In addition to everything in Part One, I have this neat thing that happens when if I sleep, that’s really quite technical and very detailed.
The general gist of it is: my brain cannot differentiate between dreams and reality.
Essentially, due to some sleep issues identified during a medical sleep evaluation, I frequently (as in several times a minute) wake up just enough for my dreams to imprint on my conscious mind as ‘real’ before dropping back down into sleep. So I am awake enough for my brain to say ‘this is not a dream’ but it happens too fast to actually break me out of the dream and into full consciousness. I also have very long and distinct dream periods, so these ‘real dreams’ are often very long and very detailed.
I feel it’s important to point out that this is different from having ‘vivid and realistic dreams,’ because unless I make a conscious effort and constantly remind myself, it was not a dream.
Now try to imagine that every dream you’ve ever had, every surreal experience, every nightmare, was absolutely real.
When I heard this from the doctor, it was like I’d found the final piece of some vast, complex puzzle and suddenly so many things, from as far back as I can remember, made perfect sense.
When I was younger, this often manifested itself so I would remember conversations and events that no one else did. But as I’ve gotten older, my dreams have become… darker. Sometimes it takes more than a week to cope with things that never really happened. Sometimes I find myself out of bed and across the room when whatever I’m looking at just… disappears. And I usually remember these dreams for years, to the point where I can actually cross reference them.
But here’s the thing, right? I have a pretty excellent memory. And, as far as I can tell, I do not have any dissociative disorders.
And sometimes I think the recent (as in the last decade or so) darkness of my dreams is not a sign of a highly disturbed mind, or underlying mental illness, but is my brain’s way of protecting me.
Maybe my subconscious figured out what was happening long before I heard it from a doctor, and compensated by making my dreams so dark and strange that it would be easier for me to tell them apart from reality. Sure, it means I’ve had to live through some pretty crazy stuff, but I can look around and see there clearly hasn’t been some catastrophic, plague-like event, and bookmark that memory as suspect.
And really, hardly any of them are actual nightmares, they just kind of sound that way. In fact, it’s the ones that don’t sound scary that usually are.
Are you lost? See Part Three