Am I Really Awake? How Do I Know?

The last several nights, I’ve been having these strange dreams. The first one started simply enough. I was lying in bed, asleep, or so I thought, and I started to hear this sound, like a marching band playing, outside the window. When I was a kid, we lived near a junior high school and as an adult, I lived near a high school, and in the mornings of marching band season, if you lay quietly in bed, you could hear the band practicing. The other morning, I didn’t think much about hearing the band at first, because of this, until I remember, I don’t live near a school any more, and there was no marching band in the swimming pool in the back yard (at least, I hope there isn’t).

That’s when I woke up. Or so I thought. The band stopped playing, and I looked around the room, dazed, because in my dream I just thought I’d awoken from, I had been lying in the same bed, wearing the same clothes, sleeping on the same sheets, head on the same pillow, everything identical to where I was right in that moment. The only difference was, in the dream, there was the sound of the marching band, then I realized I was dreaming, and I woke up, but nothing had changed–everything was the same as the dream, except the music had stopped.

But then… the music started playing again. I jerked awake.

Or did I?

This went on like this for what the clock–if that part can even be believed–for about four hours. Four hours of waking up with a jerk, marching band music, thinking I was asleep, but not being asleep, thinking I was awake but realizing I was dreaming, only to wake up again, and realizing that that dream was a dream… and I got scared, freaked out completely, every time the damned marching band music would start, and I would get these goosebump chills running up and down my legs and spine, and I was terrified–more scared than any nightmare I’ve ever had, but in a very different, very real sort of way. With a nightmare, at least I KNEW it was a nightmare, I KNEW it wasn’t real, even if it was terrifying. With this, I was left with this very weird sensation that I didn’t have any way to know what was real and what was not real.

So much so that when I finally woke other people up so I wouldn’t be alone, I caught myself wondering if I could even trust that I was truly awake. I finally was able to shake the feeling, because once I had gotten up and moved around some, I realized I had moved out of the ‘danger zone’ of being in bed and waking up from a dream or falling asleep into one, and that once I was out of that zone, the awake/sleep cycle stopped and I was fine for the rest of the day–but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling.

So when I went to bed the next night, I was a little fearful to go to sleep. I managed to get to sleep, but it took me a couple of hours of deep breathing and relaxation to finally doze off. Once I did, I jerked awake several times, for fear I was ‘falling asleep’. Silly, I know; I mean, I wanted to fall asleep but I was afraid to fall asleep… crazy brain. Then I finally fell asleep. I seemed to sleep pretty well for several hours, best I can tell, but then I woke and had to go pee (at least, I think I did). My oxygen wouldn’t reach to the bathroom. I remember that. So I actually, instead of calling someone or going to move the concentrator closer to the door, I simply took off the cannula and hung it on the closet doorknob and went to the bathroom without oxygen. That’s not a good idea, btw, but I won’t get into why in this blog.

I could FEEL my heartbeat just pounding in my chest and I was low on sats, but it wasn’t too bad. I only mention it because it was real, physical symptoms that I can recall that make me believe I was probably really awake for this and really did get up–but the fact I would go without my oxygen seems quite out of the ordinary for me. I also remember I didn’t have to pee a lot, and yet… in the bed, I had felt like I was just going to burst if I didn’t go pee right then. So that seemed weird to me too. I can’t honestly say if I really did get up and go pee or not–what I do know is, when I finally do know I woke up this morning, the oxygen concentrator was NOT close to the door and I could NOT make it to the bathroom with it, so it’s likely that was real that I did get up in the night to pee–but it seems strange no one else in the house seems to have heard or remembered me getting up.

I came back to bed, lay down and glanced at the clock. It was 5 in the morning, or a little after. For the next four hours, I lay in bed, and the wake/asleep cycle started again. I tossed and turned, woke up and turned the fan on, woke up and turned the fan off, woke up and turned the fan to oscillate. I realized later, I think I was doing something with the fan as a means of trying to force my brain to connect with the ‘real world’ from a sleeping/dreamy state, like I had to DO something to make myself know I was really awake. Around 9 in the morning, the phone rang, it was a call I had to take, and I detest talking on the phone–I hate it more than you can possibly know, these days–so that definitely woke me up. A few more phone calls to deal with a situation later, and I was up for the day.

A few hours later, though, I was sitting at my computer, and this weird, disorientation came over me, and I felt… dizzy. I felt odd. I can’t explain the feeling, but it wasn’t normal. I also couldn’t keep my eyes open, couldn’t hold my head up. It was like I was drifting into this half dream state while sitting up at the computer in the living room. I finally told Lynn I had to go lay down. So I did. We were at the house alone together, just me and Lynn and the furry creatures.

Here’s where things get weird… I went into the bedroom. I crawled into bed and turned on the fan. I was already in a groggy half-alseep state. I grabbed a pillow and put it behind me and called Jake the Dog to come in and take a nap with me. He loves pillows. So he hopped on the bed and crawled up and laid on the pillow and I yelled to Lynn in the other room, “Look, Jakey dog came to sleep with me…” that’s the last thing I remember. I fell asleep probably nearly instantly after that.

I woke later. Or so I thought.

I remember the dog was no longer in bed with me. I picked up the pillow he had been sleeping on, folded it in half, and moved over in the bed to lay on that pillow, laying sideways in the bed instead of like normal, with my feet hanging off the edge of the bed. I know I did this, because when I really did ‘wake up’ for certain, my leg had the crease from the side of the bed on it, and the dog was licking my foot that was hanging off the bed. Pretty sure that really happened. But in the middle of that, I thought Lynn had come into he bedroom, and had spoken to me. I remember speaking to her. I had a short conversation, we talked about Jake and how he had left the bedroom, and I asked her a question. I can remember the entire conversation. Then I dozed back off, and she went back into the other room.

Then I woke again and got up to go the bathroom. I came into the living room, because the oxygen wouldn’t reach into the bathroom. I moved the concentrator closer to the bathroom. I talked to Lynn when I did this. I went to the bathroom and went back to bed. It was similar to what had happened earlier in the morning, but I was wearing different clothes and it was a different time of day. In the morning, also, the bird was in the bedroom in his cage by the bed, and in the afternoon, I had to reach around the bird cage in the living room to move the concentrator, so I know it was two different events.

Regardless of all that, Lynn says I never spoke to her. She says she was never in the bedroom. That I never asked her a question. She never talked to me about the dog, except when I called her to tell her the dog had come in to take a nap with me. She confirms that happened, but not the second conversation about me taking his pillow. She also confirms I did get up and go to the bathroom, but I apparently didn’t get up and come into the living room or move the concentrator to the door. I just got up, went to the bathroom, and came back to bed, without saying anything at all.

Also, I only slept for about three hours. Yet when I woke up, it felt like I had been asleep all day long. It seemed like quite a long time, and it felt ‘late’ when it was really not that late. I woke up starving too, like I had not eaten all day, and I had actually eaten immediately before I had gone to bed.

So basically, my gist here is that it felt like I was asleep/awake-asleep for a lot longer than I really was. I feel like I ‘lived’ more during that sleep than what I really lived, like I actually experienced conversations and actions that didn’t happen–but they did. I would swear to you in my life that they happened, to the point I assure you I could pass any lie detector test who would tell you I wholly believe these things happened.

But there’s no way they did happen. My family isn’t gaslighting me here. I believe they didn’t happen. I know I was ‘asleep’… but I wasn’t.

And now, it’s 4am, and I’m afraid to go to bed.

And I feel like I’m loosing my mind.

Any advice? I can’t help but think what a great potential this is for a book plot… crazy me, but everything I experience has that potential, but I can go so many different ways with this. Maybe that’s why I get so scared; ’cause my brain can extrapolate out potential plots and worst case scenarios! LOL Imagination: blessing and a curse!

Love and stuff,



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7 comments to Am I Really Awake? How Do I Know?

  • Farah Evers  says:

    That does sound scary, only because I fear you might hurt yourself by mistake in one of your “dreams” that turn out to be real, or vice versa. I’m speculating you’re lacking quality sleep, mixed in with meds, mixed in with being tired from the severity of your illnesses… it can all lead to this state. What if some types of food also contribute, especially in your special case?

    I’m not being too helpful, am I? LOL But I do insist you should find a way to get some good quality, deep sleep, even if in short intervals.

    • Michy Devon  says:

      Just knowing folks care and love me is helpful, more than you can know. I think you’re probably right on all counts–this is a situational thing, medication, lack of sleep, feeling ill, maybe something I ate or didn’t eat, just a bunch of stuff, all piled up together. Hopefully the doc will have some ideas. Just tough to go to the doc and say, “Hey, something’s wrong and I don’t know what and I can’t tell you how I feel or what’s going on, just something’s wrong…”

  • Derek Odom  says:

    Ever notice that when you are sick, the night seems to last like three nights? Probably because of not really being asleep and waking up often. Then, when you are on the mend and sweating the fever out, the same thing happens. After that, the nights go by too fast.

    The conversations that never happened are a tad freaky, though, especially since they seemed so real and they were so mundane. Real good fodder for stories! I like where your head is going with that.

    Get some sleep and revisit this in the morning; you’ll see it all much clearer, but not clear enough to make any sense of it–that’s the beauty!

    • Michy Devon  says:

      Oh, yes, time is very relative. I love that and hate that about time. It can be quite scary sometimes when time doesn’t feel constant, when everything is in flux and there’s no ‘time’ to ground you to the ‘now’.

  • cathy urbanski  says:

    It could be some sort of disturbance in sleep patterns. I’ve had a few rounds of sleep paralysis and bouts of insomnia. But let me ask, are you still taking tramadol? Reason I ask is, when I had my daughter, they gave me some drug – something to assist the uterus so you don’t bleed out. I had a bad reaction, the rare one where it can cause hallucination. A couple hours after the first dose, baby was in the nursery and I was in my room. Got up to go pee, and saw an old man in the shower. Then he was gone. Then I was back in bed, got up to go pee (again, but not again) and as I opened the door, bits of trash blew out of the trash can, turning to white rats on the floor. Then I was back in bed, getting up to pee. This time I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror, but that was me, and I knew it was a different person, so who was I?

    Then, back in bed, I heard the intercom, “Code blue, baby Urbanski.”

    A minute later, I saw two nuns wheeling a bassinet past my door, a pink tag on the end, the baby’s body covered in a black blanket.

    When my daughter was born,my grandmother was upstairs in the same hospital dying of cancer, so I assumed I was cracking from the stress. Right about the same time, my legs cramped really bad. The visuals, I could write off as me losing my sanity, but the cramps had me worried – did I have a blood clot?

    I pushed the call button and a nurse came into my room. I explained everything I had seen, and she said, “Okay, calm down. Let me see what I can do.” Just then, the phone at the nurse’s station rang, and she said, “Hang tight. I’ll be right back.”

    And this last part with the nurse happened more times than I can remember,at least six or seven, maybe more. It was as real as this moment right now. I could feel the ID bracelet chaffing my wrist and all the physical traits of recently having given birth. I could see the hospital gown, everything in the room, the light from the hallway…. everything in the hallucination was identical to real life.

    Finally, the nurse actually did come in – and it was exactly as before, until the phone rang at the station. And she said she’d be right back but I grabbed her and would not let her leave. I was completely hysterical,sobbing, clutching at her.

    Well, she did leave this time, but she came right back with the PDR, and looked up that med.

    She told me I was not losing it, and I’d be fine as soon as it wore off. I sat up all night shaking. By noon the next day, I felt pretty normal. That was the scariest thing that ever happened to me. To think your mind can do things like that – and all over a little pill!

    Anyhoo, I’m glad you’re going to talk to your doctor about this. It may be some other thing completely, but if it’s as simple as getting off a drug, good deal.

    Good luck with this.

    • Michy Devon  says:

      What a terrifying experience! I am constantly amazed at what our minds do… how our brains try to manifest information when we are confused, medicated, altered. The human mind is a scary, scary place. And it wouldn’t matter how much those people told you this wasn’t real, it was very real to you. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

      I’m off the drug–at least, the one we think we causing this. But there’s something more to what’s going on here that I haven’t figured out yet. We noticed last night my heart rate was way low, and that might be some of it. My heart rate was going down into the 40s… I don’t know, that scared me enough I couldn’t sleep, so then I start the sleep deprivation cycle all over again.

      This is sheer insanity. I mean, I feel like I’m insane.

  • dvbt  says:

    Hello. splendid job. I did not imagine this. This is a great story. Thanks!

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