Thursday, January 25, 2007


Yesterday, Sassy asked what realizations put us into a panic, what causes us to wake up screaming. I don't think she meant that literally, not like waking up from an actual dream. But I do literally wake up screaming from actual dreams. Well, it's not an actual screaming, it's more like a deep gasp full of panic and dread, like taking in a breath so deeply people across the street can hear you filling up your lungs. And it's not an actual dream that causes it--it's more like a sense of danger and the need to flee from it.

I used to have these "don't-eat-me-you-scary-monster-dreams" when I was a kid. I would be in some level of sleep and would feel myself shrinking, and then I would sit up in my bed and scream, or gasp. Sometimes I would run across the hall and jump into my parents' bed, or if I was sharing a room with a sister, she would have to calm my fears.

But then I started having the "don't-eat-me-you-scary-monster-dreams" a few years after I was married. I remember seeing a Tom Selic movie called Runaway with these little mechanical robots with spidery legs. They would crawl up and down buildings and inject their victims with poison. Soon afterwards, I was asleep, minding my own dream business, when I saw one of these mechanical spiders crawl into our room (it was the size of a beagle) and make its way around the foot of the bed. It turned and was headed straight for me. So, I did what any normal person would do when faced with impending death by poison, I sat up and screamed/gasped. My husband woke up in a panic and grabbed me, trying to wake me up. But in my panic stricken state, I was sure he was strangling me, so I screamed/gasped even more. Finally, I woke up and realized there were no spidery critters with injection devices, and my husband was not choking the life out of me. And I was exhausted. It took me a good hour to recover.

I have these bouts with night terrors from time to time and will sometimes find myself jumping out of bed to turn on a light, to see for myself if there is a giant spider hanging from the ceiling or if there is an ominous villain standing in the corner of the room. Or maybe there is a snake coiled around the door knob or a hand reaching for my throat. There is never a scenario that culminates in my demise--no chase scene or plot to follow--just the threat. And sometimes the threat doesn't even have a shape. It just is.

I have a theory that it's all related to sugar, but then I think everything is related to sugar. If I have too much, I have "don't-eat-me-you-scary-monster-dreams." If I keep it under control, I sleep peacefully, dreaming of lilies and puppies and babbling brooks instead of crawling things and choking things and things with forked tongues and glowing eyes. It's just a theory, though.


RICH said...

I have reoccurring dreams; also I’ve been known to have nocturnal panic episodes that will wake me with my heart pounding like a base drum at 150 beats per minute, brought on by God knows what. But it’s been a looooooong time since I’ve had those pleasurable kind of dreams like I did when I was 12. Why is that?? Maybe some other guys like dive or Old “k” can answer that one.

Gina said...

I am lucky enough to not have a lot of nightmares or recurring bad dreams. Although I had this really funky dream about my first boyfriend last night. It was really odd.

Dear Prudence said...

I used to have a reoccurring dream that I was in a haunted house and although I knew every scary thing that would jump at me from every corner, I would still awake terrified, sweaty and breathing hard. The moment I decided to divorce my ex the dream turned into me confronting each scary thing and actually seeking them out in the house and finally it stopped. I believe it was my own minds way of sorting out how scary and difficult it might be as a single mom but I could handle it.

Sassy Sundry said...


I'm convinced that bad dreams have to do with things the psyche is trying to work out.

Robyn said...

Rich, who knows what Dive and Mr. K will advise, but maybe we have underlying issue with paranoia--maybe it comes from having burly fathers in construction, who knows.

Gina, I read your post about high school friends. Maybe the whole era was in your head.

Dear Prudence, that seems to make sense, but I have this idea that dreams are more about brain signals misfiring. What do I know.

Sassy, again, what do I know. But I keep thinking of that scene from White Christmas where Bing Crosby gives Rosemary Cloony the rundown on what sandwiches to eat for which kind of dream. A woman once told me that everything in life either build character or effects your bowels.

lynn said...

I dream vividly, always have. Well they say we all do, only some don't remember. When i was little i had recurring dreams, one of which was that i was on the ceiling racing down to a china pot of flowers on my chest of drawers. Really fast and very scary. No it doesn't make sense.
Others include cats. Large usually, found to be loose inside the big house i'm in and every time i shut a door, the dreaded thing slopes in another door behind me.
My dreams, good or bad, are like watching films, they're that detailed and seemingly long.
I heard that eating lettuce at night stops them Robyn. Sounds dubious to me.

Robyn said...

Lynn, I swear I'm not making this up, but when I was little and had the recurring dream that I was shrinking, there would often be a white basket of flowers on a shelf that I could see in my peripheral vision. Weird, huh? There must be something significant about the flowers.

dive said...

Nightmares suck ass.

I don't try to analyse them, I just get up and put on all the lights in the house, then do some housework or stick on a funny DVD.
Brrr …