Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strange Dreams, Anyone?

Skinny Vegan asked me to expand more on my comment about being a lucid dreamer. If I try to explain everything I think is important, it will take too long so I thought I’d post an actual dream I recorded two years ago. First, I few quick FAQ about my dreaming experiences:

  • Since I was a toddler, I’ve talked about my dreams. I remember dreams every night, usually several. I lucid dream, experience sleep paralysis awareness, have out of body experiences (which are actually vestibular disturbances) and I experience intense sensations. This happens at least a few times a month and sometimes several times a night.
  • I do not understand what it’s like to sleep “normal”. As soon as I drift off, I dream and there is no true rest from thoughts or stimuli.
  • I understand a lot of the biology and physiology behind these sleeping experiences. I cannot speak for others, but I have no reason to believe that I am having a paranormal or supernatural (religious or other) experience. However, I think dreams are very important and that taping into an altered state of consciousness- There’s no drug or other experience that compares. The dream I’m posting is after a lifetime of these types of dreams. To me, this is a discipline that can be practiced and somewhat mastered but not in the sense of control. In fact, the key to lucid dreaming is to let go of fear and to let go of having control. It’s about total acceptance (remember the Fight Club scene I posted- it says it all) and being ok with not knowing, not having all the answers. It’s not giving up or blind faith. I think my dreams want me to truly trust myself and in dreams, I believe, you can’t lie to yourself.

Here are a few abbreviations and terms to know:

  • SP- Sleep Paralysis
  • LD- Lucid Dreaming
  • OBE- Out of Body Experience
  • D- My Husband

I never let anyone read my dream journal so this is kind of weird. It's long and I'm sorry for all the long posts, but I can't post this one any other way. It’s hard to follow but this is how I recorded it over two years ago:

Feel asleep around 2:15 or 2:30am.

At 3:15am I was woken up by a loud noise (it was nothing but the startle kept me awake for a while).

Since I had only been asleep for a couple of hours and I was up for about an hour after the noise, I knew there was a good chance I was going to “go down the rabbit hole”. I can predict fairly accurately when “its” going to happen. Like 90% accurate.

I told my husband (D) that it’s probably going to happen (which is code for all things dream related). He recommended that I take a klonopin since I was anxious about it. However, I was curious to see if I was right. I knew it might be unpleasant but I thought it would be a good opportunity to see if I was right.

It was 4:30am, maybe closer to 4:45. D went to smoke a cigarette. I purposely lay on my stomach knowing this was a good position for OBE’s and SP’s. However, I can experience it in any position.

As soon as I turned over onto my stomach, I started feeling the head thing- waa,waa,waa – zapping sounds-whizzing sounds. I could still hear the TV and the sound of D outside. I felt the sensation of lightness. It always starts in my arms. They feel weightless and begin to float up while my body is still on the bed. It’s a slow, gradual process and a phase that I am usually able to pull myself out of. I’ll start to feel my head raise, then my chest. But then I usually come partly out of it. I wanted to tell D about it.

I kept slipping back into it. It was difficult to fight because of the overwhelming tiredness I felt from having only an hour of sleep (I had entered REM and was dreaming when I was first woken by the noise).

While experiencing the floating sensation, I begin to fear that maybe it was really happening (which means I was losing some of my lucidity and grasp since I know I am not really floating). I was afraid of freaking D out and I began to do my “Am I Dreaming” Checklist.

I started to struggle to get back down to the bed. I began panicking even though I knew what was happening. I knew if I struggled it would turn into a negative experience. I also knew that if I let go, I might slip into a very strange world, deeper in which means harder to get out. I wasn’t so sure I was ready for it because I knew that I would also probably get sucked into the dream which can be terrifying. I should also note that at times I’m ok with it. I try to have a warrior mentality (silly but it works) and accept the experience. Plus, I know that once I wake up, I will no longer hold on to the fear (I’m talking about raw, you’re going to die and it’s time to face it fear). In fact, it’s quite exhilarating to realize it not real. But I also know that the dream world does not abide by the real world sense of time. I know that the experience lasts at most a couple of hours (not all SP or OBE, but it’s a lucid dream filled with moments of it as well as extreme pain) but it can seem much longer, sometimes days, even weeks.

When I started to struggle, I found it difficult to pull myself out of it. I felt as if I was being pushed faced down in the bed, being smothered. I was no longer able to snap myself out but I felt certain D would notice something. I thought I was moving a little and I could hear myself moaning. Also, I thought D was still awake and that he would say something to me like goodnight.

I finally wrestled myself awake. I sit up in bed, feeling as if I had been thrashing. I was out of breath but my heart wasn’t pounding. In fact, I wasn’t really out of breath or breathing hard. It was in my head. I was out of breath in my head.

Only about 15 mins had passed since I first tried to go to sleep. All of that happened in 15 minutes. It felt much longer. D was already in bed. He was barely awake and I asked him if he heard me or saw any movement. He said I had not made any noise or movement. In fact, he says that he has never seen me move or make any noise (keep in mind he usually is always asleep before me). I told him it had happened and I knew it was going to keep happening. He was too tired to talk and it was nearing 5:15am.

I decided to go back in, to be the warrior. I had a multitude of experiences, many of them mashed together. What I want the most is OBE but I tend to chicken out or let go, causing myself to slip into a dream with SP and pain and other sensations. I lose my grip on knowing what’s happening and I slide into a dream incorporating the sensations. The dreams incorporated the night’s events, causing the dream to seem even more real because it picks up where my waking life left off. This is an element that causes me to come to the conclusion that what’s happening is real and not a dream.

I felt my face swelling and it became impossible to speak. My jaw felt intense pressure (this time more my jaw and not my teeth). It was if something was prying them open. I was gagging from this and the sensation of my throat swelling shut creating an intense choking sensation. I was trying to remain calm as I realized that panicking would make it even more difficult to breathe.D was there but he wasn’t noticing what was happening.

At some point, I started begging to go to the ER (last week I had a migraine and wanted to go to the ER). D turned around and the voice of my father came out- “What the hell do you expect for them to do for you there?” It was just a split second, as if my father came out of D and then it was over. The message from my father kept going in my head:

  • This isn’t real so doctors can’t help you.
  • There is no medicine or treatment for this.
  • It’s your fault this happens. If you weren’t so neurotic, crazy, weak, you wouldn’t have these fake experiences.

I woke occasionally during these experiences, finally turning on my side thinking it would stop it. But the last dream was the last draw for me. I woke up all the way, but I was still groggy and new it would happen again. I was worn out. It was only 6:30am meaning that the experiences occurred between 5am and 6:30am. It felt like hours and hours. I decided to take a klonopin since it seems to be the most successful in stopping the experience. Ambien would not have been a good choice.

When I finally got up around noon, I wasn’t disturbed or concerned or morbidly consumed with the experience. I found it fascinating. Exhilarating.

It's only been in the past couple of years that I've been able to let go of the ominous depression that followed each experience. The relief is indescribable and has brought me peace. There were times I thought the silent suffering would be the death of me, but it was worth it. I sound insane, don't I?

Still, there is a heavy and longstanding loneliness that stems from having no one to talk to that remotely understands. I’ve never met anyone that has had significant experiences with this. Maybe SP a couple of times and maybe a few OBE’s from a handful of people over the course of my life. Most of them think it’s paranormal. They think it’s inviting demons. Many would say that it was a demon holding me down, smothering me. I’m not afraid of the supernatural. I’m not trying to rationalize my experience in a way that won’t allow for a supernatural or paranormal element. But it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve even tried to talk to “spirits” in my dreams. Calling them to show themselves because I remember what people say. But this seems to be so subjective and a part of the human psyche. It’s an altered state of consciousness, allowing me to explore who I am on all levels, even physical. I know the pain isn’t physically real. What I feel is as real as when it happens in the waking world because it's all in my head. All pain is in the head. The only purpose pain serves is to warn us of danger but pain isn't harmful. The difference in my dreams is that there is no real trauma or damage being done to my body. I feel intense pain, worse than any pain I’ve ever experienced. Pain that feels like it would kill me. It still happens to me now. However, the fear upon waking seems to dissipated quickly. I don’t dwell as to why me, why does it happen to me? I’m glad it does. It’s lonely, yes. And I wish I had someone, anyone to talk to about it. But I take solace in the fact that this makes me unique. I get to experience something most never will. My life would be boring without it. It has given my life meaning and helped me understand things at a level for which there are no words. Often there are no words to describe a dream because it’s so cerebral. It’s the thoughts of my conscious and I comprehend things that I can’t describe in words. Maybe I am insane but I think quite the opposite- it takes quite a bit of sanity on my part to not allow these dreams to breakdown my sense of reality. I have NEVER been awake and thought I was dreaming. I do not think I'm important or special because I do this. It's most likely a REM sleep disorder. Narcoleptics experience these things. So do some people with certain types of seizures or as a result of having seizures. I've mentioned that I'm neurologically different and this is part of it. I also had petite mal seizures when I was 6 years old, around the same time I started remembering all my dreams. I could say it's a disorder but I feel this does not serve my confidence and I need all the confidence I can find to face each night knowing that it might be one of those nights. Even if I do everything right, I'm hardwired to "fall down the rabbit hole". Often, I face death and all the thoughts that might pass through a person's head in that moment, a moment I have never faced in my waking life, but can describe with horrific detail, as if time halted for an infinite moment, as if to say, "This is it. This is your final moment. Here's your last and final thought. Make it good." And it's terror, it's complete stillness and clarity in the mind, a mind that's saying, "I'm not done. I need more time."

As morbid as this sounds, this is what has brought me happiness. And I am happy. I'm happy because I feel like I've past at least one big life test. I had longterm depression because no one would listen to me about these experiences which lead to fear which lead to self-imposed insomnia and consuming too much caffeine and sugar. Instead of trying to control my sleep, I had to begin to under the art of sleep and respect the discipline. Mastering a discipline is not about control; it's about understanding, observing, listening, challenging, and allowing it to kick your butt to the deepest, darkest of places. I'm no where near mastering it and I don't believe I ever will. But there's no way out but through. So I've started listening to my dreams. I've started to confront my fears and it's transferring into my waking life, feeding off each other, depending on each other. Do I fear death? Yes, of course because it's the unknown. But trying to control the dream to make it go away only made my dream-self angry. Again, the Fight Club scene says it all. I had to listen to the dream and let it show me my fears and let my fears consume me to the point I thought I could no longer survive and that fear would actually kill me, even if by simply paralyzing me, not allowing me to defend myself.

I can not go back and edit this post. I can not go back and read it right now. I just wanted to make a final comment after the end of the dream record, but fuck if it's not obvious that I desperately need to share this and vent. The ridiculous thing is that I really want to share this with others, find others who have an insatiable need to understand and to be understood. My biggest fear is that I'm going to die and no one is ever going to know me. No, I don't mean popularity or fame. I feel like I have something to offer, something to share. And I want to learn more and contribute to lives of others, but I'm so odd and I make people uncomfortable with my dream speak.

My husband is so kind. He says i'm very intimidating because (his words) "your very intelligent and your depth of knowledge seems to call others out on their bullshit". He says that I throw people off because I'm sincerely interested in everything and I have an unusual amount of energy, which makes people uncomfortable because they can't label me. I think he's just feeding my ego and giving me a boost so I won't be so hard on myself. I think I put people off and come across as a know-it-all who wants to be different and mysterious. Which is hysterical because the only time I can breathe is when I'm by myself or when I blend into the crowd.

Damn it, I need some sleep. I promise to have shorter posts but hopefully most of you can appreciate the need to get this off my chest.

Thanks for listening. Again.


  1. Amazing post. Loved it. Thank you SO much for listening to my comment! it made my day :)

    We so need to talk. Perhaps I'll do a post about dreams in response because I have NO idea how to put everything I want to say into a comment..

    Please keep posting, I find you fascinating (so NOT meant in a condescending way) I relate to so many of the things you say. I want to get to know you more. & you really don't need to worry about contributing- every post, every comment, every conversation you have with others is contributing to their lives. I thought about you often whilst you weren't posting and hoped you were well- even in the short period of time we got to know each other before you contributed positively to my life & I'm sure to many others.
    Thank you again xxx

  2. I sincerely appreciate the input and support. Yes, please, share with me your dreams. Don't worry about how to put it together. I think the best way to record a dream is just to make bullets. It doesn't have to be in order. I'll make a page on my blog with dream records of mine. I have a lifetime of journals so it will be easy for me to find some good ones.

    The next time you have a dream or some strange experience, try to record it immediately, or as soon as you can. List the emotions, thoughts, anything that pops into your head relating to the experience. Don't worry if you think it's confusing. The words will come to you because dreams are powerful.

    I'm excited to talk to you about this and I can't wait to hear about your experiences. We can email each other directly too, but there might be others that are interested and will read.

    BTW- During my absence, I checked in and saw your comment asking how I was and it meant a lot to me. So, thank you. You, Moonlight Mistress, and Harlow have gone out of your way to make me feel welcome. Everyone has and it has made a difference. I've let go of so much in the past few days and I have this forum to thank.

    I just want to go on and on and on...and I will shortly.

    Much love, fellow blogger. You totally rock.

  3. Wow, that's really interesting. I've never experienced anything like that...not even close! My dreams are mostly flashes of random things that don't make much sense.

    Do you ever have these types of dreams and they are pleasant?


  4. Hi Moonlight! Ahhh! I have so much to say about this topic and my brain is going in all sorts of directions. What you experience is normal and the reason you don't remember your dreams very often is possibly due to you going through the normal stages of sleep. I'll explain better later. Yes, I do have dream experiences like you and I can share so much about these different dreams and what's happening in the body. Yes, I do have pleasant dreams. In fact, as terrifying as they can be, they can be equally euphoric. I could not survive the nightmares if it wasn't for the dreams that inspire me.

    I want to hear so much more about your experiences too. Just because they seem random or pointless, it doesn't mean that at all. It's all so fascinating.

    If you have Netflix, there's a documentary by Nova called, "What are Dreams? Nova". I thought it was interesting and accurate with respects to the science behind dreams. I'm completely obsessed with researching it so it won't hurt my feelings if it's not something you want to watch. I'm a total geek so I'm just throwing it out there.

    Thanks for the comments. I love talking about this stuff.

  5. I loved this post! To be honest, this was the first I'd heard of SP, so I had to open up a separate tab and get schooled. Apparently most of us experience SP once or twice in our lifetimes, but, in most reported cases, the people who experience regular bouts of SP also suffer from narcolepsy. I found that interesting, although you probably already knew that.

    I have never experienced SP or and OBE, although goodness knows I tried on the latter. My middle school had a very extensive supernatural/paranormal section which included about a half dozen books on OBEs. A few of them detailed steps some people took to prompt OBEs. And I think I tried them out every night for over a year. And they never worked, to my dismay.

    I do, however, experience dreams in way that most do not. I dream connected scenes. And I dream in color. I dream in proportion. And I remember all of it. And I always have, since I was three. I can remember the first vivid dream I had, and I could type out my last dream like it was a screenplay.

    I think exceptional people have strange sleep lives. It kind of makes me feel special. And sleepy.

  6. Thanks, Ephemera! This is awesome. I have so much I want to share and I want to hear about all your experiences. I experience symptoms of narcolepsy but it doesn't mean I have genetic narcolepsy. I'll put together all my references and I want to. I've been collecting information for decades with no one to share.

    I think I might be able to offer new insight on how to lucid dream (including OBE's) for people who don't have the "glitch" that makes it happen all the time.

    I know I started this blog focusing on body image, but I think this stuff is far more fascinating. I'll mix it up with both but I'm so happy to find others. Maybe I should create another blog under my profile just for this stuff. IDK. Just typing out loud.

    Thanks for all the input, everyone. It's such a relief to share all this stuff. Fuck paying for therapy- this is having a more profound impact on me. Let's hope it sticks!

  7. Your dreams sound intense!! I get really lucid dreams a lot and sometimes I can consciously control what's happening, but not always. Most of the time, my dreams are in the third person--it's like watching a movie. I'm not in them, but sometimes I can jump around to experience everything from different people's points of view...

    The paralysis nightmares are the worst. I think they contribute to my insomnia more than anything else--I've had them as long as I can remember, and they make me nervous of sleeping. :/

    Hope you got some decent sleep. <3

  8. Hi Mich! Thanks for commenting! I love your blog, btw.

    I actually feel sane knowing that others experience these strange events. I don't know if you've research sleep paralysis, but if you have anxiety about it, a lot of people found that there are techniques to help prevent, reduce or even help you "roll" out of the experience. I have resources if you're interested. Then again, if you've been experiencing them, I'm sure you've discovered your own ways of coping.

    I'm still catching up on your blog but I love your writing style and dark sense of humor. You seem incredibly entertaining, witty and smart.


  9. Haha thanks Amelia!! I don't know how it took me so long to find your blog--I love it!!

    I've looked into a lot of different techniques. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Mum has suggested an exorcism. The doctor wants to send me to some fancy sleep study/clinic in Sweden. I think I'll just stick with my diphenhydramine cocktails, thanks. :D

    <3 !!