D is for Dreams


Waking up completely exhausted is common among people with depression. I usually have more trouble getting up when I sleep during the night than when I am battling insomnia. It’s because I dream. I dream a lot. They aren’t good dreams either. I wouldn’t call them nightmares, but they are realistic and stressful. Sometimes they are repetitive dreams. I often think in the dream oh no, it isn’t a dream this time, it is happening for real! I often can’t tell that I am dreaming. Even upon waking, I am not sure what was real and what wasn’t. I wake up feeling like I’ve had a long stressful day at work and now, I have to get up and do it all again in waking life. Ugh.

Do you dream a lot? Do you have repetitive dreams? Have you ever had trouble telling the difference between your dream and reality?


It sucks, but I just accepted it. I figured everyone has these dreams. Most people do, but not every night, and not to the same intensity. Sleep studies have shown that people with depression dream up to three times more than the average person. Dreams contain more intense emotions and negative themes than average. Dream sleep occurs during the Rapid Eye Movements (REM) phase of the sleep cycle. It is often referred to as Paradoxical Sleep because although you are asleep, it is not the kind that leaves you rested and restored. During REM, all kind of stress hormones are released into your system. Dreams are usually thought of as good things. They tend to be exaggerations of the truth, but dreams tend to be metaphors for your life. Unaddressed concerns get played out in your dreams, leaving your brain free for dealing with the events of the next day. Too much of a good thing though, is always bad. Over-dreaming leaves you stressed and deprives you from the “deep sleep” that you really need. Waking too early is common among those with depression. This is actually the brain’s survival mechanism to prevent the stress from over-dreaming. Why do depressed people dream more? Apparently it is because we have more worries and emotional arousal that has to be worked through.

I don’t know if a completely dreamless sleep is possible, but you can at least find sleep where you don’t remember your dreams. I have come across a few tips I am going to try to see if I can mute these stressful dreams of mine.

  1. Don’t go to sleep stressed. Give yourself time to cool down
  2. Keep regular sleep times, even on weekends
  3. Don’t eat right before bed. Meats and cheeses can increase the likelihood of having nightmares
  4. Decrease alcohol and caffeine consumption
  5. Keep a dream journal or join a dream-sharing group in your community
  6. Research has shown that good smells can affect dreams positively…aromatic oils, lotion, flowers.
  7. Have some sort of moderate exercise during the day and not right before bed.
  8. Don’t sleep on your back. That can induce sleep paralysis which causes you to feel like you are awake and alert, but cannot move. People often complain of a heavy feeling on their chest.
  9. Read something not too thrilling, but not work or school related stuff either.
  10. Don’t stress about not being able to sleep. Worrying about it, will just make it less likely to happen.

Some of these I already do (#3, 4 and 7). Some, I’ll be honest, I’m just not going to do (#5). The others, I’ll give a try.

Liebester Award II

liebsteraward When I got back from NYC, I was pleased to find that Tempest Rose over at Nonsense and Shenanigans had nominated me for the Liebester award. Thank you, thank you! If you haven’t visited her before, you definitely should.  She’s creative, funny and controversial. Her blog is always a good read.

How do you feel about blog awards? I’m finding a lot of people don’t like them, are sick of them or appreciate them, but don’t participate. I think they are fun. I like to know when you like something I write/draw or if you appreciate my blog. Hearing that sort of thing makes my day! The Liebester is extra fun because it comes with questions to answer…something I love to do. Then I get to ask questions and read the answers when I pass it on…more fun 🙂

Normally, the Liebester is passed on to smallish blogs that you admire. Since I have done the Liebester before and recently nominated a bunch of my favourite blogs for other awards, I’m going to answer the questions I was given and post new questions for you (yes, you reading this) to answer.

Here are my answers to the questions from Nonsense and Shenanigans (big thanks again :D)….

1. If you could change one thing about your country, what would it be?
Language laws. I think being a bilingual country is a great thing, but it has to be done right. Do I know how to do it right? No, but I know there has to be a better way. No doubt, many of you were laughing at the antics of our language police here is Quebec over the last year or so….Not allowing terms like “pasta” and “calamari” on a menu at an Italian restaurant because they weren’t the proper French terms….please! I also remembering hearing something about artwork in a restaurant having to be removed because it had English words in it. I understand the intention, but it was getting a bit ridiculous. Things are better now, but far from perfect. Going from one extreme to another….I have lived in Quebec for 11 years and I am not fluent in French. Am I ashamed? Yes! I grew up in Ontario and took French all through school. I got excellent grades and was declared fluent in French on my report cards….then I moved to Quebec and learned I couldn’t speak or understand at all. It really is too bad. I think French is undervalued in the rest of Canada, but carries a lot of resentment with Anglophones in Quebec. It would be nice to even things out across the country.

2. What is one thing about your country that makes you unbelievably proud?
There are so many reasons to be proud of Canada. People make fun of us, but I like that we have a reputation for being kind, polite and understanding. We accept our neighbours regardless of race, sexuality or religion. There’s nothing wrong with “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” either. 🙂

3. Do you remember your dreams? If so, what is the last dream you had that affected you?
I remember the dreams that I have over and over again. The others tend to fade away. The last one that got me was about my Gran. I dreamed she had been alive these past ten years and I hadn’t known. I was so upset that I had missed out on all that time with her. Hubby said I was crying and whimpering in my sleep. Woops! I have this dream a lot, slightly different every time. I wake up so confused.

4. If a blogging genie came to you and offered you three blogging-related wishes, what would you wish?

  1. I wish I got paid to write my blog and draw my pictures.
  2. I wish I knew some programming so I could make it really original
  3. I wish I had more time to brainstorm for posts.

5. If you had the opportunity to explore undiscovered areas of the earth, OR to explore undiscovered areas of outer-space, which would you choose?
Earth definitely. I am interested in anthropology and paleontology. I’d love to learn more about ancient humans and extinct animals. There’s the ocean too. So much of the ocean has yet to be explored. I am interested by life, which is something that hasn’t been confirmed in space yet. Stars and planets are wonderful, but until we find life, I’d much rather study the Earth.

6. Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because I wanted to talk about my mental health problems and connect with others going through similar things. I thought talking might help me feel better, or understand myself better. I thought maybe I could learn from the experiences of others. This is a part of myself I keep hidden from most of the people in real life for the obvious reasons, so blogging under an alias seemed like a good idea and so far it has been going well.

7. What is your one, ultimate, life-long dream?
I just want to be happy. I want people to be proud of me. I want to feel that I am enough, that I have accomplished enough. I want to stop worrying and working and fighting and just be able to enjoy things.

8. If you had to give up your other achievements to accomplish that dream, would you?
This is a hard question to answer. I guess I’d be fine with having different achievements, but my achievements are a big part of my dream, so I wouldn’t be accomplishing it if I gave them up. I think my dream requires a change in attitude. There isn’t a limit you work towards that says you are adequate. It’s an ongoing process. I need to learn to enjoy while I work. Easier said than done.

9. Do you believe in ghosts? Aliens?
Ghosts? I’m not sure about. The whole energy cannot be created or destroyed makes me wonder sometimes. Aliens? I wouldn’t say believe, more like hope. How could it be possible that properties have combined in this one place to support life and no where else. The universe is so vast. There has got to be something else out there.

10. What religion are you most intrigued by? (It doesn’t have to be your religion, you don’t have to be religious — just one that interests you, in good ways or bad.)
Ah religion, always a sticky topic. It can bring so much hope, but also cause so much destruction. I am interested in East Asian religions, Taoism in particular. I don’t know a lot about it. I took an Eastern Religions class in university and it briefly touched on it. I like that Taosim is associated with nature and the flow of energy. It’s about balance which strikes me a peaceful. I hope to learn more some day.


So here are your questions. You can answer them in the comments or on your own blog (make sure to send me the link!) You can pick and choose which you answer if you’d like, but I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

  1.  How do you get motivated when you’re in a rut?
  2. Where do you get most of your blog post ideas?
  3. Do you have any weird habits? Explain.
  4. What is something you’d like to learn more about?
  5. If you could have a vacation home anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  6. What are three of the items on your bucket list?
  7. Who do you look up to?
  8. Which one of your posts do you think is best, why? Provide the link.
  9. Share a quote you find inspiring.
  10. If you could try out a new career, what would you try?


Stess in Life, Stress in Sleep – Most Common Anxiety Dreams

I use sleep to escape my really low points. This works for the most part, unless I have anxiety dreams. In this case, sleep is stressful, life is stressful and I wake up exhausted. Things usually spiral out of control pretty quick.

Dream research from the University of California has found continuities between dream elements and waking life. Typically, the elements represented the concerns and interests of the dreamer, suggesting that dreams do have meaning. They have also found similarities among cultures, genders and age groups. Dream interpretation is complex and individual. Two people can have similar dreams, but their life situations differ, ultimately giving different symbolism to the elements in their dream. Having an anxiety dream about a growing mass of insects could mean you have an insect phobia, or it could mean that you have a growing problem in your life. It’s open to interpretation.

Here are some of the most common anxiety dreams and some interpretations of the elements in them.

My teeth fall out. I absolutely hate this one. I have it the most often. It happens slightly differently each time. So I always think OMG it’s actually happening for real this time!! I’m never quite sure that it’s just a dream until I’ve checked in the mirror and tried to wiggle a few teeth.
What it means. Apparently this one is really common. Have you had it? Teeth are often interpreted as a symbol of power. So losing them would signify a loss of control. In other cases teeth could represent losing face. Maybe you have a situation where you are worried about what others might think of you?

Unprepared for an exam. I have to write the final exam and I haven’t even been to class yet. This one really makes me sweat since I am, technically, still in school. Usually it’s a math exam and I haven’t gone to classes because I’ve been too depressed. In real life, I am teaching myself statistics, so you see how confusing this can get.
What it means. This one is rather obvious. You are likely feeling unprepared for a real life situation. Often people having this dream have a lot of work-related stress.

The Car is not working. I’m in the car and I can’t control it. I’ve had this dream since before I could actually drive. I’m in the car and it’s moving forward, slowly. Sometimes there are people with me, sometimes not. Nothing in the car is working. Not the steering, not the breaks. I just keep moving forward slowly towards something…usually something that puts me into panic mode. Like on-coming traffic. With this one, I can usually figure out I’m dreaming and take back control.
What it means. This one is interpreted in different ways. Sometimes it means some part of your life is dysfunctional, like a relationship for instance. Another variation, If you are the passenger, perhaps you are uneasy relinquishing control to the driver. If you are the one in the driver’s seat (this is what I dream), it could symbolize responsibility. You are not quite comfortable in the driver’s seat of your own life.

I’m being chased. I’ve only had this one once that I can recall. You are running from someone/thing and can’t get away. I imagine this scenario is often accompanied by screaming or fighting. It drives me nuts when I try to scream and it comes out at a conversational level or when you try to punch the bad guy and it all happens in slow motion. So frustrating! I usually know I’m dreaming then though and it’s not so bad anymore.
What it means. The key to this one is figuring out what the pursuer represents. It is usually someone/thing you are threatened by.

I’m naked in public. I didn’t start having this one until very recently. I’m usually in a bathing suit environment and have forgotten my top or something. I’m completely embarrassed, but no one seems to notice my predicament.
What it means. This usually represents a life scenario where you are feeling vulnerable, not confident or unskilled. Since no one is noticing, it may mean your feelings are unfounded. A better meaning than other dreams, but a stressful dream none the less.

I’m drowning. This one is scary. I’m underwater, running out of air and I can see the surface. I swim towards it, but I can never seem to break through. I usually wake up at this point because I’ve been holding my breath.
What it means. This is most often associated with being overwhelmed or denying yourself an emotion that you need to be feeling.

I’m falling. I’ve never had this one, but it is considered common.
What it means. It usually means you feel unsupported or out of control in a real life situation.

I see dead people. I don’t mean zombies here. This is the absolute worst one I have by far! I always wake up in tears and gasping for air. I dream that my Gran has been alive all these years and no one has told me. They left me thinking she was dead. In reality, she died ten years ago this month.
What it means. I’ve read that seeing a dead relative means you miss them and it’s a coping mechanism or a last opportunity to say goodbye. That part makes sense but, I don’t really know why I would be thinking she was dead and only find out later she was still alive. I’m lost as to what that detail means. Any ideas? It really bothers me.

How do you make them stop?
There are so many methods to try. Most of them involve some form of relaxation exercise and altering you’re thought patterns either before bed of during the dream. This doesn’t work for me. I don’t know how to relax and I can only alter my thought patterns in some dream scenarios (like the car or when I’m fighting someone). In more extreme cases, there are medications, but they stop the good dreams too and if you are like me and have your own personal pharmacy in the medicine cabinet, then you don’t really want to add to it. Diet and exercise can influence your dreams too. Seems like those two factors influence everything. All you can really do is try these methods and see what works for you. Everyone is different.

What works for me? Constant, unchanging noise. The sound of a fan, rain hitting the window, the crackle of the fire, things like that. My favourite anti-anxiety dream noise is music from the Phantom of the Opera. The voices and the music blend together in such a way that nothing sticks out and it’s just pleasant sound. I’ve never had a bad dream going to sleep to The Phantom of the Opera. I wonder if other musicals/operas would work?


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