Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Terrifying World

One day, after I explained to my husband how one should run away if held up at gunpoint (the odds are in your favor that your attacker will miss), my husband looked at me and said, "My god, you live in a terrifying world."

I guess I do let things snowball in my brain. When a squirrel fell from a tree one day, narrowly missing my head, I turned it into a revenge-assassination attempt (I had run over a different squirrel earlier that morning). I'm constantly planning my escape route from any number of disasters, and I can tell you the odds of being killed by the ebola virus, anthrax, terrorist attack, hurricane, or all-of-the-above (not likely to all happen at once, thank the lord).

The worst part of my brain activating these dark, reverberating circuits is that I'm finding I have little "safe" time. Even when sleeping, I can't escape. Last night, I dreamt that I was being suffocated by a man dressed in a long, dark coat and top-hat. He was squeezing my ribs so hard that I could feel them cracking and puncturing my lungs. It was so real and painful, the kind of pain elicited by the combination of lacking oxygen and having your chest compressed by a truck. I tried to escape, but the man followed me until I became paralyzed with fear. I could feel myself trying to move and scream in real life, but it was one of those moments where you only partially wake up, that almost-awake dreamstate. My husband started shaking me before I was officially murdered--I apparently looked like I was convulsing in my sleep and was screaming "No--go away!".

I understand the concept that sleep is needed for memory consolidation and for linking abstract ideas into meaningful concepts. What I don't understand is how that man got in my dream. Isn't it bad enough that I live my waking hours afraid?

27 Comments:

At 5:22 PM, Blogger trisha said...

Man, Rox...that's some heavy stuff. Sorry that bastard was in your dream.

I have those dreams, too, and I also plan my get-away/escape route from every room I am in. I always find myself thinking, "What would I (we) do if I (we) were trapped in this room (or elevator or car..)? What would I (we) eat? Drink?

I practice in my mind what I would do if my car went off the road into a river or lake.

I have dreams of hostage rescues and helicoptor crashes, tornadoes, floods, and plane hijackings.

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger James said...

He's in your dreams because some version of him is in your waking day as well --- seems to me that it'd be only natural that some version of what's in your daily thinking would eventually creep into your sleeping mind, though then the mind goes out of its way to embellish whatever is lurking there.

I think you know me well enough to know I'm not flippant, and I'm surely not being so now, but the anxiety issues likely would benefit from talking to a professional. When dropping squirrels bring on assasins, and you're fixated on obscure and likely pointless statistics regarding ways to die, that's fundamentally not healthy --- I'm sure I'm also not telling you something you don't already know, but I figured I'd say it anyway.

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

I remember in college I had this horrible, long series of knife dreams: being chased by people with knives, being stabbed, being cut...ick. I kept trying to analyze it, figure out what was going on in my head, and then I was talking to a friend one day, trying to figure out why these dreams had started tormenting me, and she said (this was the late 80s), "I don't know. Did you see "Fatal Attraction"?" "Well, yeah," I said, "but it wasn't scary. What could that possibly have to do with it?" And it's true, I wasn't scared by that movie or even particularly affected by it in any way at all. But after that conversation? I never had a knife dream again.

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

So the question is, have you seen some Victorian crime thing lately? Something about Jack the Ripper? Phantom of the Opera? Sometimes, when you're a natural analyzer (and I'm including myself here), the simple explanations slip right by.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Trisha: when the rest of them die off because they weren't prepared, you and I will be thankful for our neurosis;)

James: There are a lot of things that I should probably consider seeking some help for:) The problem is that my perseveration and idea fixation are what make me really good at a lot of things. I'm pretty sure that I can't selectively get rid of of the bad parts while keeping the good. I've noticed (along with others) that my anxiety has increased a lot since my second year of graduate school. There's a type of social detachment that can occur during one's thesis years, and I think my lab environment has only made things worse.

PK: Maybe I was a victim of JR in my former life? I don't know. I've always had suffocation nightmares, even as a very young child. Maybe it is a reflection of someone in my life or something that I observed in my environment...

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

ooooo...creepy! Years ago, a friend of mine was dating this man who claimed to be psychic - he told me that I had been one of the police officers who examined JR's victims in another life.

It's apparent that he was trying to capitalize on my deep interest in London and my fascination with Jack the Ripper.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

So of course last night I had the WORST NIGHTMARES EVER! And I don't even HAVE nightmares anymore. Sigh. Damned subconscious.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

I'm soooo sorry PK. Maybe you're just very intuitive and you felt the troubles of the world brewing.

Wouldn't it be weird, Jessica, if I was a JR victim and you were an investigator in our former lives (if former lives even exist)? What if all of us travel through time constantly making contact with each other? What if PK is JR? Oh, my head hurts.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger trisha said...

former lives have to exist.

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger James said...

"The problem is that my perseveration and idea fixation are what make me really good at a lot of things. I'm pretty sure that I can't selectively get rid of of the bad parts while keeping the good."

I suppose part of the problem is that we're both not professonals in the holistic working of the mind and its manifestations (I'm an interested amateur and you're more reductionist, if I have you correctly). That said, you can't be sure until you've discussed something like this with someone who has some clue about it. People can be fixated on something and be remarkly perseverant without inducing phobias, and vice versa. So we may in fact be talking about two very different things that just happen to be manifesting themselves at the same time with you, and the bad thing may be treatable.

I doubt there are many of us who wouldn't benefit from talking to a mental health professional at some point in our lives, for a myriad of reasons, but in this case I wouldn't exclude the possible benefits of doing so, especially if there were things to be done that worked around having to take medication (I would draw the line there given the potential shotgun results that come with meds.) If the problem isn't debilitating it likely doesn't require extraordinary attention, but if you're to the point of blogging about it then there may be reason to give it more focus and seek professional perspective, if for no other reason than to get a check on how out of the ordinary, or NOT, this is.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

HEY! How come *I* have to be the homicidal maniac? Dude, I am maniacal, but sooo not homicidal! I'm all about peace, love, and chocolate.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

SFTR - HAH! PK as JR...that's hilarious! So THAT'S why she had dreams of knives!

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

The other problem (that I don't like to admit) is that I was once, before my glory days at the bench, trained as one of those people that we all go to for these types of issues. In fact, I'm staring at my Clinical Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neuropsychiatry manuals right now. I also have an interesting ditty called "the Perspectives of Psychiatry" that is an OK read for those interested in the field. We all know that a doctor won't go to another doctor unless he/she is bleeding out of their eyes, and even then they'll still probably try to figure it out on their own. I have a similar issue with seeking mental help. I can also tell you, without hesitation, that I will not qualify for psychotherapy since I have no tangible issues and since my insurance sucks, and that I will be prescribed a low dose anti-anxiety medication that I will not take. That's all for another post, though.

I've been thinking about seeking out some non-traditional (non Western medicine) help since it's been suggested that I do so anyways for some non-mental problems that I've been having. Everything is just so freaking expensive--I'm ready to poke myself with some needles.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Ooh, I'm all about the expensive non-traditional approaches (along with peace, love, and chocolate). You just email me and I'll give you a nice little list of things to try.

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger James said...

Eeeeeeeek ... poke yourself with needles??? Damn ...

Listen, first there's no reason you couldn't have been a good clinician. You may have not felt right for it, but that you had things going on that you were having to deal with may well have given you an insight into patients that someone else may not have had.

Second, you're hitting on the principal problem in this endeavor to seek help --- how do you find someone who is helpful and that you're comfortable with. Admittedly this is a huge issue, and it's often not easy to find the right person to work with either because we're not inclined to want to disassociate with someone (laziness, not wanting to embarrass the person in question, uncertainty, etc.) or it's too hard to keep looking. Bottom line, big problem here, admittedly, but you have the same problem in a non-traditional venue, too.

I would never try to dissuade anyone from seeking relief in any avenue they may pursue, but I would recommend exhausting the traditional methods of trying to find help before getting into something that's not regulated very well or at all, based on little in the way of science (though much about traditional methods falls into this, too), and may not address the main causes of the problem but otherwise provide some measure of relief --- you're not looking for a palliative (if I may presume you're looking at all), you're looking for a better coping mechanism that gets to the root of the problem and which can help you be comfortably unconcerned about men, or anything else, in black coats.

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

I didn't mean to scare you James--I'm not going to poke myself. Even if I wanted to, I can't ever find my sewing needles.

My doctor recommended acupuncture for my migraines and for some early-onset arthritis (well, that's what he thinks it is for now;)). Acupunture is a lot like electrical stimulation in that it has physiological effects without the additional confounds of drug toxicity, metabolites, etc. I haven't tried it yet because it's out of my price range (which is about $10 right now).

I'm glad that I'm not a clinician, although I miss working with people. I am thankful that I dabbled a bit with everything before I made my final decision on a program. Paying off medical school would have been a bitch, especially if I had decided I didn't really want to be a doctor after everything was said and done.

 
At 11:02 PM, Blogger trisha said...

Hey, Roxie, did you read this?

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger trisha said...

ooops. article archived already.

here. i made this page.

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

I never read that--thank you. On top of worrying about individual reactions, we always have to factor in mob mentality. One thing that we often don't talk about is the "collective brain". We think about it when we are studying cults or historical cases like the Salem witch trials, but it's often left out when we are contemplating disaster behavior. Oooo, this post is bringing up so many interesting things for me to think about. Thanks everyone!

PK: I've changed my route home just in case you are JR and you have decided to come kill me;)

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger James said...

SFTR,

Thank God --- I had visions of your blogging looking like a pin cushion.

I've had a similar experience with my primary care doc. I've been wrestling with sciatica (a match that will likely be with me till the grave), and I mentioned having tried a chiropactor and his response to that was, "If regular medicine can't help you (in this case it apparently can't, shy of surgery and the hell with that), then you need to make reasonable, logical choices about what might help you in the alternative world."

As for acupuncture, I'm with you there, and it may well work for migraines and whatever else ailes you. I appreciate that it does work, I just wish we better understood WHY it works. Oh well ...

My overall guess with you is that you make good choices, so if you didn't think something was right for you it wasn't. I hope you're able to find some relief from the pains, etc., sometime soon.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Hmmmm...I definitely wouldn't say that I make good choices, but I definintely try all of my options at least once. I have a habit of being a little stubborn (maybe more than a little) and a little bit of a know it all. In my defense, I usually know as much as my treating physician since I rarely get the luxury of seing a REAL specialist.

I wish I could help you with the sciatica thing. Surgery most likely won't fix it (or could make the pain worse) so it's probably good you haven't tried that option.

Maybe we all need to go to our "happy places" and see if that works:)

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger trisha said...

Man, sciatica must just totally suck. I am so sorry for you.

I had horrible sciatic nerve pain while I was pregnant. I can only imagine...

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Dude(ette), I don't even know what STATE you live in! I'm psychic, but I ain't THAT psychic! :)
See, Trisha, now--I know JUST where she is. Bwahaahahaaa.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Hey, and James, have you tried neuromuscular massage for the sciatica?

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger James said...

Wow ... this is SO cool, and I'm very appreicative for the sympathy and advice.

First, the sciatica isn't that terrible. It came on due to my running days. At some point I started getting these pains in the back of my right leg that felt like a pulled muscle. Went to a doc and yep, sciatica. Running is now out, and if I'm not careful it can go into a pain marathon for a few days --- that said, it's not debilitating, merely very uncomfortable. If I do back exercises, like standard situps, that seems to keep it in check, it's when I do something dumb, like the day I ran 300 feet without thinking, or stop the exercises that it comes back to bother me.

When the sciatica was acting up I tried a chiropractor and a massage therapist, though I can't say that they did neuromuscular massage, but when this happens I seem to be immune to cures. All that said, this isn't an everyday thing, normally I am without pain, and if I'm careful I should be ok. Surgery for this is a total non-option. The fact is that many people, and as Trisha points out, women who are pregnant, live with far worse sciatica than I do. My frustration with this is there's no real way to fix it --- but if this is the worst of my troubles I'll be a happy camper.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

I'm pretty sure you all know where I'm at since I'm too lazy to REALLY try to hide it. As far as I kno, I'm not a hooker, so we can all be friends still. Well, maybe PK and Jessica can't be friends, and I'm not sure who Trisha was before...but we can at least try to get along.

ps It took me a while, but I think Fatal Attraction was a really scary movie. That poor rabbit.

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger trisha said...

James, we care. it's that simple.

And we are women.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home