'she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with laughing'
April 10, 2020 10:01 PM   Subscribe

Dreams in the time of Coronavirus-- You aren't imagining things. We're all having coronavirus dreams now . (Vice) You can take the dream survey from the article here.

Here's another article on the phenomenon from the World Economic Forum website.

Andrew Cuomo in a tutu. (Refinery29)

BBC Explains (YouTube)

#Quarandreams on Twitter.

There's also Quarantine induced insomnia to contend with.
posted by frumiousb (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This has been bad for nightmares.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:50 PM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I haven't so far. Presumably the six dreamcatchers above the bed are doing tbeir job right. I am actually pretty dreamless most of the time, yay.

Did I just jinx myself?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:19 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I keep dreaming I wake up and I'm coughing and feverish, and then when I really wake up I nearly cry with relief.
posted by frumiousb at 12:42 AM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

"The notes in question were those descriptive of the dreams of various persons covering the same period as that in which young Wilcox had had his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, had quickly instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquiries amongst nearly all the friends whom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, and the dates of any notable visions for some time past. [...] Average people in society and business—New England’s traditional “salt of the earth”—gave an almost completely negative result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal impressions appear here and there, always between March 23d and April 2nd—the period of young Wilcox’s delirium. Scientific men were little more affected, though four cases of vague description suggest fugitive glimpses of strange landscapes, and in one case there is mentioned a dread of something abnormal.

It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know that panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. [...] These responses from aesthetes told a disturbing tale. From February 28th to April 2nd a large proportion of them had dreamed very bizarre things, the intensity of the dreams being immeasurably the stronger during the period of the sculptor’s delirium. Over a fourth of those who reported anything, reported scenes and half-sounds not unlike those which Wilcox had described; and some of the dreamers confessed acute fear of the gigantic nameless thing visible toward the last. One case, which the note describes with emphasis, was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism, went violently insane on the date of young Wilcox’s seizure, and expired several months later after incessant screamings to be saved from some escaped denizen of hell."
posted by BinaryApe at 12:49 AM on April 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

They say reading about or hearing about other people’s dreams is boring, but I found it reassuring to read about other people’s dreams in the linked articles.

I’ve been having lots of regular anxiety dreams (suddenly in a foreign country, did not pack enough clothes, have to walk around half-naked; late for something but can’t make it there in time because of endless ridiculous obstacles). It took me a while to have a coronavirus dream, but I had one two weeks in: I had gone to the library and was standing in line to check out my books when I (and everyone else in line) suddenly remembered CORONAVIRUS and started trying to stand six feet apart, but we were all crammed together. There were officials there, shouting at us to step apart from each other and we were trying, but we were packed together so tightly we couldn’t move. It was so vivid and awful. I woke up very distressed and certain I was going to get the coronavirus, and like frumiousb almost wept with relief when I realized it was just a dream.

And since that single dream I have gone back to having just regular anxiety dreams. Somehow I feel like my brain decided I can’t take the intensity of dreaming about coronavirus so it’s settled for making me dream about taking tests for classes I don’t remember signing up for, instead.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:54 AM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Dreaming absolutely furiously right now, but I'd attributed it to playing diablo and drinking on zoom with pals til 1am nightly, more of a paraphenomenon really.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:08 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Falling, forever. Also I'm most often at work in the dream, which is boring, not to mention incredibly frustrating when I wake up
posted by eustatic at 3:25 AM on April 11, 2020

Working from home dreams. We haven't started the remote and flexible term yet, so there is a lot on my mind about how it's going to play out.
posted by freethefeet at 3:46 AM on April 11, 2020

Great. Another thing "we're all" doing that I'm not a part of.
Another chance to look at 'Us' magazine and realize I'm a 'Them'.
posted by MtDewd at 3:56 AM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

My nightmares (which I remember having for all of my 38 years, so probably 33 or so years of actual awareness) have all but gone away. So has my anxiety. My fingernails have never looked better because I just magically stopped biting. Full confession, I think it's because I've always been a catastrophic thinker and now LOOK, I was RIGHT to be worried. How deeply sad of a testament that is to my psyche?
posted by lextex at 4:48 AM on April 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

i dreamed white people came in a minivan to steal my toilet paper but that's about it
posted by poffin boffin at 4:56 AM on April 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

the insomnia/hypersomnia/utterly fucked sleep schedule thing is the real killer. i am Suffering.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:58 AM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

lextex - I take this differently. I am similar — anxious until there is a crisis, and then I am calm and focused. Finally realized that I am a human equivalent of a border collie: I am wired for crisis. Maybe I descend from a line of warriors. I don’t know. But since I’ve started to re-align my life by changing my line of work to more crisis intervention type things, I am overall much calmer and happier. I have sheep to herd.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:51 AM on April 11, 2020 [13 favorites]

It's like my personal anxiety grew legs and walked out into the streets. I had just finished a work contract, so apart from having a vacation cancelled, nothing much has changed from my original plans the stay home and work on hobbies for a couple months...except the world has stopped, so now I don't feel so much like I'm falling behind in my career/finances. All my worry is directed to loved ones and vulnerable people "out there".

This morning I dreamt I was a god, looking down on an ant-sized summer athletic games. I remember a couple of the competitions:

-throwing discus in the direction of crowds
-running with sparklers.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:54 AM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been having volcano dreams: rivers of fire, buried alive, that sort of thing. I wake up twisted horizontal, I assume from trying to get away from all the lava and ash. This morning, my first moment of awareness was feeling air below my feet which were hanging halfway off the bed and getting blasted by the heating system turning on.

At least with Pompeii, it was all over in a matter of minutes.

(On the plus side, though, my dream-self is snarky enough to quote The Curse of Monkey Island in the middle of a natural disaster. So there's that.)
posted by basalganglia at 5:57 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Silvery Fish This makes absolute sense to me. I've always thrived when things are horrible or stressful. I just applied to a program that will lead my career into crisis intervention territory, and I am excited while everyone around me looks on in horror and worries that I'll crumble under the weight. Thanks for talking about this. It's not something that a lot of people can relate to.
posted by lextex at 6:17 AM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

lextex - you’re a fucking warrior! Glad you came to trust that impulse! Great luck in your program — and welcome home. :) :)
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:40 AM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I seem to be missing diverse physical contact, since my dreams for the past three nights in a row have featured prolonged, sexy, Regency-style hand-holding. Brains are so weird.
posted by merriment at 6:57 AM on April 11, 2020 [8 favorites]

Lately I’ve dreamed of lost friends; on waking I feel empty and lost for hours, trying to find my way back to the dream place along memory paths that quickly fade.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:25 AM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

One of my recurring dream types is the Bad Travel dream, where I am in the middle of a plane ride or on a ship and it turns out I don’t have the right documents, or I’m going to the wrong destination, or I can’t pay ... These are appearing with an extra flavor of desperation added by the thought that I shouldn’t be traveling or that I won’t be allowed where I’m going. The Missed Exam dream has also appeared in this guise (how can I take that one exam I forgot to take in college now?)

But occasionally there is relief and escape. Last night I dreamed I had started on a public project of walking up the West Coast—the literal coast, that is, wading up along the waterline of the whole country. That way I wouldn’t be getting in any regulated space or breaking laws. It was pleasant, but then, of course, I woke up.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:31 AM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ive been having dreams where I touch people. I don’t ever have sexual dreams so it’s pretty weird I’m dreaming of just hugging or sitting next to people.

I live alone and have been single a long time. It’s been over a month since I hugged a friend.
posted by affectionateborg at 7:35 AM on April 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

I had a dream that I went to a web site that had over thirty applets loading (large quantities) and mining data from/to my computer. Then I realized I was awake and visiting vice.com...

I am not dreaming as my internal 'Me' has had several life changing moments in the past. Serious car wreck (car sliced in two by a cement truck, drivers-side ablaze 1/3 mile away back down the highway, I was the driver with no passenger, and the remains of the seat belt showed I was buckled in) which I walked away from relatively unscathed - bump on head and friction burns to legs ... somehow... being one, and the existential dread of being told I had throat cancer (fully recovered) being another etc etc etc. With those moments 'under my belt' in the life/death experience department there is very little that worries me and when something does it is normally base instinct which a rational mind soon quells as being relatively insignificant in the whole scheme of things.

While I understand/sympathize/empathize with the 'stress' people may be/are experiencing, I fail to see why the isolation should be considered a time of angst, stress, and anxiety. The major issue is one of a change of routine and a level of uncertainty. I personally am embracing the opportunities the change is providing me with and using the time as constructively as possible instead of looking at my navel and wondering "Why?"...
posted by IndelibleUnderpants at 7:43 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

My wife and I were just talking about this in bed while we procrastinated getting up. She is having very vivid dreams that she remembers, which is not normal for her. I rarely remember my dreams, and that hasn't changed. However, I normally I wake up 2 or 3 times every night, and for the last several weeks I've been sleeping like a rock.
posted by COD at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

My weirdest recent dream: they made an updated, Lego version of Rocky Horror, which is bad enough, but I was mad because the point of the movie is that it never changes. I am experiencing a lot of change in my life, so that could be why.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:30 AM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

So, I haven't told this story to anyone because it sounds really IDK fake and attention-seeking, but I got super sick back in the beginning of February with what I believe to be COVID-19. I went out on a Saturday night feeling amazing, went to bed that night and had a really horrible nightmare about societal upheaval and collapse (fires, riots, death, just general chaos) and woke up the next morning with a fever and body aches. I have had nightmares but usually they are about the suffering or death of people I am close to not just some in general end-of-the world theme. Eventually I developed a cough a few days later that was so bad I couldn't sleep, nothing controlled it (not even doubling up on Mucinex) and I almost threw up a few times because of it. I've been calling it the "hell flu" because nothing tamed my symptoms but now I wonder.

I still wonder if that dream was some sort of premonition for things to come, although I hope it doesn't get that bad.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:50 AM on April 11, 2020

I dreamed that the library was open. I asked a librarian if they were having a special opening for a day to help people restock on books and he was confused, like, no, we're always open. I was so disappointed when I woke up (but less bewildered to realize that the libraries are closed and no, won't be doing any special openings to distribute more books).
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:04 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

My mother had told me she dreamed about her father when he died, and found it comforting. She always said that if she could, she would try to come in dreams after she died. Indeed, I did have a couple of quite uncanny dreams about her, as did my husband ... wish fulfillment or whatever, I have not picked them apart. Anyway, my father the avowed atheist would never do such a thing, and has showed up in ordinary dreams, but not ones that could seem uncanny.

The other day I was stressing about Covid19 and said to myself jokingly, "Hey Dad, if ever there was a time to show up, now would be the time. Mom did but you never did." So, sure enough, I dreamed about him a couple nights later. In the dream I don't see him, he just says my name (family nickname only he and Mom used for me), so he just says "gudrun-nickname", just once, quite forcefully. The feel was like, "I'm here, I'm paying attention, ok?"

I had to laugh, because it was so typical of how he would have acted, so either my subconscious was schooling me to just get on with it, or he was ....
posted by gudrun at 9:16 AM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

The one covid nightmare I remember--and this was the kind that takes a bit to realize it wasn't true--involved a report that as they understood the epidemiology, the one remaining vector they needed to shut down to make us all safe was fresh vegetables.
posted by mark k at 10:19 AM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been dreaming about swimming. Easy interpretation: I miss swimming (which I do); bigger interpretation: I feel adrift (which I do).
posted by Gray Duck at 10:20 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I did dream last night that I was hanging out in the home of a friend I have not heard from since this happened. It was nice. The old world.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:33 AM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

The person I’m staying with for the duration dreamt she was eating dinner and President Obama sat down next to her and sang her some songs, then they walked around the block holding hands.

She woke up very happy.
posted by skyscraper at 10:43 AM on April 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

I've only had one so far. I was in Mexico to climb the high volcanoes there (something I've long dreamed of doing). It was spectacularly beautiful being up so high, enjoying the views, hiking....then I remembered oh shit, I'm not allowed to travel! and started freaking out about how I had managed to fly to Mexico for my selfish fun in the middle of an epidemic.
posted by medusa at 1:30 PM on April 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I had nightmares for about a month and a half before the quarentine thing started. I once woke up with a voice in my head that said (I'm quoting it word for word)"Something really bad is coming!" I never once thought it was tied to the virus way over in China, which seemed pretty much a non issue to me back then. About the second week of March we all began quarentining (in the US) and the nightmares stoped and then I finally got it. "Ooooooh! This was the problem...
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:31 PM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's awful. All of the dreams are about lack of control regarding the natural spontaneity of social situations and resulting contamination. I wake up relieved that the - out of context innocuous, within context mortifying - events did not occur and have to remember not to touch my own face.
posted by Selena777 at 1:57 PM on April 11, 2020

No joke, for a couple of weeks I was having vivid shame-nightmares about ineptly organizing a Zoom meeting. Everyone was mildly disappointed with me, night after night.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:57 PM on April 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

My dreams are pretty much the same old shit, different REM cycle from before self-isolating. Usually walking through endless, labyrinthine university campuses/shopping malls/food courts and forgetting my purse/clothes/location of a functional restroom.
Last night at a certain point it did occur to me that I was dreaming. So I tried pinching myself to wake up. In the dream, I felt pain from the pinch, and decided "guess I'm not dreaming then," and just went on dreaming. That was...new.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:51 PM on April 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Had my first virus dream last night. I had to go back to work to get something or other and people were milling about, not keeping six feet of distance. Could have been worse. Probably will be worse later.

Now the NYT has an article on this.
For anyone looking to wrest control over their dreams back from a runaway subconscious, Dr. Barrett recommends attempting to “program” your dreams as you fall asleep. So-called “dream incubation,” she said, “has a pretty high success rate.”
Choose a category of dream you’d like to have — for instance: flying, although the intended dream subject need not be abstract. At bedtime, remind yourself of it.
“If you’re a good visualizer, imagine yourself soaring aloft,” she said. “If images don’t come easily to you, place a photo or other objects related to the topic on your nightstand to view as the last thing before turning off your light.”
Repeat to yourself what you want to dream about as you drift off to sleep. The technique, she cautioned, works “much better than chance, but not reliably every night anyone is trying it.”
Whether or not you end up with some mastery over your dreams, you can take heart in the fact that even vivid, strange ones are good for you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2020

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