Ambien Dreams Pt.3

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Ambien has the curious side effect of making your dreams incredibly vivid and lifelike. Some dreams are so vivid they form regular memories. This particular dream still haunts me. 


I lived in Yemen for a couple of years. It still influences my dreams from time to time. They typically start with astonishment of being back there and then morph into worry about my personal safety as the place has changed over the years. This particular dream veered into the general paranoid political vibe of the Middle East. There was always the worry that some group or other would do something and you would be swept along in whatever came next. 


I had been nabbed by a group of men. They were either from Hezbollah or the Mossad, my memory is hazy about it. In any case, whichever side they were on, a meeting with a representative from the other side had been set up to discuss the identity and location of several prisoners.  The informant would only meet with someone that was not affiliated with either group. I was to be that contact. I didn’t quite understand the situation. Were they a double agent? How was it that the identity wasn’t known to either side yet both knew about the meeting? My captors informed me that whatever I might think of the situation, I was now in it and there was no way out. My understanding was irrelevant, I had a job to do. 

The location had been swept to insure there was no video surveillance but it was assumed that audio was unavoidable. I took this to mean that they would certainly be monitoring the situation and assumed the other party would be too. Therefore it was imperative to do the entire meeting in complete silence in order to preserve the agent’s identity. 

I was terrified. Lives were in my hands. Stressed to the max, I found the location and went inside. My heart was pounding waiting for the agent to arrive. When the door opened I could hardly believe my eyes, I knew her! I blurted out, “Amber!”

Amber and I had been friends throughout high school and into my sophomore year of college. At the time of this dream I probably hadn’t seen or heard from her in over 20 years. She was a photo major as well but went to a Baptist school in Bristol Virginia. Needless to say I never would have expected anyone from my high school days to show up in a situation like I found myself in the dream. On top of that, of all the people I knew in high school she wouldn’t have cracked my top 25 list of people that might have gotten into spy craft.

When I blurted out her name she stopped and stared, clearly as surprised as I was. Then the color drained out of her face making her freckles stand out even more than usual. Without saying anything, she strode over to the table and pulled out some markers from her pockets. I noticed her hand shaking as she brought the marker to the paper but steadied in order to write. She made several shapes and wrote some things in Arabic.  The information was several names and cell locations. I could feel her looking at me when she stopped writing. Looking up she wordlessly asked if I understood. I nodded. 

That’s when tears welled up in her eyes. Only then did I understand that by revealing her name and that I knew her I had blown her cover. She probably wouldn’t be alive for very much longer. Grabbing the paper she turned around, pulled out a lighter, and lit a corner. With her back to me she dropped it in the wastebasket by the door and watched it burn. Once the flame died she walked out without ever turning back around. 

Then I opened my eyes and I was back in my room. 


Ambien Dreams Pt. 2

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In the last post I recounted my first memorable and disconcerting Ambien influenced dream. I cannot stress enough just how life like and vivid these dreams are. This one stars Elizabeth, a classmate of mine in high school. We were certainly friendly in high school but not close. The only family members of hers I have ever met is her sister and aside from one fairly long Facebook chat around 20008 or so we haven’t really kept up. I do see a lot of her posts on Facebook so I’m familiar with her daughter Josephine. I had this dream 6 or 7 years ago I think, it is still very clear in my mind now.

Elizabeth and I are hanging out and she is eager to introduce me to her daughter. Her various Facebook posts over the years have gushed over how proud she is of her. We see her across the yard and as we get closer a state trooper steps in front of us and says, “Sorry ma’am, but your daughter is under arrest.”

Elizabeth goes apeshit. I manage to, if not calm her down, at least convince her that assaulting a cop isn’t going to help anyone. We’re both stunned, not knowing what’s going and we start speculating. As we walk away, someone in a group of people points at us and says, “That’s her mother, GET THEM!”

We start running. Luckily we are close to my mother’s house and get in before they catch up to us. I’m able to lock the door before they try the knob. Dream logic dictates that once a door is locked it is inpenatrable so I feel safe. Even thought there’s no chance of them getting in, they attempt to shoot out the lock. Holy crap, they brought guns! I then realize there is another door at the back of the garage I have to lock before they get in.

I grab one of the portable phones (remember them?) and call 911 as I go into the garage to check the back door. I am immediately put on hold. On hold? What the hell?

As I open the inside door, I can’t believe that I forgot that the 911 dispatch office is in my mother’s garage. The dispatcher is on another call of course but he notices me. I manage to pantomime the fact that people with guns are trying to kill us. He looks suitably alarmed and makes it known that help is on its way.

The back door was locked. I wave to the dispatcher as I go back inside but something isn’t quite right… Oh wait, what was in the garage? The 911 dispatcher has never been in mom’s garage, that doesn’t even make any sense. It then hits me, I am actually dreaming. What a relief!

While I was away the confrontation had escalated into a full on firefight. Elizabeth and her parents are returning fire with a variety of long guns. I start waving my arms and yelling, “IT’S OK, THIS IS JUST A DREAM!”

The shooting stops and her mother turns to me and says, “We thought that might be the case.” They then start to jostle and shake Elizabeth, “Wake up! WAKE UP!”

Confused, I yell out, “No, I’m dreaming!” Her mother gives me a strange look of annoyance and pity, and goes back to wrestling with her daughter. “This is my dream!”

Uh oh.

Realization of the consequences of it being Elizabeth’s dream dawned on me. I looked around my mother’s house and my hands. “I’m dreaming!… Aren’t I?”

I then open my eyes and find myself in my room.

Yes, I think we have all seen those episodes of TV where characters realize that they are imaginary characters in dreams, holodecks, or whatever. The first one you see is interesting, the rest feel a bit hackneyed. Let me tell you, thinking that you are the imaginary character about to wink out of existence is a much different experience than watching it on TV. I have never felt anything like it before and hope to never again.


I’m a Dreamer

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I have always had vivid dreams. Dreams that have created memories that feel as real as any other experience. That has had some long term consequences on how reliable I consider memories. I’ll talk about that later on, right now I just want to share some of the dreams that have stuck with me. This is the first one I remember after having started using Ambien to help with a wicked case of insomnia. Needless to say that kicked things up a notch.

I get an infusion at a doctor’s office every 4–6 weeks. I’m sitting in the chair waiting for my infusion nurse Mary to stick the IV in my arm. Instead, she complains about being tired, curls up in a chair next to me and falls asleep. That makes me a little upset, but then again, I’m feeling rather drowsy myself so maybe I should drift off too…

As I wake up, groggy, I notice my father and stepmother in the room with me. They’re talking excitedly but hushed, “He’s waking up! Here, take it easy…” I don’t recognize the room. I get the distinct feeling that the fact I woke up is exciting means I was in a coma or something. My stepmother takes my arm and leads me out of the room.

We walk out into an absolutely palatial building. We’re talking castle or  resort hotel level of sprawl. As we move from one enormous room to another we settle in front of a huge, floor to ceiling window. Outside I can see that we are high up on a bluff overlooking the ocean. We’re on a cove and the land sweeps along to my left and just out into the ocean. Enormous waves are crashing against the rocky coast and sheer cliffs.

All of this is disorienting, I finally ask where we are. My stepmother says, “This is our Nova Scotia house.” Huh? That only adds to my confusion. “How could possibly afford this, did you win the lottery?” She looks at me funny, cocks her head to the side and says, “Isaac, you’re sleepwalking, go back to bed.” Oh thank God!

As she escorts me back to the room I tell her I knew that Ambien can do things like this. “I’ve never sleepwalked before but now everything makes sense, wow, what a relief!” As she fiddles with the doorknob I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. I’m in my normal room.

I want to make it explicitly clear, I did not “wake up,” I just opened my eyes. What I was looking at was no more or less real feeling than that house in Nova Scotia or the infusion clinic. Sure, I was in my regular room, nowhere near my dad and stepmother’s place and that was a relief but…

I must have laid in bed for 20 minutes just getting my bearings. I have told this story before and some people have said, “That’s so cool!” No, questioning your grasp of reality is not cool. It is disquieting and eerie. My memory of this “dream” is no different than any other event that happened in my life. It was the first of many experiences like this. Having these extra, surreal experiences has on occasion given me lots to think about. I’ll post more about some of them later.