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Memory & Dream

The Effexor really does have an odd effect on my dreams.

It's not, however, that they are "weird" per se--they're always weird, of course. I don't know that they could get much weirder in any dimension, and while they seem marginally more coherent now, such things are too subjective to say with any confidence--it's not like you can lay two dreams side by side and see which one unravels first.

What they are is vivid. Highly detailed. The other night, at one point I tripped on the sidewalk in a dream, and the sidewalk was incredibly detailed--cracked pavement, gravel, lumpy textures, scattered all over with little blue cubes of broken safety glass where a car windshield had shattered at some point in the past. It's as if I've begun dreaming in high resolution.

What I wonder, though, is whether I'm really dreaming in greater detail, or whether I'm remembering the details more clearly. Were the sidewalks in my dreams always elegantly realized, and they're only now sticking with me as I wake up? Are the drugs affecting my dreams, or my memory of the dreams?

Or, for that matter, since dreams are often constructed of memories, are the dreams calling up more and crisper memories? Last night, I dreamed I was in my grandmother's house, and it was surprisingly well realized. I'd always remembered the antique bed, but I'd half-forgotten that the bathtub was pink, and that there was a dark wood bookcase against the wall in that room, but there they were. (And, rather interestingly, it was entirely and only my grandmother's house--there was none of the mish-mash of remembered homes and old apartments that tend to make up the architecture of dreams.) 

Well, we probably don't know enough about either brain chemistry or dreaming to say either way. Still. It's peculiar.

Last night, I dreamed that I was in my grandmother's house, and James was there. He kept saying that he was hearing noises outside, and I was telling him that he was paranoid. Eventually I went and took a bath  and I was sitting in the pink tub, staring idily out the window. (Here the dream took some liberties and apparently moved the tub about two feet over--you couldn't really see out the bedroom window from the bathtub in reality.) It was dark out, and the sky was deep indigo, with black tree shadows across it. After awhile, I noticed that there was an odd movement--one of the shadows was moving just slightly, blocking out a star now and again. It was rounded at the top, and after staring at it for awhile, I realized it was somebody's head, peering in the window.

"Holy crap!" I yelled, leaping out of the tub, "there IS somebody out there!" Heedless of my current state of undress, I charged the window. The man outside recoiled, and there was a brief flicker of light off the lenses of his glasses. (Like I said. VERY detailed.)  James took off like a shot, running for the backyard, and I knew I had to distract this guy.

Fortunately, it wasn't hard. The stalker was, in fact, a cop--in uniform, no less!--and he was laughing at me. I was yelling obscenities and flipping him off--and jiggling, one assumes, my dream was rather ruthless detailed on some points--and this sufficiently distracted the gentleman for James to come round the side of the house and calmly fire a shotgun at him from more or less point blank range.

"Holy crap," I said, coming outside (I assume I must have thrown clothes on at some point here) "do you have a permit for that?"

"I have five," he said, unruffled.

We stood and stared down at the bleeding body. I have learned never to trust that anything is dead in my dreams, and so further measures were called for.

At the point, the dog showed up. It was a small blond Pomeranian. "Aha!" I said, grabbing the dog. "I've got it! We'll put the guy's consciousness in the dog!"

"Is that a good idea?"

"A Pomeranian is bound to be less trouble than an injured six-foot-tall cop with a gun." (Which only goes to show that I am no brighter in my dreams.)

Apparently my subconscious is convinced of my astonishing shamanic powers, because it was no sooner said than done, whereupon the flaw in my plan became obvious.  The dog, needless to say, went berserk. Drastic measures were called for, which involved chasing the dog through the carport for twenty minutes and then soaking the possessed Pom with pesticide (Ortho brand, interestingly enough.) which stunned it.

I called 911--got an elaborately detailed hold message--and finally reached an operator, whereupon I explained that we'd shot a cop and then stuffed his soul into a dog, then hosed the dog down with weed-killer. They seemed to take this very calmly and asked my address. I couldn't remember it, and wound up trying to read the mailboxes, and gave them the wrong numbers twice before I finally got it right.

Eventually the police arrived, and were unfazed by the situation. They asked me to return their wayward colleagues soul--I did--checked the gun permits (he really did have five, and a permit to carry concealed to boot) apologized for the trouble, and left, and the dream dissolved into vagueness.

And I woke up and went "Dude."

Well, okay, maybe they're a LITTLE weirder now...

I used to think my dreams were weird, but...

That; that right there, takes the cake.

Reality can be illusion, and illusion can be reality.

Now you have me picturing a topiary pomeranian...or a little pomeranian that is now free of weeds and really pissed off at the world.
Thank you!
I love reading about your dreams. They really brighten up my days! Now, back to work for me!
Thanks again!

Whoa. If I ever need a plot for a weird story, I now know what to take before sleeping.

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Yes, same thing with Wellbutrin too. I used to look forward to dreams, now I almost dread them. Not that they are so horrific (as a rule) but they are so exhausting in their detail. So VIVID. Concentrating on minutia in a dream can all feel so pointless in the morning.

I sometimes wonder if I'm dreaming with another part of my brain than before drugs. It's obviously pulling up true memories of detail, rather than the usual mish-mash of a dream, so it has to be tapping into a different vein. And I wonder if the exhaustion I feel is because it isn't actually restful to make my brain work so hard at night. Instead of a data dump, which a dream usually is, there seems to be a need to populate my dreamsape with lifelike detail.

The alien invasion/end of the world type dreams don't happen as often anymore, but the dreams are no less believable, and I'm going on 5 years now.

On the other hand, I don't seem to have your recall of detail in waking life. I more or less recall things the way I always have, no clearer. Thank Goddess for small favors.

She's upgraded to HDMI hookups in her dreams!!1

Man, I wish my Effexor was doing this to my dreams. Maybe I have to give it more time, I just started it this week.

My Effexor dreams could be very technically detailed (a capacitor winding machine in operation, no less, which I've only seen in still photos), so I
do believe some synthesis is really at work here.

Glad your dream so neatly resolved itself; I mean, shooting a cop after all...

i've been on effexor for a few years now, and i still get the crazy-vivid dreams. also night sweats. there are times I've been late for work because I refuse to wake up before I find out how a dream ends.

Dreams are, to the best of my understanding, random noise on the inputs to the brain being interpreted by matching against your memories and expectations. One article I recently read likened it to a very fast and complex game of twenty questions with answers which are basically random but consistent with your memories/past-experiences: "The sidewalk - smooth or gravelly? Gravelly. Clear or debris-laden? Debris laden. Cigarette butts? No. Broken car-window glass? Yeah..." Etc. So maybe your brain is just asking more questions about each thing that pops up in your dream before moving on to ask "what's next". The semi-random nature of the responses explains why details are so hard to pin down from moment to moment in dreams. (I had the hardest time last night in my dreams trying to find a street sign so I could call in a report of thugs beating a cop with a baseball bat...)

The vivid drug dreams, tho, don't have details that morph from moment to moment. That's the whole problem -- the world is real. Signs can be read, tests can be taken, clothes can be examined. Things stay put. It's disturbing for a dream to do that!

Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications tend to give people really vivid dreams, but to my knowledge, no one's really found out exactly why.

Wait til you start having ones so vivid you think they're real and start calling people about stuff that never happened...

Oh, and is that by any chance a Charles de Lint reference I see as the title?

*small fangirl squee*

"Do you have a permit for that?"
"I have five," he said, unruffled.

My kind of people, in this specific and narrowly defined case.

ROTFLOL. That is the BEST part.
Ursula should put that to comic. Or Icon.

Junior psychoanalyst to the rescue!

I take Fluoxetine (aka Prozac), and find my dreams extremely vivid towards the end of my sleep cycle as well.

Well, lets see what this means... In a perfect world, police officers represent security. Your Grandmother's house represents a place where you feel safe and happy as well. James, who is also supposed to represent a form of security and happiness, instead of supporting, kills part of your security.

There's as many interpretations as there are people, but that's my .02

I would prefer the fluffy little dogs and soul stuffing. Last nights dream consisted of rawhead and bloody bones. its not every night that you get to dream about fey boogeymen.

I appear to be the only person who has this effect WITHOUT some kind of brain chemical-altering drugs. My dreams, when my brain chooses to remember them, are always in HD. I've never been able to figure it out, but maybe my brain chemistry is like that of someone on these drugs? I've never taken psychiatric medications before, but I have ridiculously vivid dreams and sense-memory.
Imagine always being able to smell someone walk by on the street and be able to tell what cologne/perfume, deodorant, shampoo, and laundry detergent he/she uses...just because it recalls really specific memories in insane amounts of detail.
I'd say enjoy the dreams and be glad that you don't have the daytime effect...it can get really odd (especially when you look at a new acquaintance and know exactly what perfume she's wearing).