About 2 1/2 years ago I came across some very interesting research on dreams and depression. I studied the idea, thought about it, and connected several dots about how this had been playing out in my life when I was captive to the depression monster.
The short version is that when our brains ruminate on stress and the stress is not resolved during the day, the brain works on it at night. The worry of the stress gets acted out during dreams which leaves the body feeling very tired in the morning because the body does not go into deep, restorative sleep. No wonder I had such issues of tiredness like I talked about in my last post! Add a medication that possibly added to it and WHAM! Thankfully I have a new story now that I read every night…
From my journal:
About 8:15 I was able to get up and not feel too dizzy. The kids got off to school and I started the day. Steve was worried about me. He said that I really scared him. I was plenty scared myself. It has to be the Cymbalta medication. I called the doctor’s office and he won’t be in until Monday. I asked about not taking the meds anymore. About 1 p.m. the answer came back that I need to cut my dosage…I feel much better now.
Fast forward: My dreams during the years with depression were often vivid and sometimes extremely disturbing. There were countless nights when I just did not sleep soundly or I would sleep soundly for 20 or 30 minutes and then wake up and fight going to sleep–all because my brain would ruminate and whirl with activity.
As for other suicidal thoughts during the 12 years, I had them occasionally. I know that many people with depression actually attempt to end their lives; some succeed. While I never attempted, I do know what thoughts of it are like. I remember one time in particular at about year 11 when I was having an extremely tough time in the fight. I will never forget how dark and hopeless I felt. I remember thinking, “I’m turning into something else. I don’t have control over it. It is such a dark, dark feeling…” I remember walking downstairs to our kitchen to join my family for dinner. Everyone knew I was not having a good day. I emanated darkness and sadness. I recall saying, “Everyone would just be better off without me here.” My family did the best they knew how to do; they told me I was worth everything to them. I went to my bedroom early to just be away from everyone and everything. I knew I did not want to check out of life. I also knew the feelings I was experiencing were real. I really didn’t want to take myself off the planet; I was just so lost for help and understanding. So I did the only thing I knew to do: pray.
And it was this prayer and thousands more that eventually led me to people who have studied depression, people who understand the mind in ways that I did not, and people who had answers that changed my trajectory.
So…dreams…what is ONE thing you are ruminating about that can be dealt with so that you will sleep better? Think on it. Ponder on it. And rewrite the story (Old and New Stories).
Further information about dreams and depression: