Lucid Dreams and Making Connections

I’ve always had a pretty vivid imagination and would tend to have nightmares at times of stress. Since losing Isobel, my nightmares have become crazily detailed with intricate plot lines that seem to span hours of time. They aren’t recurring in the sense that it’s the same storyline over and over, however there does tend to be a theme of death or imminent death and me either being powerless, or trying desperately in vain to stop it from happening. This theme is apparent even in my normal dreams where I’ll be trying to make a phone call and repeatedly press the wrong button on the keypad or I’ll be trying to drive a car but from the back seat. 

My normal nightmares don’t bother me too much, if they gets too intense I can wake myself up and I don’t tend to be upset after them. On a number of occasions however I have had lucid nightmares, where I know I’m having a nightmare and yet I can’t change it, stop it, or wake myself up. If my other dreams feel like hours, these ones feel like days of pure torture. I am paralysed, completely unable to act, I scream but don’t make a sound. I know that it’s a nightmare and that it’s not real but the feeling of being trapped is so real. Sometimes I think I’ve managed to wake up but then the nightmare starts again and I realise I’m still asleep. These dreams are horrible and when I wake up my heart is racing, my body filled with tension and my throats feels raw from screaming even though I haven’t really made a sound. It takes me a few minutes to accept that I’m awake now and it’s over. Then I don’t want to close my eyes again or go back to sleep. Simon is normally woken up by my gasping and we have a cuddle and I have a cry. 

I was chatting to a psychologist friend about the most recent lucid dream I had last week. We were talking about the sense of powerlessness in the dreams and  how that of course connects with Isobel’s death and my inability to do anything to save her. We were talking about different trauma therapies and how it might be helpful to see a therapist to help me process this a bit more. 

I was imagining myself being free of nightmares, these trauma symptoms being gone and it made me realise that I still feel like I deserve these symptoms. In connection with my beliefs of my own responsibility for not saving Isobel, some part of me thinks that having to experience these distressing dreams is a fitting punishment. In a strange way, my ongoing emotional difficulties are also my ongoing connection with Isobel. If I’m fine, if I have no more distress, then is it just like Isobel never existed at all? 

I know this doesn’t really make sense, or at least only makes a kind of sense. Which makes me realise just how complicated people and minds are! 

I’ve been googling lucid dreams and I think the strategy is to learn to control the events of the dreams so maybe that’s something to work on! Any one else suffer from nightmares? Any tips? 


Capture Your Grief: Day 12 – Lemons and Lemonade 

Like a lot of other people seem to have, I’ve struggled with today’s prompt. I could say that now when I come up against challenges I tell myself that I’ve been through giving birth to my dead baby, and the challenge suddenly doesn’t seem so difficult. I could say that I have a greater understanding of real pain and how to be with someone who is suffering and this will help me in my personal life as well as in my career. I could say that I’ve learned more about looking after mental health through this experience, than in my years of training and work as a psychologist. I could say that I’ve become more confident in speaking my mind and less concerned with what other people think of me. I could say that I appreciate my family more than previously for all their support over the past 16 months. I could say that I have seen the depth of my husband’s love and am more thankful than ever for him. I could say that I’m more grateful for my rainbow baby and less likely to take motherhood for granted. I could say that I now have a powerful connection with a community of inspirational women all over the world. 

All of these things may be true and no doubt there are more ostensible positives that have come or may yet come from my experience of losing Isobel. However it remains that for each of these signs of what could be termed post-traumatic growth, there is an accompanying negative impact of this trauma and loss that has demolished a part of my mind and the person I used to be, the things that I could easily do and the relationships I had. The latter still feels so much bigger than the former. More lemons than I could hope to transform to lemonade with a lifetime of squeezing. 
And so while I could say the statements above, I won’t. I don’t want to talk about growth and positive changes. I don’t want anyone to think that Isobel dying has in any way had a purpose in my life; that she has been more valuable to me in her absence than she would have been in her presence. I fully believe that being Isobel’s mother in normal terms would have improved me infinitely more than mothering her memory has. No good could ever come from surviving losing a child that would negate the awfulness of the loss. I would choose Isobel over all of it, a million times over.
All that being said, I do like the above quote! Mess of contradictions that I am!