For a couple of years now, I’ve been dealing with a sleep problem that I’ve been unable to diagnose. At least one week or so every month I am awakened by my body in the middle of the night. The symptoms are always the same, even if I don’t experience them all at the same time. I wake up covered in sweat (like drenched so bad that I am literally dripping and my wife has admonished me not to put my pajamas in the clothes hamper until they dry off or they begin to mildew…) My stomach kills me with a combination of nausea, acid reflux and diarrhea and even occasionally vomiting. I wake with headaches, my eyes burning with fatigue as if I’d been staring at a bright screen all day. I also have symptoms of a panic attack, such as my heart racing and trouble catching my breath. But the most important thing is that I have no idea what causes these episodes. I can go weeks without one, then have a bad night, then three or four days of nothing, then have a week’s worth of troubled sleep, and so on…
Occasionally I will remember snippets of dreams that I’ve had, (anyone who watches my animated YouTube series, “In Your Dreams” will know they can be freaky) but on the whole, my cannabis habit usually prevents me from remembering what they were.
Until that is, the current COVID-19 pandemic has led me into forced sobriety. Due to the necessity for social distancing, my avenues of supply have *ahem* ‘dried up.’ After about a month of sobriety, I’ve surpassed all of the usual withdrawal symptoms of lack of appetite, irritability and apathy. My dreams however have continued to increase in length, vividness and depth of recall, and all I can say about these dreams are:
I miss not remembering them.
I mean - dreams are, in and of themselves an incredibly interesting shared experience. We all have dreams that no one else but us can experience. No matter how well we describe them, they always fail to capture the actual experience, and most times they test other people’s patience when we describe them. Again, I’ve created an entire animated series in exploration of my dreams.
What I’m talking about now are not the usual, ‘I’m in a high school class but I can’t find my homework… or my pants’ - kinda shit. What I’ve been experiencing since I’ve sobered up without my ‘medicine’ can only be described as twisted and warped. I guess what you might call nightmares.
In the past month, I’ve had a dream that I was a serial killer, complete with vivid depictions of me murdering random people my dream invented, while my dad and brotha were hunting me down fugitive style. In this dream I couldn’t run fast enough to get away and had to hide in what I later discovered was the lion’s cage at the zoo. I had a dream I was entrenched in a religious cult compound (like the Branch Davidians) in which I tried to convince people that they were captives and that the man holding them captive was not actually God. I did this by first levitating, and when no one reacted favorably to that, I purposefully exploded by chest like a bomb, splattering the room with my internal organs and using my shattered and protruding rib cage as teeth to tear apart the ‘true-believers’ with my chest/mouth. I had a dream that I was sexually assaulted by a family member (I’ll just omit the details of this one.) In another dream I visited an old college professor (and mentor) of mine who passed away a few years ago in waking life. In the dream my study group went to his house to ask for instruction on a group project he had assigned us, and after obtaining his help in spite of his illness, we left to discover that he lived at the top of an impossibly high stadium structure that I had to climb down a shit-ton of precarious scaffolding in order to leave.
Then last night I dreamt that my grandfather was selling our house because it was full of bats. In this dream I needed to pee really bad, but there were crowds of people touring the open house for sale and I couldn’t use the bathroom to pee (or for some reason I really wanted to take a shower.) Then it turned out that the reason for all the bats was that the house was haunted by ‘the man with no soul’ – a ghost who was able to walk through doors and walls terrorizing us until I revealed that I was ‘the man with no face’ wherein I physically grabbed the ghost and ate the face right off him by sucking his whole head into my mouth and chewing on it.
What the fuck is wrong with me? Do I always have dreams like these that I just don’t remember? No wonder I wake up in cold sweats.
Texans – tell your state representatives to vote yes on SB140 to legalize recreational marijuana in Texas ‘cause I don’t want to remember the gross shit that goes on in my subconscious.
I know that 2020 has been a stressful year for us all, and I in no way am trying to minimize the suffering of others who have lost loved ones, lost jobs and homes, gotten sick themselves or had to endure racial and political violence at the hands of the Nazi supporting GOP and the right-wing hate groups that support them. However, even though I consider myself to be a reasonably well-adjusted individual when I’m awake, apparently when I’m asleep I’m a goddamned monster.
Speaking with other Oneironauts usually yields the same advice. Write down your dreams, ask your subconscious what the dream, or aspects of the dream means, and try to use your dreams to explore your dreams.
For me at least, I need to be clear – this does not work. As I have explained in my web-series it is a far cry between knowing in a dream that you are dreaming, and being able to control the dream. In my experience the decision making process of my dreams is completely out of my control. I can only remember a small handful of dreams throughout my entire life in which I both knew I was dreaming, and was able to consciously choose a course of action. Most times, if I realize that I am dreaming, I will immediately wake up. And far more often than that, I have no idea that I am dreaming, and decisions I make have no bearing on what I would consciously choose to do if I were really in that situation and awake.
I know other potheads (pronounced “smoke weed ‘erry day”) who also claim to remember dreams more vividly when they begin to sober up, but I don’t know of any whose dreams progress into more and more horrific scenarios like mine do.
At this point, I’m almost in a place where I don’t care if I get or give COVID so long as I can score a sack and sleep through the night again. I’d still be waking up in sweaty panic attacks, but at least I’d like to go back to not knowing why.