I have an active and highly vivid imagination by nature, but for the last few months it has gone to extremes. Hyper-real nightmares that are hard to wake from, vivid colours and extremely detailed ‘plots’ that play out in my head as if scripted from start to finish, and I have no idea where they come from. I play them over in my head and try to remember what might have sparked them (aka dream-plagiarism) but find nothing. I have read that we only dream about faces we have seen before and the faces are often familiar- but about eighty percent of the dream-plots themselves are like nothing I can recall watching, reading or hearing about at any time. There are of course influences around us from religion, media etc- imagery the brain borrows to create the framework of a nightmare. But the dream-script itself seems to have jumped straight out of nowhere but the bubbling core of my brain.

Soon I’ll post the dream I had- I wrote it down the day after I had it and I still cannot believe the detail and clear emotional recall I had of it for weeks after. Even now I shiver at the thought of it. This one wasn’t apocalyptic so much as related to deep-seated issues. I slip into it again in waking life and feel sick at the thought of it being a reality. My daydreams are vivid too, highly involving and self-indulgent. But when something like this comes along I don’t want to stay in it. But anyone with serious day-dream issues can tell you that no matter how bad the dream is, it’s hard to get out once it’s holding you. There’s nothing graphic in it. It’s just a little soul-crushing.

I can name the source of the hyper-vividness: Citalopram, the wonder drug that has calmed my ridiculous anxiety levels down to a wonderfully controllable state where I can actually live instead of being constantly afraid while feeling utterly worthless. Horrific paranoia has been forged over years of family dispute. Wont go in to it. But don’t judge until you’ve been there. Suffice to say that even writing has been easier with these tablets since my mind isn’t clouded by rabidly fearful thoughts. They’ve made everything easier but sleep. Still, imagination is a would-be writer’s best friend so why reject the scratch of madness that replaces the old constancy of self-doubt?

For the first time in years I have a kind of mental clarity which allows me to focus more easily on the tasks I want to work on: Projects put to the side for years because I didn’t have the attention span or the confidence to keep at them. A new project which I am keeping hush-hush is hacking into the personal confines of my heart and brain, making me face who I am and want to be as an adult.

There is no shame in admitting that you need help controlling the mental fog and the deafening white noise of self-hating thoughts that depression creates. I put off using these tablets for months after receiving the prescription from my doctor. I wanted to prove I could do without them. I tried magnesium tablets to improve my nervous system, took omega 3 which is supposed to help your mind as well as your heart. I tried counselling which, while it did help clarify exactly what was happening in my mind when a panic attack hit, did nothing to make them stop. Eating healthy foods, exercising, avoiding caffeine, all kinds of self-help ideas I tried but never panned out.

In the end, it was only the tablets that made me see clearly for the first time in over a decade. And I will get off them some day. I wont use them as a crutch my entire life. But I’ve taken the glimmer of hope they gave and want to use them to push myself out of my cramped shell and out into the world beyond even the most vivid of my dreams.

Image Credit: Zdzisław Beksiński, Untitled Work.