Dreams are funny things. Don’t you find that your wildest dreams (and I don’t mean ‘wild’ as in ‘brilliant!’) occur when you’re going through big changes and upheavals in your life? Your subconscious – or your unconscious – is working overdrive.
Ashley’s ‘blog takes a no-holds-barred look at a variety of issues related to mental health’ and aims ‘to raise awareness about mental illness and create a community where people can feel comfortable speaking openly about mental health.’
Thank you, Ashley, for all that you do, and for featuring me in your ‘Emerging blogger series’.
My guest post on MentalHealthatHome.org
Yesterday was a day when I really was not okay.
It’s all comparative.
I was more okay yesterday than I was yesteryear. Nowadays, I notice the days when I’m not okay, because they’re few. And I say to myself that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. It will pass. It’s, in fact, a good thing to not be okay some days. Feeling the spectrum of emotions makes us human, after all.
Yesteryear, I would chastise myself and wonder why, when, how things would change. And they did change… but it took a while.
Yesterday, I was tired of being the carer, weary with the weight on my shoulders. Those shoulders didn’t feel broad enough. They sagged and yearned for a rest.
Money, clutter, mess, life plan, everything was a worry, a huge worry, yesterday.
My friends felt so far away.
Yesterday, I remembered that I no longer have a career. That’s great, usually, that’s great, because it means that I’m free… But yesterday I remembered that I don’t have… a plan.
I felt like a hypocrite – a balling, pathetic, soggy, mess of a creature (‘don’t call yourself names – would you speak to somebody else like that?’) – more so because my blog is about lifting yourself up, how to be the best version of yourself, lessons I’ve learned from this, that and t’other. But yesterday I didn’t believe myself. Yesterday, I felt like a liar.
You are enough? Really? How do you work that out?
Show me the proof.
What are the tricks? In which notebook out of my many many did I write down my ‘toolkit for self-care’? Organised? I used to think so… but that was a long time ago.
Yesterday, everything I touched… broke. As I let the cat in before an early night (good riddance to this day!), and I switched the porch light off (the light bulb duly popping and fizzing out), I reminded myself of this truth.
After a bad day comes a better day.
And don’t those better days feel even better if you’ve just had a crappy day?
Then last night I had a dream. I guess you would call it a nightmare.
‘Always keep a notepad and pen by your bed.’
I woke up but I was supposed to be dead.
I was supposed to be dead but I wasn’t. We were all supposed to be dead. Everyone. That was just the way of things, in my dream world. We were all lying down together, side by side. To die. And I wouldn’t bloody die. We put the injections into our arms, to help us along. We were all supposed to go peacefully. And it seemed to be working. Everyone was dying. It was as it should be. But they just presumed that I had died too. Yet I wouldn’t die. I couldn’t move because of the injection. It had numbed me. So I couldn’t tell anybody. Not that there was anybody alive to tell. But I was wide awake. Conscious with my eyes closed. How long would it take? How long did I have to wait?
And then I woke up. Wet through. A soaking wet polka dotted adult-sized baby grow swaddling me. You know, one of those fleece things that keep you cosy but make you look… like a big baby.
And now I remember. I used to have dreams. Yesteryear. Yesternight. Such vivid dreams. Before the healing began. They were nightmares. They were certainly nightmares.
But nightmares were a good thing, because it meant my subconscious was working through my ‘stuff’. It wasn’t all done in the daytime. Consciously worrying non-stop. I lived better in the daytime. And at nighttime, the processing happened.
That’s what my psychologist told me.
I kept a note pad by my bed. Didn’t want to miss a thing.
Good material for stories. It hadn’t always been like this.
In one dream I’d lost my baby. I searched everywhere. But I couldn’t find her. I’d misplaced her somewhere… in this drawer? No! In that cupboard? No! Where was she? Why couldn’t I remember? I was frantic. You would be, wouldn’t you?
In another, most terrible of dreams – although I somehow experienced it with a feeling of detachment, I had given up my child, my boy. That was what you did in that particular dream world my subconscious had conjured up (and it was before I knew of The Handmaid’s Tale). I was allowed to observe him. To watch how his ‘other’ parents looked after him. I was at a football match and there was something. Something I knew he needed… Only I knew because I knew him best but I wasn’t allowed to intervene. I just had to watch and stay mute. It hurt.
There was detachment. And there was deep loss. Is it possible to experience both emotions at once?
Yes, it is.
There were a lot of corpses around in my dreams in those days. Those nights.
There was an animal corpse in my garden. Huge, hairy and putrid. Matted with blood. It smelled bad. I knew it was there but then one day I came back and it had been moved. There was just a dark patch left where it had lain. A gardener had moved it for me. I was slightly annoyed. I hadn’t asked for help. Where was my corpse? Not that I’d wanted to keep it… it was just that… the gardener had taken away my control of the situation. Was that it?
That’s a good thing, said my psychologist. You’re receiving help.
Humm. I wasn’t so sure. But I liked getting good news. Who doesn’t?
The bestest dream I had, was one of those that wakes you up with a gasp at the end.
I was climbing up winding stairs. Up a very tall and skinny building. With some of my family members. We were going to my flat which was right at the top. But when we were got there, my little white kitten got out onto the window ledge. It was precarious. I had warned them not to let her out. I had seen the danger coming but nobody listened, nobody heard me. She fell.
I knew there was a deep pond at the bottom for her to drown in.
I ran down the stairs. I ran and I ran and I curved and I curled down those stairs faster than I’ve ever ever ran in my life and I jumped towards the pool and it was all in slow motion and it took forever and I ran so fast and nobody thought I would save her, my beautiful kitteny cat that I love with all my heart, and I arrived at the pond and I plunged my hand deep into the pool, deep, deep down and I caught her and I pulled her out and she was saved.
And I caught my breath and I woke up.
Relief flooded through me!
And the tears came. And I knew then.
I was going to be okay. I was okay.
The healing had begun.
So I hope I dream tonight. And I hope you dream tonight. I hope we’ll remember our dreams. Big dreams, often ugly dreams, nightmares, can signify changes a coming. Changes for the better.
It’s okay. Everything is going to be okay. Everything is okay.
I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re okay.