My troublous dreams this night doth make me sad.Henry VI, Part II, I.ii.22
Shakespeare often says it better than anyone else, as in Gloucester’s line above. Looking back on my musings of the past 101 days, I realize that I haven’t addressed one of the issues that, for me, is kind of the “elephant in the middle of the room.”
At the beginning of the quarantine, I did not notice much of a difference in my sleep patterns or my dreams. I have always had intense dreams – vivid and colorful and quite bizarre in general. So weird dreams are nothing new.
A few weeks into the quarantine, I began to wake up feeling a bit more tired than I normally would. I was still managing to get at least eight hours of sleep, and the sleep felt restful to me physically, but I would still wake up most days with a general sense of fatigue. At first, I figured it might be because of my inactivity or perhaps too much alcohol or maybe even watching the wrong things on Netflix before going to bed.
Note – don’t watch anything dystopian about the end of the world during a pandemic. Just saying.
What I have come to realize lately, however, is that my morning fatigue has been the result of disturbing dreams. I don’t recall the specifics of most of my dreams lately, but they have verged on nightmare. Oh, nothing overly dramatic like running from packs of ravening vampires or falling from a great height towards spiky shards of crystal. I have had those in the past, but not lately.
No – these nightmares lately have seemed relatively normal in theme, but overlaying them has been a pervasive sense of doom and fear. I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night from a dream, remembering some of the rather mundane details, but feeling intense anxiety and fear. I have even awakened a few times sweating despite the cool air conditioning in my apartment.
Whatever the specifics actions of the characters in my dreams lately, they all seem to be desperate in some way. People and things in the dreams are often trying to accomplish something that they cannot quite accomplish. Often, they are trying to find something that they cannot find. As a character in my own dreams, I seem lately to be following others and participating in their anxious searches for something undefined.
Many of my traditionally normal dream characters have been notably absent. Lately, I have been dreaming about people and places from my farther distant past. People who have rarely appeared in my dreams are making appearances now, and even though none of them seem sinister or dangerous, I still wake up feeling a sense of dread and fear.
I have recently attempted to program my dream state in advance. I have watched happy, feel-good kind of shows on Netflix, or read uplifting and inspirational things before bed. I hoped that might help. It did not. Last night, for instance, I watched something called “Absurd Planet” on Netflix – funny, short episodes about funky and cool animals, written in a humorous and wacky kind of fashion.
No luck. I still had intense and exhausting dreams again last night. If dreams are about processing deep, subconscious things, then clearly I have a wellspring of drama in my deeper subconscious that needs to work itself out. I just wish I could identify it in a more conscious fashion and face it head on. This nightmarish series of nightmares is wearing me out.
Let’s hope that Sylvia Browne was correct when she wrote, “Nightmares are releases.”
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.