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Recurring dreams

(59 Posts)
BlueSky Fri 14-Jun-19 09:26:53

I've had the same disturbing dream since I was a teenager! I find it so strange that this is still upsetting me after 50+ years and being completely removed from that time and place. I wake up with a feeling of dread even though I know it's only a dream. I've tried talking to my DH about it hoping that bringing it out in the open would help but no joy.

Pollyanna2 Fri 14-Jun-19 10:27:14

Could you share your dream with us?

EllanVannin Fri 14-Jun-19 11:54:52

Some dreams are foretelling, strangely enough. I hope this recurring dream of yours isn't as bad as expected and that you can eventually by-pass it should anything come of it.

BlueSky Fri 14-Jun-19 12:28:50

Let's just say that it was something that frightened me as a child, nothing sinister as most people would think nothing of it. Probably to do with my chronic anxiety...

notentirelyallhere Fri 14-Jun-19 13:40:22

I used to have recurring dreams in my 20s of being chased and unable to get away or of being in the house alone and someone breaking in. Dreams are generally understood as your brain attempting to resolve an emotional situation which your conscious mind cannot deal with.
Sometimes aspects in dreams are said to represent parts of your life as a metaphor. For example, a house might be a way of representing the self so those dreams of mine were, I now think, anxiety dreams about safety and security.
One of the best explanations I've read about dreams was in a book called Human Givens by Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffin. Its easy to find in libraries and on Amazon. In case you weren't aware, there are many theories on the meaning of dreams from the simplistic to the academic.

If you're worried about your dream, no qualified counsellor would be surprised by someone wanting the opportunity to talk about it.

BlueSky Fri 14-Jun-19 14:44:44

Thank you Notenterely very interesting post.

Fennel Fri 14-Jun-19 18:34:55

Notentirely - your post reminded me of a projective test which was popular during my working days as a psychologist. Which was to draw a picture of a house, a tree and a person. Then interpret using very wide rules.
I think the house represented family life.

midgey Fri 14-Jun-19 21:26:31

Fennel that reminds me of a college lecture about young children’s paintings.- A small boy painted a bright yellow ‘blob’ then painted it black....long lecture about the meaning of such significant colouring etc etc. The cynic at the back of the group asked the child what he had painted, a haystack in the day and now you can’t see it it’s nighttime came the reply! grin

Jomarie Fri 14-Jun-19 21:40:32

"out of the mouths of babes etc." midgey brilliant!!

notentirelyallhere Fri 14-Jun-19 22:51:05

Fennel the courses I took suggested that imagery was likely to be personal rather than objectively specific. I think that's the point you're making?

crazyH Fri 14-Jun-19 22:56:02

Midgey - I wonder what became of that clever little boy 😘

notentirelyallhere Sat 15-Jun-19 09:26:09

Chances are that boy was a pain in the neck to his teachers and ended up doing time!!

There was a French painter called Alphonse Allais who was well known for humorous paintings, for instance a black canvas entitled 'Negroes fighting in a tunnel at night' and similar. More here:

lovebooks Sat 15-Jun-19 10:01:46

For years and years, I had versions of the same dream in which I had cut someone's head off (the actual bloody deed was never featured) and was trying to hide the evidence. I was told it's a guilt dream, but very disturbing.

harrigran Sat 15-Jun-19 10:13:22

I have dreams that seem to highlight medical problems in myself and others, I kept dreaming I was being diagnosed with cancer, it stopped when I got the diagnosis in RL.
I started dreaming about DH but did not tell him about my dreams I just urged him to go to the GP and I was right to urge him.
I put the dreams down to having medical knowledge and picking up on warning signs but I think the family think I am a witch.
Strangely I sometimes dream about DD not being well so I get in touch and sure enough she will be at home in bed. Must say that I don't speak to her often enough to pick up signals in conversation hmm

ReadyMeals Sat 15-Jun-19 10:19:51

I have a dream sometimes that I am on death row in prison and due to be executed within days. My main worry is that everyone is going to hate me for whatever it was I did (in the dream I assume I killed someone) but in fact the prison officers are really supportive and kind to me, and that makes me feel a bit better. I usually wake up at that point so I don't go through the execution in my dream!

Witzend Sat 15-Jun-19 10:20:46

I still have exam nightmares (exams I've done zero preparation for!), ditto Christmas shopping, it's 4 pm on Chr. Eve and I've forgotten to buy anything.
Always such a relief to wake up from those!

OTOH I've dreamt often of a large family house I've never seen or visited - always the same one - yet in my dream it's always so familiar, I know every room.

Craftycat Sat 15-Jun-19 10:27:20

I had a very scary recurring dream when I was a teenager. I was in a house- which I knew ( although it looked like nowhere I did actually know). I was walking up the stairs to a room at the top & I knew there was something really awful behind the door but I HAD to open it. I always woke up as I opened the door so never saw what or who it was.
It stopped when I was 20 & got married & was not sleeping alone.
I still remember the fear I felt at the time.

ReadyMeals Sat 15-Jun-19 10:32:05

Crafycat, that was telepathy from your mother, who probably dreaded what state she'd find in your room when she opened the door. When you got married and left home, your mother's telepathy transmitted her relief at the room finally being tidy, and so the dreams stopped.

Purplepoppies Sat 15-Jun-19 10:35:22

I do have a recurring nightmare. It's based on a real event that was extremely scary at the time. I wake up shaking and have to get up and distract myself before I can sleep again without going back into it again.

Juliet27 Sat 15-Jun-19 10:36:56

Midgey. That reminded me that apparently at age three I drew a fish then turned the paper over to draw his other eye. Just the eye...nothing else.

Juliet27 Sat 15-Jun-19 10:39:52

Its the dream where you find yourself out in the street with no clothes on and nowhere to hide that I hate....used to have that often.
Then there's the one where I've not done enough revision for an exam.

Sheilasue Sat 15-Jun-19 10:58:09

Sometimes I get a recurring dream of my late son, we are either having a conversation, or his phoning me. But that’s to do with grief I think. It never leaves you no matter how long someone is dead.

BradfordLass72 Sat 15-Jun-19 10:59:38

The content of the dream usually doesn't matter it is how the dreamer feels which is upsetting.
My son dreamed of a fox running across the garden but he knew it was going to be killed (he did not see this happening) but it was that which scared him.

However, I offer here what may help you as it did with my elder son.

You can do this alone or with a partner (obviously my son and I did it together). You relax, start describing the dream and then at the crucial moment your partner (if you are working with one) says, 'OK, stop a moment' and gives you an alternative scenario or suggestion.

You talk about this in some detail, making sure you have grasped the fact that you are going to be in charge next time you dream.
I know it sounds odd and it may not work immediately but after several sessions it can give you the power to change how you feel in the dream.

In our case I then said, 'This is a clever little fox and he knows all the countryside so he is never going to get caught.'
We talked a lot about how foxes are smart, with a good sense of smell and see better in the dark than humans.

The next time we did the imagining (before he had the dream again), the people who were looking for the fox got lost. They were very stupid people, couldn't find their feet in a fog. grin so gave up and went home, having got very wet and cold.

Next time, we put the fox's favourite food out and had a party - later still we imagined he had found a lady fox and had cubs.
All this took several very talkative sessions of course.

But little by little I gave my son the ability to feel differently, more powerful in his dream which he had 2 or 3 times more but was no longer freaked out by it.

Clearly you and your DH will have to tailor your 'weapons' to your own story.

This was nearly 50 years ago but I think the technique may still work. smile

annodomini Sat 15-Jun-19 11:09:34

My recurrent dream is about exams, often about being late for an exam which never happened. I dream about writing exam answers, though not in troubling way. Exams are half a century (or more) behind me and I was never frightened of them, being something of a 'swot'. Nevertheless, they still crop up quite often. Maybe I still feel I am being tested and have something to prove?

Saggi Sat 15-Jun-19 11:19:20

I’m glad I don’t sleep deeply enough to dream anymore. I used to have a recurring nightmare where I’m walking over one of these precarious rope/ plank bridges over a raging river about 100ft in the air and one of my nephews ( the youngest) was always behind me and shouting at me to get of the bridge .... too late , the bridge breaks and I cling on but he goes over and drowns. I had this nightmare for five years nearly every week , as clear as day to me. The nephew later had to have a lung transplant because his body was rejecting his own lungs ( all the tests done with no conclusion as to why!).... he lived 6 years after his transplant and refused a second .... he died aged 30 , basically “ drowned by his own fluids” the doctor said. I haven’t slept deeply since that time and I don’t want to!

BlueSky Sat 15-Jun-19 11:31:17

Thanks all for your helpful input. OK here's my nightmare. Have you ever seen a Spanish religious procession? I have as when I was a child we used to go to Spain for holidays. They are impressive but I guess to a child also frightening. So I started to dream about this back then but oddly enough that still crops up now! I see the procession approaching and I try to hide but I'm usually found and brought back to the street to watch it. It's just annoying that a childhood experience should haunt me now to the extent that before booking holidays abroad I make sure there are no religious festivals going on!

HannahLoisLuke Sat 15-Jun-19 11:39:58

Readymeals, I too used to have an execution dream. In mine I was being walked towards a scaffold. I was held by two men and there were others around as well as a lot of onlookers. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong but nobody would listen to me.
Always woke up as I put my foot on the first step.
I had it regularly for a few years, then it stopped than goodness.

Silverlady79 Sat 15-Jun-19 12:05:45

My dreams have been bad recently, - being covered in fleas - lost and alone in a city, asking people to help - but my recurring one is a plane going over low and crashing just over the hedge. I hear it split open and am too scared to go and see what I will see..but they are all there - just over the hedge. I long for my bad dreams to end but am going through some counselling at the moment around childhood stuff and am coming to terms with that and processing it and I guess this is my brain trying to work things out. It's all very upsetting tbh.

BlueSky Sat 15-Jun-19 12:39:18

Thanks for sharing your nightmares they sound a lot worse than mine! That's why I find it weird that something like that would still disturb me!

justwokeup Sat 15-Jun-19 12:53:14

I have the usual dreams that probably indicate some worry in the subconscious. However from the age of about 3, I don't remember any earlier, I dreamt of a scene where I am being held as a baby by a well-dressed lady on some kind of throne in the sunshine while DM is running away (separation anxiety?). I had it on a regular basis until about 11 years old, when I think I just dismissed it from my mind. These days I'm mostly able to think 'this is just a dream' and 'switch it off'.

Direne3 Sat 15-Jun-19 13:02:05

Now that you're adult, maybe facing up to the problem and booking a holiday in Spain that includes a religious festival would be the solution.

BonnieBlooming Sat 15-Jun-19 13:08:47

I very frequently dream I am choking. I either wake up sitting bolt upright and coughing to try to dislodge the object or even with my fingers down my throat. I have been having this dream for years and its very frightening. I have never actually had a choking incident.
I also occasionally have a dream where I am going to do an exam and I have not done any revision! It's over 40 years since I did an exam.

BlueSky Sat 15-Jun-19 13:22:31

Direne yes I thought about that they do say you have to face your fears to overcome them! So far I haven't had the nerve to do it. Bonnie sure you are not suffering from some degree of sleep apnea? Are you aware of snoring loudly too?

GreenGran78 Sat 15-Jun-19 13:34:43

I have spells of dreaming about trying to find my way to somewhere. I roam around, up and down streets, through shopping centres, sometimes in empty rough areas.
It usually happens when I have something on my mind, especially if one of the family has a problem. I am probably searching for a solution.

willa45 Sat 15-Jun-19 13:57:59

For years I had a recurring dream where I stood before a white clapboard farmhouse with stairs going up the side of the house. Looking at it from the outside didn't affect me at all, but when I went inside I always had a feeling of dread. Next to the kitchen was a small room with a door that led to a corridor with many bathrooms. Bathroom after bathroom, all the fixtures were made of the same dreary cement.

In the dream I dreaded going on, so I would turn back and the dream would end with me closing the door that led to that part of the house. Not exactly a nightmare, but disturbing because I had that same dream quite often during a period of several years and then it stopped. That was about twenty five years ago.

ReadyMeals Sat 15-Jun-19 14:17:55

BonnieBlooming, could you have sleep apnoea?

Notthecatsmother Sat 15-Jun-19 14:27:44

I used to have a recurring dream which started shortly after I got married. I would be going to visit my mother in my childhood home, I would walk up the path and just before I got to the door it changed to a block of flats. About 15 years later she moved into a block of flats exactly like the one in my dream.

Welsh123 Sat 15-Jun-19 14:39:58

Used to have a recurring dream when I was in school of soldiers shooting at me and I was trying to get away and there was more and more of them. Exam stress. Stopped after me having the dream about 5 or 6 times.

Merryweather Sat 15-Jun-19 15:13:33

It’s not a dream as such but I'm asleep when the following happens, but I know when a relative has died during the night. Same during the day but it's just a flash in my head and an odd sensation at the same time.
Write hugh!!!

Esmerelda Sat 15-Jun-19 15:39:11

When I was a child and we lived in southeast London I had a recurring nightmare where I was on the platform at Sydenham Hill station with a very powerful wind blowing me towards the edge. However, that didn't matter because there was a train standing in the station which stopped me from falling off. But then the train pulled out and I found myself being blown closer and closer to the edge, at which point I realised that it wasn't just a normal drop to the rails, but a drop of about 100ft. When I was finally pushed off the platform and falling through the air I would wake up with a pounding heart and feeling terrified. I suppose it was an anxiety/insecurity dream. Anyway I finally told my Dad about it and his response was: "Well, that can't be true because the train wouldn't be able to leave the station ... if the rails really were 100ft below the level of the platform the train would need to have huge oval wheels which wouldn't be able to turn." I never had the dream again, whether because my fears had been allayed or because cold logic put paid to it I don't know!

rosecarmel Sat 15-Jun-19 16:02:59

Loss of gravity- My husband debunked it with science, much in the same way as BradfordLass, and I've yet to have the dream again- But it still creeps into my thoughts during the day on occasion- And when I engage it, I imagine ..

My husband truly was my hero, while he was alive and even after he died-

I've had countless weather related dreams, ever since I was a child, that are not the same except for the type of weather -- from natural disasters to beautiful breezes weaving through fields of grass and wild blooms- I am totally in the moment in each dream and sometimes become the weather itself-

notentirelyallhere Sat 15-Jun-19 16:44:25

Bluesky with my tin hat on (!) I think a dream such as yours is what would now be defined as trauma. Its got stuck in your brain memory banks rather than being processed.

There is a simple therapy called 'rewind' which many psychotherapists now offer which lightly hypnotises the person and aids them to move the memory on. It works very quickly in one or two treatments, it might be worth looking out for if you want to get rid of the dream. Here's a link to the professional body

CarlyD7 Sat 15-Jun-19 17:00:37

Recurring dreams are always trying to tell us something - they're usually symbolic, so it's useful to look at how the dream is being presented. For example, for at least 10 years, I had a recurring "packing" dream where I was packing to go on a trip and there was so much packing to do - and I kept finding more - that I got more and more panicky that time was running out and I'd end up missing the holiday! I discussed it with a counsellor who encouraged me to answer certain questions like: if you hadn't woken up then, what would have happened next? How did you feel when you woke up? Are there parallels between the dream and what's happened in your life? How were you in the dream (happy, scared, panicked, fearful?) and where are you like that in your real life? Do any of the people in the dream look familiar and what do they say? If you think about different people as different parts of yourself, how do they relate to each other - are they arguing, for example? What about the objects in the dream? (For example, if you're in a car - who is driving the car? And what does that say about your life - who is "in the driving seat"?) It's about really unpicking it symbollically. As for me, I had to let go of a lot of stuff (both physical, mental and emotional, plus people who I should have let go a long time ago) before the dream stopped and I was able to "travel lightly" (the trip being a metaphor for my life's journey). Hope this helps.

Sus4n Sat 15-Jun-19 18:15:31

Does anyone else have period dreams even though they’re years past menopause? As if the body cycles are continuing.

BlueSky Sat 15-Jun-19 19:14:35

Notentirely thanks didn't know of such a therapy. In my case I actually remember being scared but felt I couldn't say anything to my parents. Will have a look cheers.
Sus4n when I have dreamt of periods is with anxiety as it would be in real life should you suddenly have one after the menopause and relieved when waking up. I also have the usual anxiety dream where I lose my bag with all my precious belongings, or not finding my way and being late to catch a plane, or trying to alert my DH to some danger but can't get my phone to work. All fascinating stuff!

Grannyparkrun Sat 15-Jun-19 19:19:43

Readymeals & Hannahloisluke, I too have an execution nightmare. I am in a waiting room & I know I am going to be taken to be executed very soon. The nightmare part is that I desperately need to tell my husband something about our daughters but I can’t get a message to him. I wake up deeply sad and it stays with me for hours.
It’s quite a shocking subject to dream about but the mind is such a deep mysterious place.

Bossyrossy Sat 15-Jun-19 19:46:20

Juliet27 - I have exactly the same dreams as you; being naked in public and not having revised for exams. I think the exam dreams are a result of the pressure put on us by the education system, a type of post traumatic stress syndrome. But being naked in public? No idea where that comes from.

sharon103 Sat 15-Jun-19 22:37:37

I dream of my ex husband at least five nights a week. He left 32 years ago. Sometimes he's with the woman he left me for ( I knew her from school) sometimes he's with another woman I don't know and sometimes we're getting back together again. He always looks the age he was back then (33) not as he looks now. It's quite disturbing really after all these years.
Another dream I have sometimes and it's always the same. My daughter used to have rabbits when she lived at home and when she left she left the remaining two with me to look after. My dream is that we have one big rabbit loose in our shed at the bottom of the garden and I forget about it and it doesn't get fed for a week or more and the straw is full of rabbit droppings. I then think of the rabbit and panic that it's not been fed and is probably dead but it's still alive. I tell my daughter off and tell her to get some food and straw and clean the shed out.
I think I know the reason for the ex's dream but don't understand the rabbit one.

glammagran Sat 15-Jun-19 22:44:27

I had a complete phobia about pigeons as a very young child and had nightmares of them often - no idea why. I’ve handled and flown huge birds of prey as an adult but still intensely dislike pigeons.

Elvive Sat 15-Jun-19 23:22:16

One theory is that you are every thing in that dream, the wind, the animals, the person. Quite interesting.

I often dream of a large house and a hidden upper room. The seats have a sunflower print. Odd eh?

Grandmama Sat 15-Jun-19 23:55:15

I have two recurring dreams although they are not frequent. I know exactly the two anxieties that give rise to them.

MarieLL59 Sun 16-Jun-19 01:56:09

I dread bedtimes because my dreams are so awful and exhausting. I’m always trying to get somewhere or drive somewhere but it’s never a good feeling. And I’m usually much younger. Also I keep dreaming of my house which is full of rooms that I didn’t know existed. It was so real that one morning I got up and tried to look for them! Weird.

BradfordLass72 Sun 16-Jun-19 08:16:25

Does anyone remember the case of Jenny Cockell? The BBC did a documentary about her. She had recurring dreams, even as a young child, that she was an Irish mother with several children whom she had to leave as she was terminally ill.

The BBC took her to Ireland and met the (now aged) children who all confirmed the truth of the many details Cockell was able to give about their Mum, including that she was deeply upset to leave them when she was dying of (I think) TB.

I remember seeing the doco and started looking into dreams being linked to past lives. It seems to be quite a common phenomenon all over the world.

CarlyD7 Sun 16-Jun-19 09:00:55

Elvive - I used to have a similar dream. My counsellor thought it was that the hidden room represented a part of me that I was keeping hidden; that I may not even be consciously aware of! Love the idea of the sunflowers.

Bobdoesit Sun 16-Jun-19 09:29:38

A couple of years ago, I started having the same dream night after night. In the dream, I was back living at home with my parents (they both died more than thirty years ago). I would arrive home at night park my car in the old cow shed and walk/run down the lane past the Dutch barn to the farm cottage where we lived. My mum and dad would be in bed, so I had to unlock the back door and walk through the house in the dark which I hated, go up the stairs still with no light and only when I was in my bedroom with the door closed could I turn it on.

The dream exactly mirrored what I had to do back then, but I couldn’t work out why I was dreaming about it all these years later. I told my husband about it and said I would like to go back to see the house one last time. It’s a long way from where we live now, but we thought we would make a day of it by having lunch in the local pub then walk around the village and eventually to the farm. Everything looked the same as it always had the old cowshed and Dutch barn are still there, but my childhood home is no more. The hedge, gate and path are just as they were, but the house is completely gone, not a brick or anything to show it was ever there. It was such a huge shock, and I’m still not really over it, but the dream has not recurred. I don’t know what it was all about but can only think my parents wanted me to know.

Sus4n Sun 16-Jun-19 23:29:37

Another recurring dream I used to have which I attribute to stress was that relatives were outside in the garden at night trying to come in. The door was locked, I’d forgotten they were coming and I’d not prepared the spare bed. I always woke up in a panic.

Grandma2213 Mon 17-Jun-19 01:10:34

I have always been a 'dreamer' and find dreams fascinating. Many of them make sense when I think of what has been going on in my life or what I have read, or watched on TV. Lately, lots about DGC getting into trouble or having accidents because they won't listen to me (they don't in real life!!) I become quite distraught. However I do regularly have the dreams about houses/homes where there are rooms, or a garden, I have forgotten about. I would recognise them instantly if I actually saw them.

There are also those where I am walking a foot or so above the ground and I tell myself it must be a dream. I can also swim without effort in dreams though I am not a strong swimmer.

Does anyone else have the one where they are driving a car down steps or on an impossible road/lane where they pick it up and carry it? There is also another one where I am driving a huge lorry or double decker bus from the top floor and trying to park it!!

I won't comment on the 'packing' dreams when I can't find what I need or am stopped at every turn as time is running out before I have to be ready. I think that is fairly obvious!

Dinah1 Tue 18-Jun-19 12:08:39

I wake every morning at about 5 at what I can only call panic stations. This happens every day, I wake in a state of fear and dread, even when I don't need to do anything in particular, and with my stomach churning. Only occasionally do I recall dreaming. I have been told that this is due to a lack of self-confidence but my younger daughter tells me to think of all I have achieved since being widowed nearly five years ago. I did think about going for hypnosis to see if that works. Does anyone have any thoughts as to how to deal with panic attacks?

grandtanteJE65 Thu 20-Jun-19 16:24:21

I used to have a series of dreams where some everyday activity, like walking up a street became impossible - the street got steeper and steeper until it was a sheer wall.

They stopped when I worked out that even as an adult I felt my parents were influencing me to do things I at heart didn't want to.

Perhaps you need to think carefully about the thing that scared you as a child and try to see it from an adult point of view where I hope it won't be so scary.