Since the worldwide coronavirus lockdown started, many of us have been having vivid dreams. Google searches for “weird dreams” have doubled since this time last year, and there is a spate of articles on the topic, that seem to be asking: “You too, huh?”
I asked the psychotherapist Philippa Perry to explain this phenomenon. “Normally our dreams are processing ancient memories, or things that have just happened,” she says. “We have so much more to process right now in terms of experience and feelings.” Most people who claim they usually don’t dream do – they just can’t remember them. So pandemic dreaming could be as simple as people remembering dreams more often, due to being in a new situation.
Related: ‘Last night I was James Bond’: the vivid world of lockdown dreams
Is there any point in analysing your pandemic dreams? Perry says it is useful to be curious, particularly if they are bothering you. “The Gestalt method [suggests] every aspect in your dream represents a part of you because you dreamt them,” says Perry. So you could analyse your pandemic dreams from the perspective of the other objects and characters in your dream: the person chasing you perhaps, or from the perspective of your tooth that keeps falling out.
Perry adds that in sleep, we often dwell on unfinished business: “I tend to think all dreams are on our side, even the nightmares, because they are trying to tell us something we can get done.”
So what do these weird dreams of yours look like? We asked a few of you to be brave enough to share them. You can add yours in the thread below.
Kyle Bate, Philadelphia
I was in this unfamiliar kitchen with Charlie, one of my roommates, and our dearest friend Vince.
I had created this song in this unfamiliar kitchen, only the music was stored in jugs of water. The jugs were arranged similarly to how a digital audio workstation looks: you have a timeline and as you are creating or recording, you can arrange different blocks of ideas into different channels of the timeline.
My roommate changed the arrangement of some of those jugs of water and I was so angry at him because my song had been ruined. After bickering with him, I asked Vince to help restore the song, so he did so by dumping water in between the different jugs, trying to bring my idea back to the way it was supposed to be.
Summer Sewell, New York
I am walking barefoot down a steep dirt road. I’m in Australia. People are around me but I don’t know who they are. The dirt is a burnt orange color. I look at the bottoms of my feet and see they’ve turned that color. This makes me happy. Somehow I know that the more orange your feet are, the better chances you have – for what I don’t know. We arrive at a beach.
I look to the left and see families with picnics and beach umbrellas and bright swimsuits. As soon as I turn right, a huge wave lifts me up. I look down and can see the ocean floor with big starfish and colorful rocks, but they are cartoonish, like the ones in SpongeBob SquarePants.
A bunch of beach chairs cartwheel over me; they hit me on the head. I’m not scared or bothered by any of this. The wave sets me back down, and it’s as if no one else on the beach even saw it. The people I was walking with are having a picnic. I join them. I look out at the lifeguard on his tower in the middle of the ocean. He is dressed as a carnival barker.
Mila, 13, Canada
We were notified that there was a tsunami coming, but we weren’t really sure. Then we saw the horror scene of the water drawing back, and that’s when we ran.
At first, the water was really dark and the sky was gloomy. We were running away from the water to try and get off the ground. One person got caught up and was washed away.
I was trying to climb up this sand hill and there were these dead trees I was trying to grab to hoist myself up. I made progress until two-thirds of the way, and then it became really step and I couldn’t get the rest of the way up, as the sand was just falling out beneath my feet.
This blonde guy got up and reached his arm out to me. Before I took his hand, I looked down and I could see the water rushing between this sand hill and another mountain. It was really blue-green, tropical, a postcard kind of blue.
Anna Swartz, Massachusetts
I was on my way to work and I had stopped at something like a Dunkin’ Donuts, only I had invented it in my mind; one of those places that only exists in a dream but feels very real.
I was up at the counter and was ordering 30 egg sandwiches – round little circles of egg on English muffins. I was going to bring them into work to surprise all my co-workers (I don’t even have 30 people on my team at work, but in my dream it was the right number).
I was up at the counter making my order when I suddenly remembered there was a global pandemic and that I shouldn’t even be going to work! I left the sandwiches at the counter and rushed back home.