Sunday, August 05, 2007

I Don't Eat This Well

I've had anxiety dreams all my life. The first one I remember was when I was 3 and we were camping at my pseudo godfather's pseudo house. He and his then-wife were building a house on some land in Maine and my family went up to hang out in our self-modified 15 passenger van, which is whole post in itself and one for which I'm sorry I don't have pictures. The van was red. This is important because it proves that I dream in color. Anyway, one night either during that camping trip or after it I had a dream in which we were sleeping in the red van in the middle of the very, very tall green pine trees and there were 3 gorillas as big as the trees peering out over the tree tops down at us. I don't remember what they did but I remember it scared the bejesus out of me and that not only did I remember it the next day I still remember it vividly now. I'm 38 now. And a half.

Snake dreams are the biggies. They range from one I had when I was 6 and we were living in the UK in which the entire floor of our flat was writhing with the reptiles and I was jumping around on the furniture trying to get away from them to one I had just last night where I was in a living room and I opened a box and there was a taxidermied snake with an Owen Brothers worthy jaw curled up. They can be weird and I wake up and turn on the light, maybe read a book and go back to sleep pretty quickly. I do remember plenty of times though, especially when I was a teenager, when I would be up fully and there was no way I was going to be able to go back to sleep, turning over made my back tingle as though the snakes were behind me, closing my eyes brought new visions and getting out of bed wasn't an option because I couldn't be sure what was under the bed.

I understand that this sounds psycho but it's the truth. The Tsunami Dream of the other night was one of the ones that kept me up for a long time. I turned on the light, considered the book options within my reach and dismissed them, tried to close my eyes, got up, went into the living room, watched some TV after searching for something suitably foolish (NO PERFECT STORM!) and when all of that ultimately failed finally checked my e-mail. The e-mail helped (for some reason confirmed contact with the outside world sometimes helps) but it wasn't a cure. I was up for about an hour in the living room and it took a while even after I went back to bed. I enlisted the help of a truly stupid sweet book from an old boyfriend to take my mind off things. Last night, 3 nights after the initial dream, I had to go with the same book and a magazine and almost 2 hours to get to sleep.

All of this is to say that if I've ever pooh poohed your efforts to sleep for any reason now is the time to make fun of me in return. Organic Mama was talking about a bout of insomnia a few months ago and I regaled the comments section with my ability to sleep anywhere. Now we can see that I can sleep anywhere except my own bed. What's crazy is that I've had this ongoing battle with the ass monkeys who chit chat far into the night in the courtyard below my bedroom window. After the O Mama discussion I realized that they weren't keeping me from sleeping, my letting myself get all worked up about them was doing it. So now I pretend that I'm in an airport or on a train or something and I don't have trouble sleeping through their bull. I'm guessing, too, that if they'd all been out there gabbing on the recent anxiety dream nights I'd have been able to get to sleep faster.

As usual, I am my own worst enemy.

But this is totally normal, right? This happens to everyone?




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  1. It DOES happen to everyone, even if not everyone is willing to admit it.

    I don't get nightmare-nightmares - like the kind you describe - very often, thankfully. I mostly have anxiety dreams that involve things like my forgetting to go to work, or my misplacing something important. My nightmare-nightmares usually center around loss - one of my cats gets run over, but not quite killed, in the road in front of me; one of my children goes missing; my husband leaves me, whether by death or adultery doesn't matter - I've dreamed both; that sort of thing. I don't recover well from these dreams at all, and they can affect me for weeks after I have them....

  2. I am SO with you. Nightmares, snakes, not so much with the drowning. I remember waking from snake dreams and having to make sure all visible electrical devices in my room were plugged in -- it is amazing how much an electrical cord looks like a snake, fangs and all.

  3. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Yeah, well, I am sorry you've had to experience any sleep disturbance - that sucks no matter how you slice it. I have to manage myself to a bit of an extreme if I am going to sleep well, and I envy those who aren't disturbed at ALL in their sleep. Hate 'em a little bit, if I am honest.

    Aside from the insomnia monkeys that beat on my head, I also have anxiety dreams that have me shaking my head in rejections in my sleep, often propelling me into unwilling wakefulness. You know, the classics; sidewalk is glue and gets me late to a class where they are reading a book I have never heard of I need to take a test, or I've forgotten where my kids are and I am running around trying to find them. nightmares don't often plague me, but there have been stunning exceptions to that, so my sympathies.