always wearing one in my dreams and running around barracks with broken toilets with crap on the floor, and running along the long roads some where at a double time. Then there are a few of the sweaty ones, see the doctor, see the chaplain, see a stranger that could be an angel and talk about your fears and dreams, having them isn't a problem living them would be. Take care out there, the mines always work at the worst possible moments.

Command just left my office. Worries he is crazy, for having combat dreams. Worried about even being here(shhhh mental health). Won't say what they are just talked about cold sweats and feeling like he can't talk to anyone. Still combat driving after being back for a good bit of time also. You know, lane changes, trash day, looking up on the highway, loud noise the whole list. Might mean he is weak or worse crazy. Takes more guts to talk than to stuff all that till you go off like a land mine in the cold. Keep safe. Get help.

You are not a whiner. You are made of meat, like the rest of us, and meat has its' limits. Do the right thing and take of care yourself, use every resource availible to you. Don't worry, the infrastucture isn't going to be overly generous with you. This isn't a matter of choice, it's a nessesity. Btw, if you think about it, your dreams don't really sound that weird; given your situation. Good luck!


Please don't sweat the dreams so much. They're normal for what you've lived.

Please do go talk to someone about them. They'll probably tell you that you're responding to your stimuli within a normal range. They may possibly (depending on needs of the service, etc) offer you some options to choose from. Pick each option in turn. Keep your choice to yourself and think about it for a couple days. Then pick the next option. After you've gone through the list by yourself, stick to the one that you felt best about. Then go discuss that choice with whoever is affected.

But again, please understand that you are responding normally to what you've been through. You are a human, and dreams are how humans process and integrate experience.

your dreams are telling you to be safe. I thank all the people who are serving our country every day,for without YOU this world would really be screwed up. I just became a grandmother 2 years ago and I look at his beautiful face and wonder what his world is going to be like ,,, thanks to all of you he might grow up to have a WONDERFULL WORLD PLEASE PLEASE SAY SAFE and once again GO SEE THE DOCTOR. LOTS OF LOVE AND THANKS. XOXOXOXO BOSTON MA

Tadpole, I'm so glad you weren't the dog. Please go see the Doc. Your dreams are telling you to go to the Doc. Please go. Be Safe, Be well.

Let me add my voice to the chorus. Talk to a doc. Your cortisol levels are probably off the chart, a NORMAL reaction to the situation you are in. If you had the bloody runs, you'd see a doc. This is something similar but in your endocrine system. It can be helped & you will feel & sleep much better. I've seen this; my husband was a medic in "that 60s war."

Melatonin. Take four tabs 1/2 hour before sleep. Takes about a week to kick in.

Oh, yeah. Dreams are just the brain shedding useless crap. Don't mean nothin'

Cheu Hoi from across the generations.


There is a technique called guided dreaming. It is pretty old and the first tale that I heard of it was an Indian father whose son dreamed each night that he was stalked and killed by a tiger. His father walked him through his dreams, arming him with a little gun until the boy could turn in his dreams and shoot the tiger before it leapt.

The technique actually works. You can learn to guide your own dreams. It does work best with recurrent ones but there is also armor you can cast yourself into regardless of what you dream. You need to dream the uglies so your brain can manage to keep you alive when you are awake but the uglies can really screw up your sleep so learning how to manage your dreams should help.

Each time you lay down to sleep, imagine yourself in a gently glowing suit of armor. This armor is impervious to bullet or bomb, covers from crown to little toe and yet is as thin and flexible as skin. It keeps your body at a perfect temperature. It does not hinder your movements. It allows you to see the souls of the newly, even horribly, departed from your dreams fly to the heavens as wonderfully colored glows that cause their earthly remains to dull to dust. It allows you to hover and float. You cannot fall. No matter where you go, the armor goes with you.

You will still have to manage the waking uglies in the same state of perpetual readiness and constant boredom as always but the dreams - those you can change.

See your Doc for his input!! But let me share, as well, a technique I used in a tough and stressful time of my life. Once in bed I would start with consciously relaxing my body starting at my toes and working up. I would repeat over and over in my mind that I was relaxing "X" and that it was limp and so comfortable etc. When I got to my face I would make sure I had relaxed all those muscles and then I tackled my mind. By this time it was as though only my mind existed! I addressed all the relaxing techniques to my mind. I told myself that I was going to sleep deeply and refreshingly and that only if there was an immediate need or danger would I awaken, mentally fully alert, before the time I was alotting myself for sleep. This may all seem silly except that it worked!! It came to be that when I started the technique I got to the point that I immediately was half way there and almost totally relaxed. It was, I guess, a sort of self hypnosis but was a very powerful help during a difficult time in my life. Sleep, restful sleep is an incredibly healing aspect of our lives.

God bless you and keep you. I have you in my prayers. See the Doc and finally, Merry Christmas, Tadpole.

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