Just a Dream(er)..?


A stupid song to use in for this post as Ozzy utilises the term ‘dreamer’ metaphorically.  I am, I think, talking in literal terms.  But you might as well enjoy it anyway.

Insomnia.  It’s feckin’ bollocks.

Sleep.  It’s feckin’ great.

Right?

Wrong (again), apparently.  Yet again my body and mind conspire together in an effort to destroy the remaining vestiges of my sanity.  Thanks, me!

I’ve always dreamt a lot; OK, I suppose we all apparently do, but I mean in the sense that I would be able to at least recall that I had dreamt, even if the specifics were lost to amnesiac time-passing.  One phenomenon of which I have been, for the most part, mercifully spared is that of nightmares – and, knowing other people who have histories of sexual abuse etc yadda blah, I know that I am actually incredibly fortunate in that regard.

There have been two notable, and in the grand scheme of things recent, exceptions to this: firstly, when I first started taking #doubleplusungoodofevil Venlafaxine last summer, and secondly in April this year, when I was dealing with the acute after-affects of uncovering so many of my abuse issues in therapy, which resulted in some rather severe bouts of hallucinatory psychosis and despairingly gruesome flashbacks.  To that end, resultant nightmares were hardly surprising, I suppose, but I was pleased to note that they pretty much passed after the immediate awfulness of that period (even if I haven’t got rid of some of the other horrible difficulties entirely).

Anyway, the point if I would ever get to it is that, at the present time, I’m dealing with some really weird experiences during what should be my sleeping hours.  ‘Nightmares’ is the wrong word, I feel.  I might say that they’re disturbing in places, but not exactly frightening (though, having said that, I suppose there is still a semantic debate as to what’s a ‘nightmare‘ and what’s a ‘night terror‘).

The thing is, I’m not sure whether all of these are actual dreams, or whether some of them are hallucinations; sometimes when particularly exhausted, or being between bouts of sleep, it’s hard to determine even if you are awake, or in some half-dozing state of pseudo-consciousness.  Ergo, whilst I believe most of these ‘visions’ are ‘just’ dreams, I’m confused as to whether they all are.

Saturday night was possibly the worst to date.  One incident saw me lying in bed, woozy, only to find that the walls started closing in on me, oozing some sort of weird foam/Amityville Horror-like goo as they did.  Did I dream it, or did I see it?  Either way, rather than wake A up, or get the fuck out of the room, I lay there, paralysed and horrified, though not struck down with the same dumb terror one might expect of the situation.  Perhaps ‘paralysed’ is a key word in that sentence – aren’t your muscles, by and large, prevented from movement during certain phases of sleep?  Then again, the paralysis of fear is certainly not an unknown concept.  Remember the old image of a deer in the headlights, and all that.

That’s only one example of a number of possible hallucinations, but there are other types of ‘visions’ too – ones that are clearly and definitely dreams.  They’re bothering me because of their incredible vividness and believability; they involve people with whom I regularly interact, or at the very least folks of whom I am quite well aware, and they are presented in very believable circumstances – the scenarios in question could very easily happen.  The specifics of all of these experiences are hazy in my memory now, and even if they weren’t they would probably sound fairly innocuous; however to me on waking, and even now on reflection, they are not innocuous at all.

It feels like when I close my eyes, on those normally-welcomed occasions on which I am permitted slumber.  I’m ‘living’ very real events from my own existence, but I am ‘living’ them in a very different way from ‘here’.  This is what I don’t like about it.  Dreams are meant to be dreams – influenced by your everyday existence, certainly, but not usually warpedly (not that that’s a word) mirroring it as if you’ve been sucked through a wormhole to one of the infinite number of lives we all could have under certain theories of astrophysics (M theory?  Certain types of quantum mechanics?  A real manifestation of the Schrödinger’s cat type of philosophy?  Sorry.  There’s no real need for this lofty tangent).

Speculation on physics aside, and I’m not discounting the billion possibilities therein, I obviously don’t believe that I have a parallel life that I’m being zapped into.  Of course I don’t.  But the idea hangs on the periphery of my consciousness and taps at it insidiously.  Who are you, Pandora?  Where are you, Pandora?  Have you any sanity left, Pandora?  NO! Fuck you! And the visions themselves are laced with something more than just a strangely distorted mirror image of my life.  There’s a sinister quality to them that I can’t really quantify – a presence, perhaps, in the background?  Or a feeling of foreboding, maybe?  Whilst in and of themselves the dreams are not per se frightening, there is a lurking sense therein that something unspeakably vile and petrifying beyond description will, without a second’s notice, overcome them (and me) at any time.

This sounds (reads as) incredibly histrionic and exaggerated even to my crazy ears (eyes) but there you go: this is the apparent power of the humble dream and/or humble(-ish) hallucination – they can, apparently, utterly confuse, vex and disturb the fine balance of the psyche.

Sleep is a subject that has always intrigued me intellectually.  Why do we need it at a biological level; why do we dream, and what are dreams ; what even is sleep and what does its nature mean for the features and reality of consciousness/sentience?  These questions and more are ones I have often asked and tried to research.  Now my own mind, yet again in a state of rebellion, wants to muddy the waters of these unanswered and highly speculative subjects even more.

I don’t know why this weirdness has started now.  One possibility is my pissing about with my Venlafaxine dosage (long story based solely on my own laziness – it will be rectified soon) and that would be quite credible a theory but for the fact that said pissing about has only been ongoing for a few days, not the fortnight or so during which I’ve had the dreams/hallucinations.  Another explanation is the presence of Zopiclone to aid sleep – many people have reported weird, vivid, even terrifying dreams whilst taking it.  However, that one fails too as (a) I certainly have not taken it on every night on which this has happened and (b) I’ve taken Zopiclone on and off for years, and it has never produced such effects in me before.  A third consideration is the possibility of my being fucked up by the bloody end of therapy the other week, which I suppose is a theoretically possible hypothesis, but (at least ostensibly) I feel better about that than I ever expected to, so we’d really be getting into Freudian sub-conscious territory if we went with that idea.

Maybe my mind is simply bored with my desultory, non-entity of an existence and wants ‘to go’ somewhere different when it can.  Perhaps it enjoys the adrenaline of hallucinating something potentially horrific or the expectation of the potential occurrence of something evil.

But I don’t.  It’s not fucking pleasant waking up or coming round from this bollocks, and if I were religious I would praying right now for it to go the fuck away.  Perhaps my brain needs to start reading again to mitigate these night-time examples of phantasmagoria.  If only said brain would do me the decency of affording me the focus and concentration to do so.

OK, I’m off to write my sleep-related horror novel now, and hope that it is less floridly ridiculous and rambling than this post was…

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10 thoughts on “Just a Dream(er)..?

  1. I’ve been having very similar situations lately. I’ve sort of been blaming it on the seroquel as I heard it can do that as well. But it’s very odd, It’s sort of like being delirious in a way. Or like you said some weird kind of half-sleep state of consciousness where you’re not sure if you’re awake or asleep.

    Also, I too used to have dreams all the time wherein very very normal and mundane things would happen, and the only way I’d know they hadn’t actually happened was I might speak or say something to a friend and they’d be surprised and tell me that conversation or whatever never happened… and then I’d feel like an idiot.

  2. What you have described in this entry happens to me a few times a month. I am in bed in a sort of slumber. I cannot move and breathing is rather difficult. I am aware of my surroundings as if I were awake. In one of the more terrifying experiences, I was home alone napping and opened my eyes to find an unfamiliar man walk in from the hallway into my room and walk out again. I was convinced that someone had broken in and that he was about to rape and murder me. I came out of the paralysis and softly crept into the living room only to find that the house was empty. My boyfriend and friend walked in and had seen no one leave the apartment. A lot of times it is visual but it can also be auditory and no less disturbing. The really upsetting aspects of this are the paralysis and inability to cry for help.
    I hope these episodes leave you soon and you are able to sleep peacefully. There is nothing worse than fearing ones own bed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis

  3. Fuck: my Mum will bollock me for being still awake… but, I have night terrors – had one last night and ended up with the bathroom light on all night I was so scared. Even with my cat asleep next to me. He of course, can sleep for the Universe… Bastard.

    Will respond more fully when I’m more human tomorrow… feel like I’m changing into the living dead right now…

    X

  4. Hey Pan,

    What you write about in this post sounds sort of similar to something I started to experience back in April this year. They are called hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. I don’t know if it’s the same thing or not as it could well be the medication, especially the Zopiclone, but my psychiatrist called mine hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations.

    Here is a bit I stole from Wikipedia:

    Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, tactile, auditory, or other sensory events, usually brief but occasionally prolonged, that occur at the transition from wakefulness to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wakefulness (hypnopompic). The phenomenon is thought to have been first described by the Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in 1664. The person may hear sounds that are not there and see visual hallucinations. These visual and auditory images are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.

    Does it sound like it could be that?

    *hugs*

    • Yeah – that’s it – I couldn’t remember what the quack told me about it when I saw him last. I mentioned this experience (see my reply to the original post) I had. He said it was nothing to worry about and that it is very common. Hmmm. I’m sure it is, but I felt so disturbed by the first occurrence that I went to see a vicar! He told me that it is often a sign of some sort of spiritual awakening – moving into a new area of self-consciousness – but in a good way. He didn’t put a religious spin on any of it, which I was glad about. quite an enlightened chap actually. Whether it is facing your demons or fleeing from them, it’s still fucked up and weird. I might post on my blog about this: there are some brilliant artistic depictons of this phenomenon… I’ll find pictures and put them on my post…

  5. I had the weird not-quite-sure-if-you’re-dreaming-or-hallucinating-ness when I tried zopiclone and occasionally full on definitely-awake-but-hearing-things hallucinations too. It was usually during the waking up and going back to sleep period too.

    I didn’t take it for long as it didn’t help my sleep much either! I was taking venlafaxine at the same time so maybe the increase in dose, with the zop together has started this off? Add the stress of ending therapy and perhaps the combination is to blame.

  6. Hmm….I get something similar – I won’t bore you with the details – and have just started on Zopiclone in the hope they’ll reduce the frequency, at least for a few weeks while I catch up on some sleep and stop putting the sugar in the fridge and whatnot due to exhaustion.

    Fucking horrible, aren’t they?

  7. Hi,

    Seems to me that some of what you describe is a night terror. I get these from time to time and they are vivid and very disturbing. They seem to occur after I’ve had a catharsis of some sort (or a revelation), and I suspect are the way the mind purges deep discomfort. I’ve had ones where there’s been a voice in my head (not my voice – someone or something else) filled with violence and sexual swearing. It was hideous – it told me to strangle my cousin (who was asleep in the bunk below mine) and when I resisted, I got this terrible pain in my head. the next morning, we realised that I’d left scratch marks on the side of the bed – where I remember I held onto to prevent myself from leaving my bed. That’s when I realised that these night terrors / etc are very nasty. I will never forget picking the splinters out of my fingernails that week and the weirdness of telling my cousin and his mother, my aunt, about the experience the next day. Fortunately, whatever we all believed had happened, they were absolutely convinced that “the voice” was not there of my volition, subconscious or otherwise, and they were very proud of me for resisting what it directed me to do. If this is what some people experience when hearing voices, I can’t imagine what terrors they face…

    There is, however, a BUT in all this: medication. You know, Zopiclone fucked me right up. It made me confused and withdrawn – a babbling mess in fact. And I also used to take Venlafaxine; fucking stuff made me so anxious I had to stop it – I don’t suffer with anxiety like that. The thing we all have to remember at the moment is that the companies that make these drugs have no idea what the long term effects are. But, if you suffer with sleep disorder, it’s going to make you feel hideous anyway: I do, and I’m medication free, so I know what an impact that this can have on my moods. That said, I wasn’t abused like you were, so I don’t have a feeling of latent evil hovering in my childhood memories. Maybe there’s more stuff for you to talk about – feeling like prey, as you no doubt did for a long time; surely that has got to send you round the bend at some level. I know that it would make me lose sleep, no matter how old I was after the event.

    I really, really sympathise with you. Keep talking and don’t give up on getting your therapy reinstated if you feel you need it…

    Big kiss and hugs X C

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