Nightmares

ImageI’ve been taking Effexor for a few years now and am relatively pleased. It has few side effects for me, one of them being it has a short half-life, meaning if I miss a dose or take it too late, I’ll start feeling the withdrawal pretty much right away. The other side effect appears to be extremely vivid dreams. Every time I sleep, I dream. I usually try to record them and currently have other eighty dreams written down in my journal. It’s entertaining to read over them; some have even inspired short story or movie script ideas.

Lately however, nightmares have become more common. I have four reoccurring types:

1) Needing to protect one of the pets, especially Yoshi.

2) Not being able to find Chris, or he has died.

3) Dreaming about my late grandmother and feeling extremely confused.

4) I’ve injured myself and am covered with broken glass.

Currently, the most common nightmare I’ll have involves the glass. I will be trying to achieve some kind of goal (traveling, finding something, whatever bizarre mission my brain has cooked up in its slumber), and suddenly will find myself with pieces of glass all over. Shards will be in my ears, nose, eyes, my skin. I will have to stop what I’m doing and painstakingly try to pull out all the pieces. I feel pain in my dreams, and the glass always feels like a bee sting. I will wake up agitated.

Stress deeply affects dreams and even if I don’t feel especially stressed when I’m awake, my dreams will always let me in on what’s really going inside. Thanks, brain. I think the glass represents whatever in my life is slowing me down or stopping me from achieving my goals, and as it has been for as long as I can remember, that is depression and anxiety. I have to keep pausing, checking myself for a shard I might have missed, before I can continue on. If I ignore it, the pain will continue, like a bee sting, stubborn and insistent, gradually escalating from a small wound to an infection that radiates through my entire body. That’s what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of another breakdown, of grinding to a halt, of another glass attack that leaves me dealing with the consequences for who knows how long. So I’ll walk cautiously, methodically, into the fall semester. My emotional and physical scars remind me of how crucial self-care is. I have to take care of myself. 

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