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.
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…