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It’s An Absolute Nightmare

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You would think that after so many years on this earth I would have become proficient at sleeping by now.

I mean, it’s a fairly basic skill.

It’s a skill I practice every night, and yet I still don’t seem to have quite mastered it. It takes me a while to power down, and then every so often – usually when I’m stressed out and not even aware of it – I have nightmares. At 5am this morning I sat bolt upright in bed gasping for air like a drowning swimmer who had finally reached the surface. Then I sat, hugging my knees, willing my heart to slow down.

My nightmares are impressive creations. I have an active imagination at the best of times, but at night when I’m asleep it roams completely unfettered. It snakes into every crevice of my brain, unravelling fears I never knew I had and weaving them into intricate storylines of unrestricted horror. Get away out of here with your simple dreams of going to work naked, or running and not getting anywhere! I’m talking hardcore, unforgettable, rated-R for Radically-unpleasant dreams that give me an emotional hangover the next day.

And they are so goddamn VIVID.

I don’t seem to lose any of my senses in my nightmares. I can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. The nightmares tell a coherent story, rather than being a jumble of images. They don’t refer to my day, or my experiences. They just pluck ideas, seemingly at random, out of my brain and project them in stereo sound. They drop me into situations I am entirely unprepared for with zero warning. Not only that, but they always start so innocuously…

‘Well, today we’re going to have a dream,’ my brain starts. ‘Look, we’re at the beach! Isn’t that nice? Let’s just look out the window there. What a lovely view. Check out that glorious sunshine! And look at that woman with the toddler, how cute. Aww, adorable! Now they’re going paddling. So sweet. Now she’s… Now she’s… She’s drowning the toddler. SURPRISE! It’s a nightmare. No, don’t bother even trying to get over there, there’s no way you’ll make it in time.’

Or…

Oh look! A desert! Are we at Burning Man? We might be at Burning Man. That would be cool. Hey remember to shield your eyes, the sand really stings when it gets in there… Ooh! A solitary ramshackle shed! Let’s go over and check it out. I mean there’s nothing else for miles, so why not? There might be something fun in there! Ignore that smell. Ignore it. It’s nothing. All deserts smell like that. It’s just the heat. Open that rickety door there. Go on, open it. I told you to ignore that smell, it’s nothing… Just kidding! It’s a rotting corpse! Look at those maggots. Look at the DETAIL! That’s impressive. Whew, I wonder how long that’s been decomposing…’

Or…

‘Oooh what a lovely house. Look at that crown moulding. Bit sparse on the furniture front, but it’s obviously very grand. Oh look! A baby! We’re babysitting! Isn’t that fun? Look at him crawling around. What a sweetie. Oh! Oh a nose bleed. Do you have a tissue? Quick, get a tissue. Oh no, that can’t be good. Why is the baby bleeding from its ears? Is that normal? I don’t know where you think you’re running to with that baby – I’ve designed this place to be completely isolated! The only real room was the one you were in! The rest of the house is a burned-out shell! There’s nobody for miles! And now the baby is bleeding from its eyes! This isn’t going well for you at all!’

Basically at the end of all of these scenarios you can imagine my scumbag brain laughing at me like a psychotic maniac and that would be fitting.

There are a few recurring themes in my nightmares. I’m usually alone and/or somehow helpless to prevent or fix the situation I find myself in. I am usually either witnessing or somehow unwittingly creating a tragic event. They never happen in real places or with real people; everything is freshly imagined from scratch.

Even though sometimes I know that I am dreaming, I can’t wake myself up until the panic is completely overwhelming and every nerve in my body is screaming. It’s lovely! So invigorating.

That was sarcasm.

If anybody has any advice for keeping nightmares at bay, let me know. I am fully on board with anything that might make me dream of, say, Adriana Lima or Jason Momoa (or both!) rather than bleeding children or traumatic deaths.

Meanwhile…

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0 thoughts on “It’s An Absolute Nightmare

  1. The photo of stewie is so perfect for this post. I can completely relate but my dreams (thankfully) don’t turn into nightmares often however they are oh so vivid. It usually consists of me finding something and being delighted with joy only to wake up and have that sinking feeling in my stomach that it was just a dream. For example, have you ever had a dream where this guy you’ve broken up with reaches out and apologises and all is blissfully well again and you can feel all the feels and emotions. It’s like you can’t control the joy and rightly so because the joy turns into the realisation that it isn’t real… sigh.

    1. Oh God, that’s WORSE! Then it takes you all day to clera the emotional hangover because your head is screwed up completely from this Very Happy Reality that you had to wake up from… Brutal!

  2. That sounds awful!!!! I haven’t had nightmares for a long time but used to get them a lot if i was really uptight about something. I’m not a great sleeper but thankfully no rotting corpses or bleeding babies… I really hope I haven’t just jinxed myself! I hope you get this sorted out soon!

  3. Wonderfully written, but obviously disturbing to hear what you dream about. I have no solutions. My biggest problem regarding dreaming is that I never actually remember them. So if I do startle myself awake such as you describe because of a bad dream, it always vanishes from my mind right away. The most I can say is that it is usually like the worst day of your life sort of dreams, though I know elements of people no longer alive, and memories of a bad car accident I was in years ago creep their way in there as well. I don’t know if it is a good thing or not that I can’t remember them.

    1. I think it’s probably a good thing. I think if my dreams were less vivid I could shake them off far quicker than I do.. Yeah, sorry for the disturbing imagery. I tried to present it as light-heartedly as possible but there’s not really a real way to get around the fact that it’s graphic and disturbing… I didn’t even write about the worst ones!

      1. No need to apologize, it was your dream and it should all be on the table. I’ve had fascinating conversations with people about dreams but I guess what it all boils down to is that no two are alike. Does it stem from a scary movie and little sleep? Too much sleep? Too much caffeine? The parameters are endless, the solution not so apparent. One thing is for sure…I hope you don’t have a repeat again tonight

  4. I had night terrors when I was a child consistently. They only rarely come back now, but now when they do, I know what to do about them.
    I grew up in a christian home, so to us, we are familiar that dreams are not meaningless or “just in our heads,” they are influenced sometimes by our lives, our mind and spiritual influences.
    I memorized Bible verses about captivating your own mind and thoughts (as opposed to opening your mind to other entities). I remember having dreams as a 3 year old who watched NO scary movies about a graveyard and a black horse and rider. Dreams are spiritual too. there are good spirits and bad. Let me know if you are interested in any further info.

  5. I want to (non-creepily) spoon you to sleep or something. That seems absolutely awful! At bare minimum, a gal should be able to sleep soundly at night. Do you find that having someone in bed with you changes the frequency of nightmares? I always sleep better when I’m with someone or spooning my dog or body pillow (whoever loses the coin toss), their presence seems to bring me the sense of security I need to really knock out.

    1. Hahaha thanks! Hmmm no that doesn’t seem to impact me. I think maybe I need to do some exercise to maybe quieten my mind a bit. Maybe my excess energy is being burned off with these elaborate horror stories? Worth a try!

  6. NOPE! I hate it. The nightmares that is. I get nightmares so easily. I probably won’t go into the worst of them but I once had a dream that there was a ghost sitting on top of me pressing down on my chest. Only to have my brother tell me that it probably wasn’t a dream. That kept me awake for a couple days. Another time I woke myself up screaming from a dream. No one else heard it but me though, so I guess that’s a good thing?

      1. Thankfully it wasn’t! I would have been far more shaken if that were the case. My brother just likes to be a jerk and mess with my head. It was definitely just a nightmare but he wanted me to believe that I was dreaming it because it was really happening. I guess similar to the way someone can influence your dream if they’re talking to you while you sleep.

  7. Hi Quinn,
    I’m sad that you are experiencing dreams like that. I am familiar with dreams like that because I am an emergency services worker. Perhaps you are processing traumatic experiences like me… (horror movies or games can cause this too).
    I like to read psalms from the Bible (like 127) before I sleep and that seems to help. You might not be religious, but it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. Also, spending time thinking about something peaceful could help.

    1. Thanks Charles. I don’t actually watch horror films or play video games (unless… unless Guitar Hero is the cause of all this?!) so I’m not sure where it stems from. You’re right that it might be worth a try! Thanks, I’ll let you know how it works for me.

  8. I’m not huge into dream analysis but I know that I get nightmares more when I’m stressed out. You said the recurring theme is the feeling of helplessness and nobody being able to help you. Is there something going on your life that you feel is too big to handle by yourself and nobody is helping?

    I know that certain foods or drinks before sleeping can also cause nightmares. If your sleep cycle is messed up, that can do it too.

    1. I think I need to think about that. I’ve been trying to cut down on dairy before bed because I’ve heard that makes a difference but so far…. Nothing!

  9. Can I blame IKEA for not giving you the proper setting for crafting your dream catcher, cause they’re looking pretty suspicious at this point in time…

  10. I suffer from three types: the normal, vanilla “scary thing oh no it’s like running through treacle” nightmare. Might wake up making a few odd noises, but otherwise yawnworthy. There’s also the “ex girlfriend wants to play and ruin your whole morning emotionally” nightmare. I wish she’d stop doing that. Boring.

    Then, there’s the “huh. That was a weird dream I just had, pity I’m awakOH SWEET JESUS WHO IS THAT MAN AT THE FOOT OF MY BED COME ON THEN YOU HOUSEBREAKING BASTARD AHHHH FUCK WHY CAN’T I MOVE HERE HE COMES” nightmare, which usually involves me waking up screaming in utter terror. The whole time of which I am utterly convinced I’m awake, but can’t move. Fun!

    1. You suffer from sleep paralysis! I’m always so intruiged by that, it sounds totally terrifying but if it’s happened to you before does it feel less scary?

      Also I have to say that dreams that leave emotional hangovers are the worst. That whole thing of lingering feelings hovering over your head the rest of the day is minus fun.

      1. No, it feels batshit mental every time, although it depends on what I’m dreaming about. The way it works is I’ll be dreaming as normal, and dream that I’ve woken up. There will be something going on in the room that I’m sleeping in that may or may not be scary, but what’s terrifying every time is that I can do literally nothing but lie there. One particularly memorable one was having a mouse jumping over me whilst I lay there unable to move – not scary, but it feels very real. You try to get up to do something but you can’t move (because, obviously, you’re still actually asleep!) You can’t say anything because your jaw doesn’t move… However, you can still make loud muffelled shouty noises though, which my wife loves at 3am. The paralisis is pretty scary, but if it’s an intruder you’re imagining it’s terrifying because it feels utterly 100% real. And suddenly, you burst awake, and then you KNOW it was a dream. Unfortunately, your limbs suddenly respond to all those commands they’ve been ignoring for the past minute or so, including the screaming. There’s no graceful way to wake up from one of these things!

  11. Have you seen Who framed Roger Rabbit? My husband screams like toons being dissolved because of his nightmares. It’s truly horrifying but thankfully doesn’t happen often.

    Myself I’m not a big dreamer. And other than the odd one here or there I can never remember. Honestly after hearing Mr S in the middle of the night you can both keep the nightmares!

  12. I feel cheated when I can’t remember my dreams – or nightmares. That feeling gets dissipated quickly when I *do* recall them, at which point, I long for being absent minded again. Thanks for visiting my blogs today, Quinn. I’m enjoying yours!

    Rob

  13. Not sure if my suggestion is too far out of left-field, but here goes…

    About 20-years ago I had cured/solved a specific recurring chronic nightmare that would always wake me at a specific point in the dream and in a cold panting sweat. It did this to me most of my early adult life. Following this phase of my life I then experienced three traumatic real-life experiences that put me into outpatient therapy. Nothing worked regarding the recurring nightmare until I went to an Alternative Homeopathic therapist who also licensed and practiced regressive hypnosis. After only three sessions we revealed what it was, its source, and she eliminated the past-life trauma from my deep memory. Since then (over 20-yrs ago) I have not had the dream once. It is gone. Poof!

    Just a thought for you Quinn. 🙂

  14. I don’t have any tips i’m afraid, I am lucky I don’t usually have nightmares. I do have dreams but they are generally the cannot run, amalgamation of my day kind of dreams, generally nothing interesting and 90% of the time dissipate from my memory by the time I turn the shower on.

  15. Interesting, when I have a nightmare, after I have calmed done, I like to interpret what my subconscious was struggling with. Many dreams seem to stem from emotions that need sorting out. Your dreams are gore fixated, yet you remain unharmed as a mere observer, not encouraging the gore, but a helpless observer watching the “wreck” happen. Is it possible that something in society is troubling you because you know it is wrong, yet you feel powerless to do anything about it? Stop watching the news might help; it has me.

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