Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 12 July 2015



To understand you must experience.
What can be experienced can be conquered.

You are my nightmare –
I will not dream you anymore.

6 November 1982

For most of my life—certainly in 1982—I have rarely been able to remember my dreams and when I did they certainly weren’t nightmares. In recent years—since my last breakdown (very tempting to try to see a connection)—I constantly wake up fully aware that I’ve been dreaming and often reluctant to leave the dream behind. Mostly I dream about work and by that I mean my dreams are set in offices or businesses although not necessarily office and business I’ve worked in or for. I clearly miss work or at least I miss the workplace. I still work, seven days a week, but it doesn’t feel the same working at home; bringing work home was somehow different. Work defined me as it does so many of us. What’s one of the first questions we ask of a new acquaintance? “And what do you do?”

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bone fide nightmare and definitely nothing you could describe as night terrors. I’ve never woken up screaming or thinking I was falling or being chased or naked (except when it was appropriate to be naked and let’s not go there). It doesn’t matter what I watch or read before going to bed or what I eat. I don’t have bad dreams. I suppose I should be grateful but I do feel a little cheated. Here am I writing about a nightmare and I’ve never had (or at least remember having) a proper one. I don’t meditate. I don’t medicate. I simply go to bed and close my eyes.



Gwil W said...

When I was young I used to have a recurring nightmare that I was being sucked into a vortex or a spinning black hole and if I fell to the bottom I would die. I was a forceps delivered baby and I often wondered if that anything to do with it. That aside I don't think have had any (or many) nightmares. It's more the contrary, for example, had a recurring dream in which I could walk across the room without my feet touching the floor as long as I kept my legs moving, and I wondered why others couldn't master the technique.

Jim Murdoch said...

That’s another thing I’ve never had, Gwilliam, a recurring dream. I suppose that’s a good thing. Not that I read much into my dreams apart from the obvious. What does recur is the setting which invariably focuses on an office or shop or even a warehouse; they tend to have large casts mixing up family, friends and co-workers from across my whole life and even the occasional celebrity but for the most part we all keep our clothes on. So pretty boring really.

PhilipH said...

You are fortunate in not having nightmares. I have been plagued with them for many years and remembered quite a few.

When living in Wales in the early 1980s I had a nervous breakdown and was given a couple of drugs to help me through it. One was called Attivan, I think, and it seemed to give me terrible dreams/nightmares, one which sticks in my mind was of a huge black moth-like creature swooping down on me whilst in a darkened bedroom. I stopped taking this after a couple of terrifying nights.

Recurrent dreams, I've had a few, quite a few actually, though again these have melted away over the past five or so years.

Another succinct and meaningful poem Jim.

Jim Murdoch said...

That’s interesting, Philip. I have actually wondered whether the ‘switching on’ of my dreams was drug-related because it was only during my last nervous breakdown I started to take a drug called Lyrica. (I know ‘nervous breakdown’ is a term that’s fallen out of popularity but, like you, I still think is has some life in it.) I’ve not taken Lyrica for years now but the dreams never dried up when I weaned myself off it. Of course it may have nothing to do with the drug. We know so little about how the brain works who could tell me? It was back then that my memory issues started and those also never went away and I would gladly lose the ability to recall my dreams to have a clear head all the hours I’m awake.

Kass said...

I will not dream you...reminds me of:
I will not obsess...I will not obsess...I will not obsess.

Whatever nightmares are, it would be nice to arrange and control them. It would be even nicer if we could do the same with our conscious life.

Childhood dreams:
...I am running and getting nowhere,
...falling off a cliff (always awaking before landing)...
...and the ever-popular - showing up for a test in a class I had forgotten to attend.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, Kass, you could well say that. I do, I have to say, veer towards the obsessive so I’m surprised I don’t experience nightmares or recurring dreams. I did have an interesting dream yesterday afternoon though: I dozed off on the couch and dreamt I’d woken up only to realise I was still in the dream whereupon I woke up for real. In the dream I’d been wearing trousers which is not typical around the house and that was what twigged me. Why, I wondered, am I fastening a belt when I shouldn’t be wearing one? Can only ever recall waking up in a dream once before. Fascinating though. In the last work-related dream I was a barrister by the way so they’re not all based on places I’ve worked.

Kass said...

A dream where you wake up still in the dream....makes me wonder how many levels to our consciousness there are. Intriguing.

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