I dreamt that I was standing in a crowd, inches from a mirror like lake with candles as the only form of light, their glow rippling across the water. The crowd and I were mesmerized by the dance in front of us – a mermaid, dancing and twirling, moving above and below the water seamlessly. Around her were several alligators, still like statues, part of her show, as she danced and twirled amongst them, seemingly unafraid of their inherent nature. We all watched as if time was still, the twirling, the dancing, the shimmer of her fins, the solidness of the dangerous creatures around her. Then it all changed – the candlelight seemed to narrow and focus just on the mermaid as the first alligator’s jaw opened, snapping at the mermaid’s waist. It was if my eyes narrowed too, drawn to the blood, the gore, the innards that seemed to drip from her side as the alligator ripped away. And before a scream of realization could come from the crowd, another alligator lunged forward at the mermaid, taking her cheek in his sharp toothed grip. More blood, more gore, and a sound of death escaped the mermaid’s lips. At this point it became a feeding frenzy, the dancing and twirling was done by the alligators now as they spun around the mermaid’s body, fighting for a bite of her shimmering, now bloody, skin.
I awoke and stared at the ceiling of our RV, a little dazed by the gruesomeness of the dream. I normally have weird and vivid dreams, but they are rarely this horrific. I reach into my nightstand drawer for my dream book – I’ve had this book since high school – and flipped to read about the meaning of mermaids and alligators in a dream. Once interpreted, I turned to Greg and told him about my dream and the ominous meaning it could have. He just grunted and shook his head – he thinks my dreams are crazy – and went on with the morning task of getting our RV prepared for the journey of the day. I was in good spirits, stretching and getting out of bed, enjoying the sound of our kids already outside and the fact that we were going to be heading to a lake in southeast Maine. I remember feeling happy, singing a random song as I washed my face and readied myself for the day. Today was going to be a great day, even if I did have a morbid mermaid dream. My brain was doing its own twirling dance of happiness.
And then the storm hit – my brain flipped and that swift moving black cloud began to form over my brain. I suddenly couldn’t handle the smallest of pains – the kids screaming and whining, Greg messing up my biscuit order, or the horribly paved road that seemed to bounce my brain against my skull. When we stopped for gas, and to grab a quick bite, I felt the pulsing thunder of the black cloud, swirling around my brain, silencing my sanity. As I tried to order everyone’s sandwiches I felt as if I was falling into a dark abyss with thundering voices screaming at me – the lady in line asking me trivial questions, William spinning on a chair and ignoring my questions, and Greg mumbling his order to me – it all just vibrated in my brain. My ears pulsed, voices became low and incomprehensible – and I darted. I didn’t order food, or answer anyone’s questions, I just walked away, back to the RV where I stood fuming, boiling with anxiety, and waiting for Greg to catch up.
He seemed confused and agitated by my sudden escape, and I lashed out, letting some of the darkness in my brain slash at him – why was he mumbling, why couldn’t he see I needed help – which are all ridiculous since he isn’t in my brain, he can’t see the black cloud forming, or hear the thunder and pulse in my ears. He probably wasn’t even mumbling, but the throbbing darkness muffled his voice. At that moment, it was as if my whole family knew to back off. The RV became silent, everyone avoided talking to me, as I sat silently trying to fight the demon in my head. Silence and the beautiful scenery seemed to calm me, which this road trip often does for my anxiety. As I waited for the cloud to ease off my brain and the thunder to silence, I thought about my dream. Was it a premonition of what was about to happen? Could my brain foretell when I was going to have an episode?
Maybe I was the mermaid in my dream, happy and dancing, but always living dangerously close to a manic episode. The alligators were my anxiety, my bipolar disorder, lurking on the edge, waiting to latch onto my beautiful moments. I’m not sure if I believe in dream telling – even though I’ve been attempting to interpret my dreams since high school – but today made me realize that I need to pay more attention to my body and my mind. My brain could have subconsciously been showing me through a dream that I was on the edge of another attack, that I needed to take the day on with ease and remain more aware of myself. Whether this is true or not, doesn’t matter, because it made me realize something. There are so many medications and therapies out there for those of us that suffer from a mental illness, which I have nothing against and find very helpful in my journey to mental health, but sometimes we just need to listen to our bodies, our minds and make a better effort to stay away from the alligators in all of our minds!
I am a mother and stepmother, fierce slayer of mental illness, writer and traveler. I love the constant change of the road, and the experiences it brings our family. We have learned so much being full-time RVers, and love the freedom this lifestyle gives us.