Are your anxiety dreams now nightmares? Welcome to the next phase of pandemic sleep | Bidisha

I’ve always had crushingly obvious and literal dreams. I once dreamed I was wheeling luggage up a hill, paused to catch my breath and said out loud: “I wish I could let go of my baggage. It’s so heavy!” It was a medium-sized wheelie case. Another time, I dreamed I assembled a mid-range Nespresso machine, organised all the little pods by colour and selected a purple one. It was called Savannah Roast in the dream, but in reality I believe it’s called Arpeggio. I sat down and drank it, in real time, sip by sup.

Under lockdown – or whatever this fugue state is – the dreams have got darker. Everyone’s psychological “stuff” is coming up. Without any fresh stimulus from the outside world or positive speculation about our individual futures, all our fears and nightmares are getting an airing. That means the classic anxiety dreams are back.

Lost a shoe? Teeth crumbling? Can’t read a very important letter? I’m right there with you. I’m also somehow magically back at school, in the language corridor, aged 40 and yet still wearing my hideous green uniform, unable to find the right classroom. And then there I am on stage, naked from the waist down, unable to remember my lines as I approach the big moment when I have to cry. The rest of the cast eyeball me in silent panic, willing me to start the tears, but I can’t. And then comes the kicker: I’m at a cheesy and somewhat outdated showbiz party like the wedding reception in Guns N’ Roses’ interminable video for November Rain. There are wafting muslin curtains across a balcony, champagne flutes on silver trays, twinkling fairy lights and beautiful women in red dresses. The swanky pianist pauses mid-tune, looks me up and down and says: “Didn’t you used to be someone?” Obscurity: the ultimate nightmare.


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