Anxious dreams remind me to breathe

Anxious dreams remind me to breathe
"Dream," by Mirjana Veljovic. Used with permission of a Creative Commons license, which you can find here

Anxiety takes up residence in my body sometimes before my brain knows about it. And before I can put into words what I’m fretting over, I sometimes have dreams that stand in for them. My anxiety dreams take several forms.

When I was much younger I periodically dreamed that my teeth were crumbling. I would feel a tooth getting loose and when I touched it, the tooth would disintegrate. When I ate, several teeth would crumble at the same time.

Despite having completed school decades ago, I still have student dreams, too. I have a test to take that I haven’t studied for. Sometimes I can’t find the classroom because I’ve missed attending so often. Or, I get my transcript at the end of the semester and see an “F” because I never showed up to the class.

One time I woke up and wondered if I needed to talk to my Dean about now having an “F” on my transcript. I was worried that I’d be fired

The teaching dreams usually start in August. I walk into class and have no syllabus. Or, I wander the halls and can’t find the classroom. By the time I find the room, I am 30 minutes late.

Throughout my life I’ve had recurring dreams about travel and moving, which usually revolve around packing. I have too many things and not enough space to pack them. Or, I have too little time to pack what needs packing.

Last night, it was a packing dream. My daughter and I were returning home from a trip. I had three suitcases and a huge pile of clothes in the middle of the room. I filled the suitcases one by one, but the pile hardly diminished. I had to just keep cramming things in.

I’m always torn about the significance of dreams. I want them to mean something because they often wake me up and disrupt my sleep and my mood. I was once angry at my husband for half a day because I dreamed we had a fight.

But, I suspect they’re like the junk drawer. Odd signals from our brains, leftover memories, anxiety, images we’ve seen on television, all abandoned in one place having little to do with each other.

Sometimes I’m really taken with a dream. My mother has appeared in dreams (which I wrote about here). Once I dreamed that I lived in a house where trees grew up through the floor.

I’ve realized lately, though, that these anxiety dreams are precursors to my conscious anxiety. They remind me to attend to mindfulness and relaxation, to be in the present instead of worrying about the future. They signal that I should take better care of myself.

Do me a favor? Click my “like” button and join our Facebook community.

If you’d like to know first-hand when I have a new post, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment