When I was younger I used to have feverish reoccurring nightmares; I was sick a lot, and there was one occasion I caught a flesh eating disease. My body reached a record temperature while it attempted to fight off the virus on its own. If I had not seen a doctor not a day later than when I had, I would have died.
These fever dreams were often set in my neighbourhood. Same cast of retirees and kids my age, same playgrounds, same birch trees. I often had one involving an old man down the street. He gave me his heart as a transplant, but in order to keep it functioning for both of us I had to stand on my head. (?) If I couldn’t – we would both die. I would always wake up and start to do this in my bed, my conscious self could only master it for a minute, eventually tumbling over; feeling like both a murderer and a suicide – for not being able to stand on my head on a soft double bed while holding a temperature above 100.
Typically the fear was more vague. Just a dark force, chasing me down the streets. Everyone was gone. It was terrifying to witness paranormal events in the idyllic backdrop of the streets I played in earlier that day. from the day we’re now dark, empty, hostile, and full of demons whose lives revolved around destroying mine. How did I get here? Was I sleepwalking? It was nearly impossible to tell if it was an illusion or not. Could this really kill me? Would anyone save me? Where was everyone? The fear felt like threatening.
These dreams happened with such regularity (I was a sick a lot) that eventually I figured out a device to test my mind against the experience. To tell if it was real or not, I would lie on the ground and tell myself to wake up. In that moment, I had to trust it would all be over soon (although a part of me felt like the monster would just come and kill me lying there on the ground like the easiest piece of prey.)
Sleeping, dreaming, is this segregated time of day in which most of us trust implicitly is not reality, but it is real, it is our fears and desires acting themselves out in a fully reactive and transformational environment.
I’ve learned to question my own experience in waking life in much the same way. Since we are driven by our subconscious in reality, we often get caught in little mini nightmares in much the same way.
How can you know if it’s real?
Fear creates a survival impulse in the brain, it feels like you’re running for your life but the moment you’re forced to face what’s chasing you, it’s only as destroying as the road you missed behind you while you were running from them.
An instant response, much like lying in the street, is to ask yourself:
What will happen if I just surrender to this hallucination? Just allow it to happen, let it kill me if it will, but trust that it will only wake me up.