This topic shares the name of a favorite movie starring Robin Williams. In the movie, shot in fantasy genre, Williams’ beloved wife Annie commits suicide, and his character Chris suffers tremendous feelings of guilt that drive him to believe he can save her soul by rescuing her from the pits of hell. Drastic and unpleasant subject matter I acknowledge, but if ever there was a picture with award winning imagery of what hell might look like, this is it. For the severely depressed, it demonstrates the vivid dreams that seem to plague us during the dark times. I recommend that you watch the movie “What Dreams May Come” if you’ve never seen it. It has its happy moments, but more importantly I think it is a clue, like another Williams movie “The Fisher King,” to Robin Williams’ personal battles with major depressive episodes. The hyperlink is the main character’s journey into hell, and the picture at top of this topic is borrowed from the cinematographer’s depiction of purgatory.
Dream studies suggest that when our bodies relax enough to let go of the conscious world we experience freedom that allows our subconscious mind to empty itself of unfinished thoughts, sometimes those troubling aspects of our waking life.
If my own dreams are an indication, there’s plenty of reasons for the vivid and terrifying dreams I’ve experienced for over five years as of this writing. Who knew that someone of average imagination and writing talents could fabricate elaborate landscapes, linked somehow to stimuli from the conscious, waking life? Medications for sleep also warn of vivid nightmares, so please consider reading the micro font printed warnings that come with medications related to sleep and depression if you are troubled by night terrors.
Dreams motivate us to understand what events or conditions might be troubling our souls; dreams can be whimsical fantasies that give our heavily burdened brains a good laugh. I far prefer the latter, though sometimes I am troubled by nightmares long after they’ve occurred. Before the depression and in my happier dreams I once wrote beautiful poetry, and poignant stories penning them with my finger on the bedsheet. Some very creative people value dreams so much that they keep paper and pen next to their sleep space so they can free their minds of waking thoughts to be dealt with later, and to facilitate unfettered dreaming. If a dream provides the basis for needed action, they write ideas and the actions on paper upon waking and before they are forgotten. During the night terrors when I wake and try to go back to sleep, I’m pushed right back to the same scary place that my nightmare had paused just before my body woke up. Self study has taught me the recurring, re-entry at the place of paused nightmares is the definition of obsessive behavior associated with anxiety. Many times I would get out of bed, watch late night, bad TV shows until sufficiently bored enough to give sleep another try.
I’ve read some interesting materials about dreams over my lifetime. There has been much scientific thought given to whether people have dreams in color. One study concluded that older people, those born during the age of black and white television, tended not to remember color in dreams. Young people claiming their dreams were color-filled remembered pastel shades. Further discussion about dreams revealed that nightmares occur during pre-REM sleep when the brain is less busy, which might explain my tendencies to dream about scary situations or people. Insomnia prevents me from achieving REM (rapid eye movement sleep stage) most nights.
What has been on your mind?
Do you remember your dreams? Dream researchers in the past ten years theorized that we do not remember dreams, but instead, the waking mind tries to make sense of random pieces of the dream using reason. Since the real life events in the dream seldom occur exactly as they did in waking time, our logical left brain struggles to relate the imagery to something real, the conscious mind making some sense of a dream in order to move past it.
To those who are reading this blog, when have you taken action based on a dream? Do you value dreaming? Do your dreams reveal a need to make a change, or provide an outlet for funny thoughts to be expressed? Please leave your thoughts for others to consider your perspective on dreams.