One of the side effects not often discussed with menopause is the nightmares. It’s like being a kid and having night terrors all over again.
I am what is called a lucid dreamer. What I see, hear, smell, touch, eat, in my dream, is still in my brain when I wake up. There are two side effects from this, sometimes dreams implant as memories in my brain. Not memories I had a dream, but memories that I did whatever was in the dream.
This is problematic because sometimes I kill people in my dreams. This is a more common dream than people realize and it seems to revolve around being concerned for the person that gets killed, whether you kill them or someone else does.
Two: bad dreams are really, really, really bad. Imagine having a nightmare like what happens at the end of Battered Dreams, but you can smell the blood and gore, you can feel it on your skin, and for the first minute or two you are awake, none of that sensory stimulation goes away. Meaning after I have woken up, I can still smell it, still feel it, still see it in all it’s glorious violent horror.
This is why I developed sleep anxiety. Couple those awful nightmares with dreams that implant as memories that everyone tells you just didn’t happen and then you realize your dreams are implanting as memories, and yeah, it makes one not want to get much shut eye.
When the nightmares started in earnest in December, I thought they were stress related. Nearly 3 months without my Clonazepam, and well the nightmares and my sleep anxiety, got a little worse. I spoke to my mom about the nightmares, because I had a strange dream about a Burmese python slithering across a road in front of me.. I’m not afraid of snakes, making it bizarre that the dream woke me up and I was still suffering from a touch of panicky fear.
She confirmed she had nightmares when she was in menopause. I went and looked it up, it’s fairly common. Why did someone forget to tell me this?! It seems like it was important, need to know, information.
I have a lot of weird dreams, but they rarely cause me fear. What’s strange for me, is that the nightmares I’m used to, those of killing people or trying to save someone from being killed, aren’t happening. Instead, I’m getting dreams about snakes that shouldn’t frighten me, but do. Before menopause, the above mentioned python dream would have made it into the weird pile, not the terrifying pile. And because I am a lucid dreamer with a heightened olfactory system, I could smell the python, and hear it hiss. Yes, snakes have a distinctive smell.
It has definitely made me wonder what the next five years or so has in store for my lucid nightmares.