Mental Health Support

Terrible dream

I often wake with a feeling of terrible fear and anxiety and awful feelings of loss.

I have just woken from a very vivid dream, one I have had before but have only this time been able to recall it in it's intensity.

I am a baby elephant.

I am watching my mother die because a lemur ( ? ) has somehow become stuck under her front leg ( like her armpit - I don't know the correct terminology ), has been crushed and has rotted, which has infected my mother with blood poisoning or something similar.

I am experiencing appalling feelings of loss, panic and being unable to help.

I am feeling terribly alone, even though there are other elephants around me. I can see and smell them, as well as the veldt around me.

I am too little to help my mother.

I am afraid because I don't know what to do. I can smell the rot.

I have a name, but I don't know what it is and I know I cannot be part of the herd if I don't know my name.

My mother is trying to tell me, but she is too ill to tell me my name.

I am very small.

On awakening, I realised the dream's emotional content is identical with the emotions I experience on a daily basis.

I have not lost my mother - she is alive and well.

This dream is so real, so vivid, so detailed - how could I possibly have so coherently assembled the details to give the narrative the kind of smells and light quality and specifics it has - when I know nothing of elephants and have never been in the bush?

The details surrounding the main events are too detailed. The main event is too specific.

Is this a memory?

It isn't something I would ordinarily mention nor do I have the belief in 'reincarnation' or previous existence.

Although there have been recent ( ish ) traumatic events in my life which served to accelerate and amplify an existing illness, I have not ever been able to pinpoint a reason why my brain has so spectacularly let me down in the last eighteen months or so.

The emotions in the dream carried over into my waking state and I am feeling the side effects as I type this.

Has anyone any thoughts - even if someone can say 'This event was in the news, or on TV, so you got it from there', it would be of help to me.

I actually do not have a television and have not had one for many years, but I also think this is not the first time I have dreamed this dream, although this is the first time I have been able to recall the details.

Sorry if I am rambling, but I am feeling very shaken by this.

3 Replies

Hi, You must feel very shaken after such a horrid and vivid dream. I too have very vivid, traumatic dreams and yes, like you, when I wake I am very anxious and unsettled, The dream seems so real it's understandable the effects carry over when I wake up.

I've tried not to analyse my dreams and keep reminding myself, no matter how real it seemed and still feels, it was just a dream. It's not real. Not easy and whilst my logical self is saying this, there's still a part of me that struggles to let go, to the point where it effects my day and makes me worried about sleeping again that night. So I totally understand.

Like you, I don't believe in reincarnation and so dismiss the idea my dreams are memories. Also like you, I rarely watch TV and certainly never the news as I don't find it helpful, so I don't know whether this has been shown recently.

Take care. Sue xx


Thanks Sue,

I know this probably silly - but this dream has really had a negative effect on my day, so far.

I just can't seem to shake the feeling of despair that the dream engendered.



What a difficult dream, it must have been really uncomfortable for you to be in the dream and to feel so helpless, also painful to remember. I can understand why you feel anxious about it.

You say you know nothing about elephants, but dreams are not pictures of reality, they're fictions based upon things that have happened but often combined with other things which makes them seem as if they don't make sense. Usually they're connected to emotional experiences. You will know about elephants enough to know what they look like etc so there's nothing strange about dreaming about them.

I don't know whether the dream represents a memory. Dreams are not actual memories but sometimes the emotional tone of a dream can symbolise something that has happened or that we are afraid will happen. It's impossible for anyone to interpret the dream, it all depends what it reminds you of from your personal history. Sometimes the links to our experience are from long ago. It's not really possible for you to know the meaning of the dream, although within therapy we sometimes work with dreams - but that's in the context of knowing a lot about the emotional history of the person and also all the things they have talked about and not talked about within the therapy.

Sorry, you will probably have to live with not knowing, but it's interesting to keep a record of dreams and sometimes over time you can begin to make sense of the kinds of things you dream about and what those things might mean in terms of your life now and in the past.

You say you've had traumatic experiences in your recent past and it may well be that the dream represents something of those. You know the saying - elephants never forget - perhaps you are remembering things through the dream, trying to make sense of what has happened. You may also think about the feelings you have about when you were little and when the people around you, your parents were big as those are the features within the dream. Thinking about what happened to little (you) in relation to the big people (parents) in the past may help you to make your own sense of the dream if you want to think about it.

Sorry I can't be of more help, you clearly want an explanation but without the help of a specialist you are the only one who can provide it.

Take care, and I hope you sleep better soon!



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