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Anxiety Dreams

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:57 pm

High School ended half of my life ago. Then and now, I was a good test taker and fair student over all. I have never been anxious about passing a test or course. I have never pulled an "all-nighter" to try to get prepared for an exam. I overslept for an exam once because I stayed up to late the night before playing Euchre. I arrived 40 minutes after the test began and politely asked to be allowed to take the exam. I got straight to work on the essays and 40 minutes later found myself to be the first person done. It was for a 300 level English History Class and I got an A on the exam.

So why is it that I am now having anxiety dreams about High School Triganomotry? I never took Trig, let alone with "Mrs. M." my high school math teacher. Yet in the dream I find myself one week before graduation remembering that I was suppose to be in that course all year but instead of attending the course I spent the time... somewhere, nowhere, in a kind of limbo of my own choosing. In the dream I am faced with the final, not knowing if even if I could cram a year's worth of math into a few days if it would matter. Will she pass me even if I ace the final?

You do not need an advanced degree to understand this dream, it is my subconscious screaming out its own anxiety about the societal changes before us. Even in the best case scenario the challenges will be great, there will be no grading on a curve or opportunity for make-up work. It will come down to a combination of luck, preparation and mental acuity. It has been a few generations since we in the United States have had to play this game. Intellectually I feel prepared for it. Emotionally, I am the teenager in my dream.

So I take a deep breath and I cope. I repeat the trite phrases handed down across the generations for times such as these, the words that do not really address how we are feeling but enable us to get up another day. "This too shall pass." "Drive-on, it don't mean nothin'." "Tomorrow is another day." The time for therapy and self-actualization has passed. The time to be who we need to be, who our children need us to be, who are neighbors need us to be, who we need ourselves to be, has arrived.

It no longer matters that I have a dislike for math and have organized my education, in part, to avoid it. There is a trig test to face and "Mrs. M" was a woman whose sole concern was if you had mastered the material, there would be no curve or social advancement. There will be no special pleading. She is, in my subconscious vocabulary, the perfect face of Darwinian selection. There is a test to take and there is no escaping it; only a choice of how I will face it.

I will face it like the man my forbearers hoped I would be. I am anxious because I should be. I am hopeful because I must be. I am confident because I have the mental acuity and preparation to be. All I need now is a little luck.

http://www.senecasdog.blogspot.com

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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Re: Anxiety Dreams

Permanent Linkby smallpoxgirl on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:35 pm

I fairly often get people asking me what they can do to prepare for medical school. My answer is usually "nothing". It sucks and there's not much you can do except close your eyes and jump. I suspect that's true of most difficult endeavors. As a pre-med I had no flipping idea what I was getting myself into. You just jump in and either you find you can swim or you don't. Worrying about it before hand just means that you miss out on that part of your life fretting about the next part. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I don't feel much anxiety about the coming changes. I'm just trying to enjoy today for what it is. I'll worry about tomorrow when it comes.

I suppose to some extent that's an oversimplification. Goofing off in organic chemistry, obviously is going to mean much more difficulty in med school. I suppose my point is that you do the common sense preparations and then don't fret. I think you just have to have a faith that if you do your part and make reasonable precautions, then things will turn out how they're supposed to. I don't know that I believe in a specific god, but I think there is a story to the universe. My job is to do my part and make a good faith effort. It's not really to try to force any specific outcome. Nature is too powerful and fate can obliterate all your preparations in an instant. On some level, what will be will be. My $0.02 anyway.
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Re: Anxiety Dreams

Permanent Linkby General Doom on Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:27 pm

Good blog post, wisconsin_cur.

I have pretty severe anxiety in general (it sucks). Lately I've been experimenting with 5HTP to mitigate it. I think it has been affecting my sleep patterns and dreams. Without any chemical intervention, I don't usually remember my dreams at all. Since starting the regular 5HTP I've had more vivid dreams which I remember.

Day before yesterday I had a horrible nightmare. My bedroom window goes from floor to ceiling, and looks out on the goat and chicken pens. I dreamed that I woke near dawn and heard a noise outside, so I went to the window to check it out. There was a huge black bear running past about 4 feet away on its hind legs, with its face and paws covered in gore. The goats were all ripped apart, like something out of a horror film. Some were missing their heads. It was clear they were all dying, yet they were all running toward their shed. I knew the bear was going to break through one of our many large windows and attack us. I started screaming for my husband to get one of the guns, but I didn't think we had time to prevent the bear from getting one of us before we could kill it. It was a horrible panic feeling.

Then my son came in and woke me up asking for breakfast.

I've faced life threatening challenges a few times, but it's been a long time, and I wasn't a mother back then. Nevertheless I'm confident in my ability to react well to whatever comes in the future. I like the way both of you described things. It's a combination of actively engaging with and surrendering to reality.
"Every junkie's like a setting sun..." - Neil Young
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Re: Anxiety Dreams

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:30 am

I, generally, have the same attitude as SPG both in regards to academics and life in general. Work hard, study, take the test and let the chips fall where they may. I would guess this new twist (the anxiety dream) is mostly a function of a sense of responsibility for my family and a sense of lack of control (a job loss would really hurt, severe deflation could be a slow killer). When I take a test, I am in control of my preparation and I alone am responsible for the results. Preparing for prolonged economic contraction or social upheaval is another deal altogether. I do not "know" if I have prepared correctly or not and I will not be alone in suffering the consequences; I have three children who are depending on me.

In my case recognizing the angst relieves it, not completely, but in part. I also try to remember that the future is open and while the trends cannot be bucked, we do not know how they will impact us personally. I doubt our worse conceptions of the future will come to pass. In other words, I am more likely to face my end from a broken leg or an infection than a gang of mutant bikers and this is stragely relieving. I can plan for injury better than for roving hoards.
http://www.senecasdog.blogspot.com

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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