I suppose I may have had nightmares, but I was never aware of them. I don’t ever remember having a frightening dream. My dreams are typically neither happy, nor sad, nor scary. In terms of emotional overlay they’re all kind of ‘meh’ bland. The worst they would ever get is when I’m looking for something I can’t find (like where I parked my car or or a destination I’m trying to reach) and feel either low-grade frustration or low-grade anxiety from time pressure.
There was a time when I had a lot of dreams about walking in a straight line and when I came to a house, I would walk into it through the front door, through it, out the back door, through the back yard, the back gate and into the back yard of the next house, etc., in a long line of houses, one after the other. There was never any sense of destination, only walking in a straight line through a succession of different houses at night.
Sometimes my dreams will have characters and a coherent (and actually a rather good) plot, but most of the time they’re rather random and amorphous. Sometimes I’m “first person” — the point-of-view character to which the dream is happening — and sometimes I’m “third person” watching myself within the dream. But I only very, very rarely had a dream I was glad to wake up from.
However, in the last couple of years, my dreams have taken a “nonpleasant” turn. The subject matter has become darker. Thank goodness the emotional intensity – or lack of same – has remained the same. But the dream content tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Night before last, I was having a dream about being in a big box store like Home Depot and people outside started shooting. I knew they had automatic weapons and that we had better get on the floor because they were going to rake the building with weapons fire. I wasn’t frightened, but was in that hypercalm, focused frame of mind that is fortunately my reaction to a crisis situation. I managed to get out of the building, but it was night and foggy, and I was trying to find police officers to tell them what the situation was, that there were active shooters in the area and people in danger in the store. Couldn’t find any police, although I felt certain somebody must have called them. Then the real-life phone rang and woke me up.
It was my mom. She’s always so chipper on the phone, like Stevenson’s birdie with the yellow bill, wanting to know if I was eating lunch. (I wasn’t. I’d been sound asleep.) The reason she called was she was still feeling aftershocks from the email crisis that erupted when AT&T gave Mozilla Thunderbird the cut direct and she’d had to revert to the Yahoo website to deal with her email. With emotions still running high over that, she had gone a whole half a day without having gotten any emails (it was just after noon). She was convinced something was wonky with the Yahoo website and she wanted me to go send her an email to test if Yahoo was working. I told her I would have to go boot up my computer.
Now, you have to understand that my mom and I have a major philosophical difference. We march to two very different drummers. She gets up at the crack of dawn, boots up her computer on her way to the front door to get the morning paper and have breakfast, and checks her email about 10 times during the day. The idea that anybody would want to sleep in the daytime is inconceivable to her. Why, something might happen, and they would miss it! I, on the other hand, am allergic to mornings, spent nearly 30 years working nights, loved the peace and quiet of it, and would continue to be a night owl if I had my druthers.
I had gone to bed after midnight, couldn’t get warm (the low was 38 F 3.3 C and the place I live in has no insulation to speak of). I finally got up at 3:30 in the morning and took a hot shower, and finally warmed up enough to go to sleep. Come noon and I wasn’t done sleeping yet. What I was done with was that dream.
But here’s the take-away from all this. There are prescription drugs which have the side-effect of causing nightmares, and I’m on two of them: Cetirizine (antihistamine) and metoprolol (blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances). I’m pretty sure because of the chronicity that it’s the metoprolol, either by itself or in addition to the cetirizine, that is the culprit. So far, these nonpleasant dreams I’ve been having are not unsettling enough to ask my cardiologist if I might be able to switch from metoprolol to atenolol, which does essentially the same thing but with a lower incidence of that particular side-effect. I guess if I can put up with the constant ringing in my ears from the aspirin, I can put up with these dreams . . .
To end this post on a more pleasant note, I thought I’d leave you with my current earworm:
The lyrics to this one are haunting. . .