You ever have one of those days where you rush through each thing, feel each frustration and little joy, wear yourself out and wear yourself thin, and then at the end of it, you hear the steady bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz of the alarm that wakes you up, and you wake up and realize everything that just happened was a dream and that now you actually do have to wake up and rush through each thing, feel each frustration and little joy, etc. ad infinitum?
And as you shake your weary head from the doubling echo effect of dream world intruding on real world and real world intruding on dream world you spot the inconsistencies between the two. You don’t actually live in that house any longer. You drive a different car. You have a different job.
You separate out the parts that don’t actually fit in real world and set them to the side. Maybe to discard, maybe to inspect, but mostly to get them out of the way, because you have to stumble into the bathroom and pee. You have to wake up all the way and make the kids breakfast. Make lunches to pack for school bags. Get to a meeting. Work your shift.
And this fuzzy, out of focus grasp on reality has to straighten out just so you can get the next part done.
I had one of those last night.
And I set apart the things that did not fit.
When I was picking out a t-shirt to wear, one of the parts stood up in my brain and insistently waved at me. “Why don’t I fit?” it said to me. “I am reasonable.”
I picked up that part with tweezers and set it to the side and told it “not now, Dream-Truth. I don’t have time for you. You don’t belong in the Real World, that’s all. You’re not part of things. Now hush up while I get stuff done.”
It shuffled and sat down.
It was mumbling to itself while I got the kids dressed. A red shirt for P, a blue shirt for Pie. Jeans because the weather is still somewhere between wet Spring and ferocious Summer here in Georgia.
I ignored it.
It was fuming while I was whisking eggs, and pouring some milk. P’s not going to eat the eggs, I’ll offer him some hummus after coming back from dropping Pie off. I could feel the Dream-Truth “AHEM” in the background.
I dropped Pie off at school and got back in the car with P. The Dream-Truth said simply, “but…” when I slid the key into place.
Finally I stopped. “What, Dream-Truth? What do you need to say?”
“Why am I not true?” It looked at me plaintively. Images from the dream flashed across my inner eye.
In my dream, mental illness was treated as the physiological condition it was. It was included on insurance forms. People talked about how they were feeling and what they were doing for their mental fitness much as they now talk about their physical fitness.
We understood that people have depressions or manias the same way that people have any other sick period.
We took care of each other. Dropped off a casserole when someone was feeling blue. Took a friend out to dinner when they were feeling lonely.
When someone felt overwhelmed, we saw their mental exhaustion the same way we saw physical exhaustion. We made accommodations for it the way we do for physical strength. We understood that chronic or permanent mental health conditions were not reflections on the human worthiness of a person, but instead, a notation on who they are.
We did not separate out neurology from physiology, in short.
And I closed my eyes.
“I’m sorry, Dream-Truth. It’s true. You’re true. It’s just… it’s not the way it is out here. You’ll have to slip away for now. Come back again another day. I hope to meet you in the real world. You are beautiful. Thank you. I’m sorry.”
The Dream-Truth sat there for a minute. Still radiating it’s out of focus grasp on reality just a little as it’s fingers loosened. “Yeah. But,” it said wistfully, “you can share me, can’t you? Maybe if more people had this dream I could arrive faster?”
“Yeah. Yes. Totally. I will. I promise.”