UNITED STATES—As a psychology undergraduate I was super intrigued in my abnormal psych course when we studied all things dreams. What they mean? Why we have them and ways that we can best understand what they mean. I am a firm believer that just thinking about something for a minute (actually less than that) can actually trigger a dream or the next stage of the dream world, a nightmare. I can really get into some nitty gritty about the comparison of a dream and a nightmare. Some would make the argument that they are both the same thing. I on the other hand would disagree with that assessment.

A dream is something that brings you positive energy in most cases a nightmare is the exact opposite. It’s your deepest, darkest fears or anxieties rearing its ugly head. With most dreams I think most Americans can decipher it is not real, but with a nightmare there tends to be a level of realism that scares you to the bones. I recently had a nightmare this week that shook me to the core. The scary element is I’ve had a similar nightmare a few weeks back with a similar theme.

I don’t even want to overindulge in the details too much out of fear that it might trigger another nightmare. All I will say is that it was the result of a movie I saw as a kid that my mother warned me to never watch and I haven’t watched that movie since I was 6 or 7 years old. The nightmare is always the same: someone is trying to kill me and the people closet to me. It sends chills down my spine because I know it’s not plausible, but while sleeping, it is so visceral, intense that it shakes me out of my sleep. So much to the point that I cannot go back to sleep and that is not a good feeling.

Why am I constantly having this nightmare? Is it a sign from the universe that I shall face my fear and watch that movie that scared me senseless as a child? I thought about that, and told myself, no, I rather not open up a door that I probably cannot close and I don’t want to travel down that path. Could I be worried about family, and that is a trigger for such nightmares? Maybe, but then again maybe not. The odd thing is I’m not even thinking about the flick, but for some reason it has to be in my subconscious if these nightmares keep getting triggered.

I sleep best when I don’t have nightmares at all, hell, when I don’t dream at all I get my best sleep. I rather not dream at all when I’m sleeping; that is when I feel at peace the most. However, I’m not the only person who has triggering nightmares, we all do. Some nightmares can be more intense than others, however, as long as I have lived I have ONLY had 1 nightmare that truly shook me to the core, it came out of left field, but the level of haunt it delivered left me shaken. I have never had a nightmare as triggering as that one that nearly had me screaming in my sleep and waking up in a major sweat.

I have this odd belief that it’s ok to journal the nightmare, but not to publicly share it with others out of fear of placing it into the universe and it coming to fruition. I do believe nightmares are telling sign of anxieties we might have, things we ignore or don’t want to confront, but at the same time things are so outlandish, watching a bad movie, witnessing something terrible on TV or reading something disturbing can start to mess with that psyche and that is all it takes to force you to have a sleepless night. At least we can all agree, at the end of the day it’s just a nightmare or is it?

Written By Jason Jones