I wonder how many of you will relate to this.  Please do get in touch if you do, because this company is all about making people feel less alone, and I have to admit this is something I still feel pretty alone with.

When I go to sleep, the obsessions follow me.  This seems to be less the case now because I have a habit of going to bed too late and being jolted awake too early by my alarm clock, so I can’t remember my dreams.  But before I was a working mother, I used to dream endlessly.  Each night I’d have at least 3 dreams I recalled in perfect vivid detail the following morning.  They would play out like films…horror films.

All I seemed to have was nightmares.  My worst fears chased me into the realm of the unconscious, until I reached a point where I diagnosed myself with somniphobia: fear of sleep.  I was absolutely terrified of shutting my eyes and drifting off, because of the demons I knew I’d have to face.  I could get no rest.

Then one day it occurred to me that I had started changing those dreams.  Just like a film, I could pause and rewind scenes.  I remember, for instance, a dream where I was with friends in a car driving very quickly down one of those endless highways from Arizona to California, where there’s nothing around but desert.  We were being chased by a faceless villain in another car behind us.  Somehow our car was stopped and our hunter brought out a gun and shot one of my friends dead in the chest.

But I changed it!  I paused the scene before my friend’s body could fall onto the sand and tarmac.  I rewound everything to before the shot went off.  I replayed the scene over and over, trying out different methods of thwarting the bullet, saving my friend.  Eventually, I discovered I was wide awake, trying to work out what to do.  I had been thinking so hard, I guess I woke myself up.

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I learned years later that this is called lucid dreaming, where you’re conscious that you’re dreaming and you can control and change the dream however you wish.  Some people purposely try to do this, but I just started it up naturally.  People tell me they wish they could do it, it sounds so interesting.  I say it’s horrible, because it means even when I’m asleep…I’m awake.

A few years ago, I decided it’s like a form of OCD.  I can’t handle the anxiety and fear in my dreams, so I have to do things to counteract them, to change them.  And that is the true nightmare: knowing that even when unconscious, the disorder is still busy gnawing away at your brain.

Vrinda Pendred, Founding Director & Editor of Conditional Publications

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  1. Rose Gardener says:

    I have had OCD nightmares for 35 years and at times of stress,I just drift through a state of exhaustion from one nightmare to the next. . However, I learned, like you by accident, that I could put things into my dreams that I know are impossible. Then when I wake in the middle of a terrifying thought or ritual, I know I can let it go because it couldn’t have happened in real life. If it weren’t for this,I would have given up sleep a long time ago.

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