A couple nights ago, I had a dream I was being chased by an amorphic shadow monster, one that tortured and killed anyone who got in its way. I’ve had this dream before. And while I am no expert in dream reading, I can’t think of a more accurate nightmare that depicts the darkness of depression.
Similarly, last night I had a dream that a whole crowd of people were relying on me for something, but I failed them.
I’ve had similar dreams where it was friends or loved ones I failed, nightmares that match one of my biggest anxieties.
In the past though, when I’ve had these nightmares, I’ve been less mindful of how I am feeling at the time. Recently, I started tracking my emotions. The shadow monster nightmare of two nights ago preceded the depressive episode I am currently in and makes me wonder if past nightmares have been warning signs from a brain at war with depression.
There is some science to support this. While there is still a tremendous amount that we don’t know about the brain and mental illnesses, some studies suggest that dreams can be congruent with, or even predictive of, changes in mental state from baseline to depressive episodes. Similarly, in bipolar patients, dreams may predict a transition from depressive state to manic.
But I’m going to be honest, right now I don’t care. The scientific link between dreams and depression will probably be something I find fascinating when I come out of this depression, but right now I don’t care. Right now, in the darkness, when the shadow monster is threatening to pull me down, it is all I can do to force myself to write this post, to push myself through the day, painfully pretending the shadow monster’s torture isn’t turning my insides to darkness as I smile to all those around me who don’t want to hear it.
All I can do is remind myself that this nightmare does end, and that when the depression lifts I will be free of this darkness once again.