Do you remember the above scene from that famous movie, over 70 years ago? I was nine years old when I was in my elementary school’s production of “The Wizard of Oz”. I was in the chorus, and each time a musical number was performed, I was there with the rest of my choir mates providing additional vocals to make the music resonate throughout our auditorium. During scene changes, we were what held the audience’s attention. It was such a great feeling. Ever since then, “The Wizard of Oz” has held a special place in my heart. Not just due to the nostalgic memories of my school’s production, but also due to the meaning behind the movie. A movie about the happiness of just being home with family and friends, and most of all, the love that exists between them.
I remember watching that film often as a child, but I don’t recall my reaction to the first time I saw its ending. The fact that the entire movie takes place in a dream is something that has a great power to it. I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. Maybe my attraction is a result of their unknown origins (scientists still don’t know why we dream). Or, maybe it’s due to the fact that they exist in our minds in such a real state, until we wake up and realize otherwise. Whatever the reason, I just know that the subject of dreams has gripped my attention for as long as I can remember.
Since my diagnosis in 2009, I’ve often wondered if maybe this is all a dream. I’m pretty sure I’ve let go of all denial that I had in the beginning, and that this is just a thought that doesn’t want to leave my mind. But, then again, if I’m in denial I guess I wouldn’t really know that for certain, right? But, I think that after my psychiatrist gave me my final confirmation of my diagnosis, that I finally lost all denial. But, it appears that as much as I’d like to think otherwise, that confirmation hasn’t stopped me from wondering if this is all a dream from which I will someday wake up.
The thought has gone through my mind that maybe ten years ago I got into a car accident and I’ve been in a coma ever since. That all of this that has happened has just been a figment of an overactive imagination lost in a state of deep sleep. What if I’m in a hospital somewhere and I’ll wake up someday and realize that none of this has happened; that my life is just where it was ten years ago, before the accident? I don’t remember any accident. I don’t remember any traumatic experience, but I guess you don’t remember that kind of stuff in a coma. I’ve seen those stories before of someone who comes out of a coma after many years, and they don’t even realize time has passed. Could that be what’s going to happen to me?
I’m not saying that I really believe that, but I guess there is a part of me that must think it’s really possible, since that thought doesn’t seem to ever go away. Maybe that’s why my fascination with dreams has only increased since my diagnosis. Maybe it’s my comatose brain trying to tell me to wake up and see this all for what it really is… a bad dream. A nightmare.
Am I in the Twilight Zone?
One of my favorite television shows is the classic 1950s “The Twilight Zone”. My dad loves that show and I grew up watching it on TV whenever he would have those awesome reruns playing. Every year, I look forward to watching the marathons that the Syfy Channel has over the Fourth of July and New Year’s holidays.
Well, one of my favorite episodes is called “The Hitch-hiker.” The story centers on a young woman, named Nan Adams, making a cross-country trip to visit her mother. However, after a flat tire delays her journey, she begins to see a strange and ominous man watching her. Whenever she sees him, he has his thumb out in the universal hitchhiking pose. As she continues on her way to her destination, Nan is terrified of this small and shabbily suited man watching her at various points in her journey. Each time Nan passes him the man stands in his hitch-hiking pose, as if saying with just his body language, “Going my way?” Nan always continues on in fear.
Finally, after she can’t take it anymore, she makes a stop one night at an out-of-the-way phone booth (this large box in which you have to actually stay corded to a phone… trippy eh?). Well, she gets on the phone and calls her mother’s house, when this unknown older woman answers. Nan asks for her mother by name, Mrs. Adams. The older woman then states that Mrs. Adams is ill. Nan then gets worried and says that her mother was fine when last they spoke, and so she wants to speak to her. The older woman then tells Nan that Mrs. Adams suffered a nervous breakdown after the death of her daughter. Nan looks perplexed upon hearing this news. “Her daughter? What do you mean the death of her daughter?” she asks the woman. Then, the woman on the phone says, Mrs. Adams’ daughter was killed after losing control of her car from a blown out tire.
Nan walks away from the phone, both stunned and in disbelief. She has a look of vacancy in her face. Her voiceover can be heard narrating her thoughts as she slowly walks back to her car. She states that she has no more fear. She doesn’t really feel anything anymore. Nan then sits behind the steering wheel and adjusts her rearview mirror. The old and ominous man pops up in the reflection of the back seat. And, the episode ends with the man’s words, “I believe you’re going my way.”
That episode still gets me, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. It’s got a great ending, and it fits into my dream issue. Nan had no idea that she was dead. She was walking, talking, and feeling just like a living human being. She had no inclination that she was just denying death’s claim on her the whole time. So, what if that’s the case with me? What if it’s worse than just a coma-like nightmare, and I’m really dead, but just haven’t realized it yet?
But, if That’s the Case…
That makes me sad, more than scared. As I’ve said before, I’m not afraid of death itself, just the feeling of dying. But, this thought makes me sad because it means that everything that I have known to be true from the last ten years has never really happened. All of the relationships that I’ve formed these last years, and all of the positive events that I have experienced are just a figment of a brain that has blown its last fuse. That saddens me. I don’t want that to be true. I don’t want all that I’ve known these last years to be just a dream or something worse.
I guess that says something… something good. I think I’m in an ok place right now with my moods. I’m pretty stable right now. Not great, but not bad either. I know that I’ll teeter-totter back into one extreme or another again, but right now I’m ok. And, that’s all that I can really expect with this. I take it day-by-day, and some of those days are good, while others are not. These last years have sucked. Yeah, I know, I could probably find a better word to express myself, but guess what. I don’t care. It has sucked, and royally at that. But, as bad as it’s been, I think that it’s a good thing that I feel saddened when I think of possibly losing these last ten years. Through all of the bad, there have been really good times too. I’ve met new friends. New family members have been born and I can’t imagine my life without those little ones. I love them all… family, friends, all of them! Moments from the last ten years that I’ve shared with my loved ones have made an impact on me, and I don’t want to lose them.
So, maybe this has all been part of one long dream and I will wake up someday and realize that these last ten years never happened. Or, maybe I’ll see a shabbily suited man sitting in my back seat, informing me that I have indeed been going his way.
If those are my choices, then I’d rather be dead. I’m not trying to be morbid, but I have my reasons. If I am in a dream, then that means I’ll wake up and lose all that I’ve known these past ten years. That would hurt in such an unbelievable way. Whereas if I’m deceased, then although this has been me just walking through the motions of denial of that death, it would mean that I would wake up in a better place. No pain will exist, because no pain can exist in this place. And, I will be able to appreciate the good times that I thought I was having, since where I’m headed next is even better. Those good experiences (make-believe or not) gave me pleasure and enjoyment, and filled my life with love and happiness. And, what about the struggles and pain that have resulted from the bipolar, anxiety, and OCD? Well, when I walk through those gates into Heaven someday, I know that all of that will be gone. Mental illness does not exist in Heaven. But, all of the joys and peace do. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. I must keep reminding myself of that.
Heaven is the ultimate dream, and it’s one from which we can rest assured that we’ll never wake up.
Here’s Another Wrinkle for Your Brain
I’ll end this post with a fun fact (possibly). Have you ever wondered what dogs dream? As a child, I wondered this all of the time. Ok, I still do. Well, one day as a kid I read somewhere that if you want to discover what your dog dreams, then you only need a doggie pillow, and a bag of potato chips. You place a single potato chip under the doggie pillow where your dog sleeps at night. Then, the next night you put that same potato chip under your own pillow. You will then dream the exact dream that your dog dreamt the night before. I always wanted to try that with my dog as a kid. I thought it would be so awesome to discover what went on in his head. My mom said it wouldn’t work, though. I asked her why. She said, “He’s just going to eat the potato chip.”
How many potato chips does it take to get to the center of a dog’s brain?
“The world may never know.”