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Dept. of Weirdity

Dreams and Half-Awake Visions

I had both last night, and it was a very disorienting night, in a slightly unpleasant but fascinating way. (One has to decide to be fascinated by this sort of incident; it's one of the only ways to shorten the period of being creeped out.)

I have, all too often, nights in which my legs get what we shall call the willies; no matter what position I lie in to sleep, no matter how tired I am, the legs feel as if they have to move, and are uncomfortable in not moving.  My usual solutions are very low tech. One is to get up and move out of the bedroom so that I won't awaken BB, then pound the hell out of my upper legs with my fists. About 60 percent of the time, that works, apparently by tricking my legs into thinking they're too tired to twitch. Lately, it leads to all kinds of bruising (I really have to be quite forceful), which I attribute to my skin thinning as I get older, so anything I can do to avoid having to pummel myself is starting to take first place in my sleep efforts. 

That leads to the second phase: get into a very hot shower and stay for as long as possible. I think it's partly the hot water doing a more gentle version of the leg pummeling, and partly me being up and out of the bed long enough for it to feel like a different space when I finally get back into it, and of course, doing the shower bit tires me out more. 

Well, last night, I had to try both methods before I could finally fall into bed and - I thought - get a half-decent night's sleep. And despite the worrying, if slightly ameliorated, persistence of the leg willies, I did fall asleep — 

— only to awaken again some unmeasurable time later (but it was, I found out in retrospect, not all that long after I fell asleep), once again with the leg willies. 

So I went to the third phase of Operation Get The Fuck To Sleep, Legs!, which involves getting up, taking my pillow and a duvet to the livingroom couch and hoping that a different locale will help get me to sleep. 

At first it seemed to be working ...

... and here I must digress for a moment, and talk about how I did some considerable thumbing, earlier in the day, through a new book at the Wilmette Public Library. It was "Long Black Curl" by Alex Bledsoe. It's a novel, part of a series, I understand, about the descendants of Celtic fae, living in the Appalachians of the New World, maintaining feuds from when they were banished or thrown here, doing magic via music, and, in general, somehow reminding me of Manly Wade Wellman's "After Dark" even though the only similarities were the supernatural and the locale.

I read enough to decide I wanted to read the novel fully, and perhaps read the earlier ones. I left the library to go cover a meeting and thought no more about it. 

Actually, I lie. My thoughts kept returning to the novel. 

And then there I was, on the couch, exhausted, partly asleep, and not certain what was real and what wasn't. I thought I felt a wind rush over me, and wondered if I was asleep. I heard the real footsteps of people in the unit above, and was comfortably certain, as I said, that they were real footsteps. But the wind kept rushing over my head — just a tiny wind, to fit in a tiny livingroom. I thought it was a thinking wind. 

And then I thought Bob came out of the bedroom, to see how I was doing, and I explained what was going on. I was very glad he had come out. He sat in the chair opposite the couch, and I thought he was going to sleep. I pointed out the wind to him ...

... and then I was truly dreaming.

But I was dreaming that I was a woman who was going into a house to do something very wrong. I was searching for a young girl that I planned to kill. I found her, and told her to go out onto the upstairs porch to wait for me. She did. I went into the room where her guardian slept; I couldn't see him well, hidden under his blankets; I tried to tell him he'd failed to protect her, and that I was taking her, but my voice was very weak. I tried to scream at him, and it only came out a whisper. 

I went out to the upstairs porch, where the girl — not that much younger than the dream me, although I knew I was older — was waiting, not running, dressed in a wine-colored satin shirt, standing in the pouring rain. I told her — and she was a little easier to talk to than her grey-haired guardian, my voice came out slightly stronger — that I liked her. I told her I liked her and that I would treat her well until I killed her. 

And then I was really awake, and Bob was really standing in the living room, asking me if I was alright. He'd heard me making sounds all the way in the bedroom, and I was so very glad he was there. When even his dream seeming could help me just a little bit, could calm me just a little, well you can imagine how relieved I was to be awake and seeing the real him. He turned on a light, and I tried to talk about the wind, but it didn't come out well at all. 

He got some water, and I came to bed. He gave me a sleeping pill, and I cuddled up hard against him, and ignored my legs, and finally went to sleep. It was only 3 a.m., and all this had gone on for what I had thought were hours and hours, and I was sure the sun must shortly be coming up but it was only 3 a.m. So short a time to lie on the livingroom couch, listening to a wind that wasn't there, and dreaming that I was a cheerful murderer. 

And that, boys and girls, has colored my entire day. I know that dream came in part from some interpretation I made of the Bledsoe book. I know some of it came from being exhausted and unable to sleep properly. I know these things. 

But that doesn't change the fact that something like this rarely happens to me, no matter what book I read, or how exhausted I am. 

And I cannot, for the life of me, fathom why, in my dream, I was going to kill anyone, let along a young girl. Yes, it was the book, but still ....

My brain is fucking weird. And today has been cold, and dark, and wet. 

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/385212.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
maruad
Oct. 28th, 2015 11:17 pm (UTC)
Is that thing with your legs what is known as restless leg syndrome? I have heard of it and have had some limited experience though it has been years (I don't remember doing anything but getting no sleep).

One of the most annoying dream I have had is dreaming I was laying in bed being unable to sleep... then waking up. Very annoying and not entirely restful.
kaffyr
Oct. 28th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I am pretty certain it is restless leg syndrome. I don't get the type that allows one to sleep whilst rhythmically kicking the person next to me *looks balefully at a much younger BB, who has, thankfully, stopped doing that* but from time to time, I get the kind I talk about here. I'm glad it's only "from time to time," of course.

The dream, or dreams - still not quite sure when I actually was awake and when I wasn't - was less annoying than it was very creepy, in a very detached way. I don't normally get those kinds of dreams, and perhaps it was just the very rarity of it that added to the strangeness.
lydy
Oct. 28th, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC)
Hey, your description of "leg willies" is a classic description of Restless Leg Syndrome. This is sometimes caused by low iron levels, but not always. There are treatments available if it's not low iron levels, although some have pretty debilitating side effects. RLS is a pretty irritating disease, but sometimes there's a good treatment available.

Best guess on dream content is that it's not diagnostic of anything, physical or psychological. During REM, the brain experiences a lot of random neuronal firing, and then the pattern-matching, story-telling portion of our brain tries to inflict form and substance on the random data. There are some exceptions, like PTSD flashbacks can also work their way into dreams, and that may be relevant, but in general, while dreams can be interesting, they don't mean anything and they don't offer any insight into who we are. On the other hand, I found that if I watched too much murder television before I went to bed, it would work its way into my dreams, and I'd dream of serial killers all night long.

So, this has been your pet sleep tech having opinions. For a real opinion, you might try a sleep doctor.
kaffyr
Oct. 29th, 2015 12:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, as I mentioned to maruad, it's definitely restless leg syndrome, or a sub-category of same. I may have low potassium levels, and I know I have pretty chronic anemia. I take folic acid and daily vitamins to fight the anemia, but I probably could up my banana intake ....

As for the dream - I've long since stopped thinking there was anything to dreams except, as Scrooge said, a bit of undigested gristle. Well, some of the undigested gristle may be in my brain, and the neurons may be firing to clear out the dust-bunnies; I doubt they're firing to neaten up beyond that, so I rarely even think that dreams are us processing unfinished business (although of all the "dreams mean something" options, that's probably the least unrealistic.)

No, it's the format that threw me; the half-awake, half-asleep thing is something that happens very rarely to me, and it's such a subversion of reality - far beyond dreams, which somewhere my subconscious recognizes as dreams - that it, well, throws me. Especially when someone's there ... but they're not.

And thank you, pet sleep tech - it's always good to hear your opinions. :)
maruad
Oct. 29th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC)
Potassium levels are an odd thing. My mom always had low potassium even when on special supplements. The doctor kept upping the dosage till he hit the point where anymore would be lethal and it was just barely enough (strange body chemistry in my family). Whenever she went into the hospital for an operation they would always drop the level thinking it was a mistake then have to restore it within a couple of days.
kaffyr
Oct. 30th, 2015 01:32 am (UTC)
That is seriously interesting; I had never thought about the idea that an individual's potassium level could differ so massively from the bell-curve.
maruad
Oct. 30th, 2015 03:13 am (UTC)
For some reason she had trouble absorbing it. To make things worse, she couldn't eat bananas. They gave her an upset stomach.
lydy
Oct. 29th, 2015 01:47 pm (UTC)
The half-awake half-asleep thing almost sounds like a hypnogogic hallucination. I mostly know about those from case histories of narcolepsy. They are absolutely disturbing. The thing where you reality takes an abrupt left-hand turn and didn't signal can be upsetting enough if you totally took drugs to accomplish that. Having it do so when you didn't give it so much as tacit permission is Not Ok. Sleep is weird. I say this as a professional.
kaffyr
Oct. 30th, 2015 01:28 am (UTC)
Hypnogogic dreaming ... yeah, that makes sense. And sleep is indeed weird. I say it as a professional sleeper. Heh.
a_phoenixdragon
Oct. 29th, 2015 01:19 pm (UTC)
Och...hate it when my own legs do that. Seems like it will never end!! And there is no real way to make them stop (though it is always a comfort to 'find a remedy' so one can sleep! I always get mine when overly exhausted. Been happening since I was in my late twenties, ugh.

Oh my gosh!! What a terrible dream!! The villian in your own play, as it were. Wonder what it was all about...

*HUGS*
kaffyr
Oct. 30th, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
I don't think, luckily, that the dream meant anything in a larger sense. It just meant I had a lot of undigested mental gristle. I feel a lot better today, and can look on the dream and the hypnogogic dreaming (thanks for the term, lydy!) with a bit more amusement than disquiet.
lost_spook
Oct. 29th, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, that does sound like a very unplesant experience - and dreams will sometimes leave tehir feelings behind them and stalk you round the day. :-/

I hope last night was much better all round! ♥
kaffyr
Oct. 30th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
Oh it was much, much better. Thanks so much!
flowsoffire
Nov. 2nd, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
Gloooomy… I hope your legs let you get some better rest in the future ♥
kaffyr
Nov. 2nd, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC)
Things got much less gloomy pretty quickly after that one day. My legs are still occasionally giving me trouble, but I'm beginning to think it's the way I lie in bed; I may have to adjust that, and perhaps that will allow me to be a little more comfortable as I go to sleep.

flowsoffire
Nov. 6th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hope that can sort it out, indeed!
kaffyr
Nov. 7th, 2015 09:42 pm (UTC)
Well, I've had reasonably decent sleep over the past few nights, so I'm going to hope that continues for a stretch.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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