I stepped outside the cold air was a gentle slap on my face that brought my mind out of a disturbing spiral that it has been in since I woke in a bit of a panic. Two seconds later my alarm went off scaring me further. “I see dead people”. I can still feel the chill that ran down my spine when the boy whispered that line in The Sixth Sense. It came to mind as I got out of bed thinking, “I’m seeing dead people. Why am I seeing dead people in my dreams.” The dream itself was innocuous, appearing to make sense until I looked at the people on the platform and thought “Brook can’t be up there, he’s dead”. I looked down at myself and thought “I must be dreaming” and then I was suddenly awake.
Dream interpretation says that when you dream about people as being alive who are dead in reality it means that your connection to those people is still very strong. Ok, I buy that. And it is the Day of the Dead so perhaps it makes sense that I had these dreams but my dream self thinks that my conscience self may be getting strange.
I wonder, sometimes, if a person can tell that they are developing a mental disorder. Or does the fact that you are wondering about it means that you aren’t? Having unknowingly grown up with a parent who had bi-polar disorder, which was untreated, I have a tendency to closely scrutinize mood swings or seemingly odd flights of fantasy. When my sister and I discovered this we were at first stunned but it certainly made sense of a lot of things. At that time, I was beginning to rebel against the controls that my husband wanted to keep around me and assert my true personality. His suggestion that perhaps I was suddenly being so unreasonable was that I had a mental disorder both infuriated and scared me. What if he was right? Maybe it all was in my mind.
For once, I didn’t take someone else’s opinion but went to a professional for assessment, and counseling. It was an enormous relief to find that while I was suffering from anxiety (no surprise there) I did not exhibit any of the indicators of bi-polar disorder or even depression. I was, in fact, quite resilient in the face of difficulties and surprisingly (according to my councilor) cheerful. It didn’t take away the problems we faced in trying to deal with my dad or within my marriage but it did let me tackle things and find solutions, one at a time.
The person in my dream that so disturbed me was my former brother-in-law who committed suicide 5 years ago. He and I were always good friends. He was 5 years younger and would call and ask me for advice about various things. We formed a bond the first Christmas that I spent with his family before we were married, when I was relegated to the back of the tree because I didn’t hang icicles evenly enough. Seriously? Here’s your icicles. I’m out of there. I went upstairs to the kitchen and Brook was sitting at the table drinking a beer.
He looked from his book and asked “sent to the back of the tree?”
I said “Yes!”
He said “Join the club” pushed the plate of cookies over, got me a beer and we talked about a lot of things.
That pattern continue over the years. I spoke to him a few times after we were divorced but my ex-husband didn’t want me keeping in contact with his family and his mother was in agreement. To keep peace I acquiesced as long as he was keeping the boys in contact with his family. When I finally heard about what had happened during the years prior to Brook’s suicide I wondered if it would have made a difference if I had kept in touch with him. On the one hand, I couldn’t believe that my ex’s family denied what was right in front of them for years; but on the other hand it was entirely consistent that they did. They had never understood him and never learned. I had, but never considered that he would go down that path. I should have known that I was getting a vary filtered account of things from when the boys visited him and from my ex-husband.
I still wonder.