Monday, April 14, 2014

Anxiety Adventures #10: Dreams

One of the potential side effects of Venlafaxine (which I'm still taking) is vivid dreams. They weren't kidding. I'm just hoping that one day I'll dream something I can use as the basis of the Great American Novel.

Without medication, I have odd or especially memorable dreams a handful of times each month. Sometimes I remember them, but usually they fade pretty quickly after I get up. Often, after a particularly exciting or emotional dream, when I go to bed the next night my mind seems to have a muscle memory of it or something. I will lay my head on the pillow and I can feel the dream from the night before, even if I don't remember the details. I'm weird, I know.
I've been on the Venlafaxine since January, and I was told that in about 4 months I would know whether it was helping my anxiety or not. In those first few months, I was told to watch for side effects. I didn't notice many, though I did have some headaches at first, and the one day I took my pill late I felt sick all afternoon. But I didn't start having vivid dreams so frequently until recently. I've been writing some of them down. These dreams aren't necessarily any different from dreams I would normally have, but they are more frequent.

I'm not sure what Freud would have to say about these dreams, but I probably don't want to know...

Here's what I've jotted down so far:

January 27
Last night I dreamed that I had to have heart surgery, and then shortly after I had to have another heart surgery. Then I was home, recovering, and the kids were taking care of me. I felt so weak and tired, I could hardly walk, and I felt like my lungs were crushed and it was really hard to breathe. I was on the sofa in the front room and two enormous spiders were on the wall behind the curtains, and I couldn't get away fast enough because I was so weak, and I screamed and the kids came in and one of the spiders ran under the couch (it was the size of a tarantula, but not furry) and the other was still behind the curtains and I wished someone would just open the door and then I saw the door open and we shooed them toward it, but one spider ran up the stairs and I woke up, terrified. Yiiiiikes. (I'm actually more afraid of giant spiders than of heart surgery... go figure.)

January 29
Last night I dreamed that I got so angry at a class of third graders that I kept yelling at them and I marked their paper down each step from 5 to 1 and they still didn't care, they were just loud and rowdy and disrespectful. Then my next group didn't come and a mom had taken them to play a game or something, and I was furious, so I went to find them and I confronted her and I yelled at her (which I would never do- social anxiety, remember?!) and she was rude and then I realized the clocks were fast and that I still had time to take the kids for library, so I told them to line up and she tried to undermine me and get them to stay with her. Very odd... especially considering that in the real world, if a class doesn't come to the library, I don't care and I would never go hunt them down and fight about it!

March 21
I dreamed that I went to jail, even though I wasn't guilty and I was so filled with anger and rage. It was a nice jail, though, like small apartments and the other women weren't horrible, but I was miserable and missed my family so much. There was a mall of some kind around the jail, and we could go out and wander, but we couldn't leave. Mr. Becker (a teacher at my school) came by and talked to me and said he didn't know why my family wasn't there to see me.

I can't remember what I was convicted of, but I hadn't done what I was accused of and the injustice of it burned inside me. I was overwhelmed with feelings of anger and sadness. I saw Ben at the mall place and called to him, but he was embarrassed and didn't want to talk to me or acknowledge me. I woke up feeling kind of sick and my head hurt.

March 24
I dreamed last night that Adam was driving me all over Salt Lake and he was driving like a maniac!! I was so scared. It was kind of funny... (My son, Adam, is currently working on getting his drivers license.)

April 4
I dreamed two things: First, that our family crashed at the apartment of a young guy that we didn't know. He was very nice and accommodating and let us have his bed. It was weird. Then in the morning, I couldn't get Kriss to leave. I was angry-- really angry (I've noticed I get mad in dreams a lot..) so the kids and I packed into our car-- a little thing with a stick shift, and I left, but then tried to turn around and go back. I was afraid Kriss would be mad at me. He was still there, playing with a kitty. The guy had a bunch of friends over by this point and they were playing video games. They were all putting on costumes and video-chatting with another group of grown men in costumes; they said they always dressed up to play games. I suggested they should have theme nights, like pirates or something and they thought that was a great idea (!). One guy sitting by me had a British accent and he was cute, so I asked him if his accent was real and he said of course it was. Then I woke up.

Then I dreamed that we were at Disneyland and so was a neighbor family, and we told the 11-year old daughter she could come with us so she and Katie could hang out (in real life, they are barely friends, this girl is kind of manipulative and whiney and Katie and she don't really get along), but their mom dropped off 3 of their daughters, including the pre-schooler. I told the girl to call her mom and tell her I wasn't babysitting so she would have to come if she wanted other kids along. I was furious. Then I used a bathroom and our family had disappeared- they didn't wait for me or something. I was really angry again (see? mad a lot) and when I finally found someone, it was my sister, Jen. She had this little sticker like a price tag, but it was all edges up like a flower, and it had to go on the pass on the lanyards we were wearing, and then we had to get into line to get into these little cars that would then shoot us to the entrance along a track. I wasn't seeing anyone from my family except Jen, so I didn't want to go on, in case they were somewhere behind me, but I was also concerned that they might have gone ahead without me. Finally, we found our Step-mom, Joyce, and she said my dad was in the bathroom. Here's where it gets weird. My family were suddenly there, and I reached to put my husband's lanyard on him and instead of Kriss it was the guy that plays "Matt" on "The Vampire Diaries" and suddenly I wasn't me anymore, I was a 17-year old HS student and I put it on him and touched his face all flirty and then I woke up.

April 12
Last night I dreamed that Shaquille O'Neal came into my school library to pay for the lost and damaged books of his child who (apparently) went to school there. (He was HUGE, just like he probably is in real life.) The charges were over $100, and he asked me why one of the books was $50 and others were only $20. I showed him the covers of some books and explained that prices were all over the place with books, but some are quite expensive. (I don't have books in my library that cost over $25, though). He nicely paid the bill with cash and I had the thought cross my mind that Shaquille O'Neal just gave me $100 out of his wallet and that he probably considers that pocket change. I'm not a basketball or Shaq fan, so this was especially random. Maybe my brain was on "shuffle" that night...

April 14
Last night I dreamed myself into a movie that reflected some scenes I inadvertently watched yesterday of some rather violent on-screen deaths (headshots with blood splattering- a rather gory montage). I dreamed that I was a character in a movie that was a dead-shot and a baddie, and I went on a rampage, going into public and randomly shooting people at convenience stores and in parking lots, then I drove off in a shiny silver sports car. I got away with it, too, because I was sly and fast. Then I was at a little gas station in an otherwise deserted town. It was at the end of a road kind of surrounded by trees and gravel-packed roads and there weren't any people around. I had stashed $7mil in a large duffel bag there, so I picked it up, and then I was worried about fingerprints, so I put it in my trunk and then I poured gasoline all over the floor and tried to light a match. I heard police sirens and panicked, leaving the gasoline all over and unlit. I kept trying to light a match as I ran, though. Weird. Then I realized I had left fingerprints and would be followed, so I left the country. The next thing I remember was being at a crowded tropical resort, I think I was in Rio De Janerio. I was trying to be inconspicuous and just fit in because I noticed a man in a suit following me. The only person not wearing a swim suit... of course! I woke up feeling guilty and a little sick about having killed people, stolen $7mil and then fled the country.

And that's just the dreams I remembered to write down right away. The night of the Shaquille O'Neal cameo, I had another dream that is now gone forever. It's very strange what our minds create while we're sleeping. Sometimes so random, and sometimes directly related to things that have happened that day. The night I dreamed I was in jail, I had been watching "Justified", which had a female character in jail. Weirdness!

I will be interested to see if the vivid, frequent dreams go away or if they continue as long as I'm taking Venlafaxine. Has anyone reading this had a similar experience?

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