April and May 2020 will be remembered by many as a period of extreme unreality. Day to day life for everyone changed so much in this time, with many of our usual activities either not permitted or becoming completely impractical.
Any sense of unreality has soon become normal though, but with an ongoing uncertainty of when things might return to the way they were, or even if they will at all. For many people this uncertainty has evolved into stress, and for others it has become more akin to an indefinite holiday – albeit one with limited recreational opportunities. For many other unfortunate people the situation became fearful, and in extremes one of life and death.
I don’t presume to represent everyone in this situation but I know from speaking to friends and relations that this feeling of unreality is common to many. Living as I do in an urban environment – Oxford – I became aware over these few weeks that any sense of unreality was not all negative; I could hear birdsong more clearly, and I could often cross the main road without seeing any traffic. This also meant much less people out and about as well; streets were quieter, and the city centre was largely deserted for several weeks.
Being furloughed by my employer means days became indistinguishable from each other and weekends were no longer different from weekdays. The world became blurred and routine mark points disappeared; life became a seemingly endless journey to an unknown destination.
If you think you’re seeing — or smelling, hearing, tasting, or feeling — things when you’re asleep, you may not be dreaming. It’s possible you’re experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations. These can occur in the consciousness state between waking and sleeping.
Cirino, E. (s.d.) Hypnagogic Hallucinations: Causes, Symptoms, and More. At: https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-health/hypnagogic-hallucinations
if I can dream that I dream / and dream anything dreamable / can I dream
I am awake / and why do that?
When I dream in a dream that I wake / up what
happens when I try to move?
Allen Ginsberg – from ‘Understand that this is a dream’