• Dream Diary

    by  • February 20, 2014 • Dreams, History • 5 Comments

    I had been in politics — not as a politician, but as a campaign manager or aide of some sort. The details were never clear. The important thing is that my career in politics was a catastrophic failure. Due to a combination of exhaustion, stress, and humiliation, I died. Heart attack, probably.

    After I died I went home, and found that things were pretty much business-as-usual — chores to be done, meals to be made. Cathy could see me and converse with me; the fact that I was dead was nothing more than a tacit understanding between us. I felt deeply relieved that my life after death was simply a comfortable, closeted version of my life before it. If I was a ghost, at least I was a communicative and well-loved ghost.

    Then I met another ghost: she was a child from somewhere on the British Columbian coast (except the map was reversed, so that the coastline faced East across the Atlantic), she didn’t know exactly where. She’d been playing at home on a patio over a high cliff above the sea, and she had slipped and plunged down the cliff and was dead by the time she hit the water. The ocean currents carried her away to the South, and she washed up on a nearby beach and wandered inland, where she found me. I felt terrible for her. She was so thin and transparent, just an empty shape really, that I couldn’t even see the expression on her face. The tone of her voice told me enough — she was lost and lonely. I decided to do everything I could to help her find her way back home so that she could be with her family, just as I was with mine.

    Energized by this mission, I pored over satellite maps while the child-ghost told me more details about her home: the landscape around her house, the curvature and height of the headlands North and South, the tidal pattern, the layout of the nearby town. After some hunting, we eliminated all of the possibilities and were sure we knew where her home was. I sent the girl off full of hope that she would be reunited with her family.

    Then a terrible thing began to happen. At first it was just a minor annoyance — I was listening to music and wanted to adjust the volume, but the buttons become terribly resistant; at first I could only manipulate them with difficulty, and then not at all. Then the remote control became too heavy to lift. I couldn’t turn the lights on or off, or move papers around on the counter. Then the true horror of the situation revealed itself: Cathy couldn’t see me or hear me clearly anymore. Eventually she became completely unaware of my presence. I remember coming up behind Cathy and wrapping my arms around her and telling her I loved her, but though a small smile came to her lips, she felt and heard nothing.

    At the end of the dream, I followed Cathy as she went on a walk. She paused and spoke to people walking their dogs and schoolchildren being dropped by a schoolbus, and her warmth touched me in a way that the sun no longer could. Then she walked down to the beach, and we stood there looking out over the water.

    Analysis and Autobiographic Annotation

    The last time I actually blogged anything of substance dates back to September of last year, almost six months ago. There is a reason for this, and it’s not a good one: for the second time in my life, I had been overcome by a tidal surge of depression. Because my humor is largely melancholic, and because last year was full of unaccustomed doings and undertakings and its stresses were new, it is difficult to know when I passed the boundary between “okay” and “off.” And because I hate the word depression — a flat, generic, overused word — I rejected the label as long as I could, and longer than I should have. I am glad that I didn’t wait as long this time to deal with it as I did the first time, and that I have returned to a good place in such a compressed period of time (I wasn’t so fortunate the first time around).

    One of the byproducts of this dark period is that I had completely isolated myself socially. I didn’t talk to my family except when necessary, I almost completed avoided friends and shrank away from neighbors, and because I am freelancing the only people I really interacted with were my clients. This dream’s sense of invisibility, of fading away, struck me immediately upon waking as a reflection of this freshly past period in my life. I will confess I was a little proud to have an analysis, too — Cathy always knows what her dreams signify, but I almost always declare that mine are just random neural firings and nonsense.

    Not this time, it seems.

    5 Responses to Dream Diary

    1. Cathy McDonald
      March 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Reading this never fails to bring tears to my eyes and popping thoughts to my mind.

    2. Scott
      March 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Is depression not an uncanny mystery, mostly?

    3. Niki
      March 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      I didn’t sense your depression last year, and it makes me long to be more sensitive to what’s really happening with the people I love, not just what they project, and I see, on the surface. I hope your return from depression comes ever more quickly over time. I’m a big believer in dream-sense, and yet am “afraid” to give mine reign. Why is that? I often ask myself as I go about my daily day…

    4. March 17, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Like I said — I really DISLIKE the word “depression.” It’s too vague to be useful, not so much mysterious as it is imprecise. A term like “submersion” might be a more appropriate metaphor for my experience — but it’s just a metaphor for a particular flavor of acute dysphoria.

      Thanks for your well-wishes, Niki, and please don’t feel like you’re unobservant — I’m very good at keeping my inner state inside (as I suspect you are as well).

    5. Niki
      March 18, 2014 at 8:55 am

      A young man on TED Talks said, “Depression is not feeling bad when things are going wrong, that’s sadness. Depression is feeling bad when things are going right.” That makes a lot of sense to me, but I disagree with his conclusion that sadness is a natural human response, and somehow he implied depression is not. I think it is normal. Most people I’ve known have depression off and on. I think it can be useful when we can slow, take stock, undo for awhile, express ourselves, weep for the state of the world and things… get on with the grappling.

      Yes. I am well versed in handling my own sadness and depression. Largely, o orI try not to give it power over me.

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