Episode 44 Transcript

44 - Patient #14-A-8(rose)
by Lauren Shippen

[sfx: click of recorder]

Dr. Bright: Patient #14-A-8, session seven. It has been a few weeks since I last saw the patient, as she chose to return to The AM for a two-week program. She decided to do so after making great strides in the control of her ability and getting a little carried away. 

[sfx: knock on door, opening door]

Dr. Bright: Hello, Rose. Come on in, take a seat. 

Rose: Hi, Dr. Bright. How are you?

Dr. Bright: I’m doing well, thank you. How are you doing? What’s your mood like today?

[sfx: closing door, both sitting]

Rose: Mm, about a six, I think? I’m feeling more centered. Less like I’m going to lose control.

Dr. Bright: I take it your stay at The AM was helpful?

Rose: Yeah, it was. I think it was the right call, going back in. 

Dr. Bright: I’m glad to hear it. Could you walk me through your time there? I- they haven’t sent the file over to me yet. 

Rose: Didn’t Agent Green call? He said he was going to fill you in. 

Dr. Bright: Ah. He did. I missed the call and didn’t- I haven’t had the time to call him back. 

Rose: Gotcha. Well, it was a bit like the first time around, to be honest. Except more...a little more rigorous, I guess. They helped me, well, detox, for lack of a better word. Put me in a room that’s meant to block atypical abilities, gave me sleeping pills to put me in a really deep sleep, that kind of stuff. 

Dr. Bright: How did you feel about that?

Rose: It was kind of scary at first. But it helped. I haven’t had a dreamless night of sleep in months, you know that. And when I dream, I want to dream more and then I sleep more and then I’m not awake and not living and that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. 

Dr. Bright: Do you feel like your life is a mess?

Rose: Less so than I did two weeks ago. But, yeah, okay, not really. It had gotten messy, but wasn’t yet quite a mess. It would have been though, had I kept going. I can’t sleep through my life. 

Dr. Bright: No, you can't. But I do think there’s a balance to be found. Your relationship to dreamwalking isn’t a standard addiction and shouldn’t be treated like one. 

Rose: I know. And I know that you weren't on board with me going back to The AM. But it did help. They think there’s a balance to be found too. But I needed that week of just no dreaming. It was really hard at first. Empty and lonely and I woke up with that itch under my skin but after the first few nights, I was waking up rested. And actually looking forward to my day. To being out in the world, talking to real people. 

Dr. Bright: That’s wonderful, Rose. You said it was only the first week that you had a dreamless sleep?

Rose: Yeah. The second week they put me in a different room and let me walk. And then during the day we would do stuff similar to what I’ve been doing with you - the talk therapy, mindfulness, trying to focus on enjoying the present reality. 

Dr. Bright: Did you find that helpful?

Rose: None of their shrinks were as good as you, but, yeah, it helped. It was just nice to be in an environment I could be honest in, you know? When I had these moments throughout the day when I wanted to go to sleep and walk around, I could just say so. And they would talk me through why that impulse was coming up and help me work through it. Or sometimes just distract me from the itch. 

Dr. Bright: Did that make it easier to wake up in the mornings?

Rose: Mostly. There were still times that I wanted to stay in the dream world. It’s just so- sometimes I think that learning to control it was the worst thing I could have done. 

Dr. Bright: Why do you say that?

Rose: Don’t get me wrong - I’m relieved to not be falling asleep at the drop of a hat, but being in control brings its own problems, doesn’t it?

Dr. Bright: You mean choosing to go into dreams.

Rose: Right. I never expected it to be this easy. Based on everything The AM told me when I first went there and all the stuff you said in our first session, I expected it to take forever. Gaining control, that is. 

Dr. Bright: You adjusted remarkably quickly. 

Rose: Do you think it’s because I come from an atypical family? That there’s something in our DNA that makes us really good at this?

Dr. Bright: Did your brother have an easy time learning his ability when it first started up?

Rose: I guess. It also only took him a couple months to get used to reading minds and learning how to lower and raise the volume on them. Though, he was at The AM for two whole months, so that might have made things easier. 

Dr. Bright: Does it bother you that you had an easier time than you expected?

Rose: I don’t know. It bothers me how quickly I got sucked into it. In the beginning, I was so worried about going into people’s dreams and learning stuff about them but now I want to do it. I understand Aaron a lot better now. 

Dr. Bright: How do you mean?

Rose: His telepathy. He likes hearing people’s thoughts. I didn’t get that. I just thought it was really annoying to have a brother who could hear what I was thinking. And a little creepy. But it’s not a voyeuristic thing for him. He tried to explain it to me once. That he wasn’t listening to spy on people or to learn their deep dark secrets, but to understand them. He talks about how it’s not just the thoughts themselves but the shapes of them- the patterns they make. He makes it sound like art or music. Something beautiful. 

Dr. Bright: And that’s what dreams are like for you?

Rose: Yeah, they are beautiful. I wish I could show them to you. To see what I see…it makes people make sense. I mean, dreams don’t always make sense obviously. A lot of the time it’s just visual gibberish. Well, and sometimes actual gibberish. But once I got good at going into dreams, it was easier to find the truth. 

Dr. Bright: The truth?

Rose: People’s true thoughts and feelings. Or, at least, some of them. Everything that lies underneath. Everything that people try to bury everyday. You can’t hide from those when you dream. 

Dr. Bright: And those are the things that you enjoy seeing?

Rose: When they’re not nightmares, yeah. And I’m getting better at dealing with the nightmares too. 

Dr. Bright: They don’t frighten you anymore?

Rose: I still get startled, sure, but I can usually shift the dream away from them pretty quickly. 

Dr. Bright: What do you mean?

Rose: If I’m inside someone’s nightmare, I can stop it. I can help them dream about something else. 

Dr. Bright: You’re controlling dreams?

Rose: I guess. 

Dr. Bright: How long has this been going on?

Rose: Since the holidays?

Dr. Bright: Why didn’t you mention this at our last session?

Rose: I don’t know. I guess I was scared of what you’d think. 

Dr. Bright: What did you fear I’d say?

Rose: That it wasn’t okay. That I was crossing some boundary that shouldn’t be crossed. 

Dr. Bright: Do you think you’re crossing a boundary?

Rose: I know I am. Of course I am. But I wasn’t even doing it on purpose at first. My mom was having a nightmare and it was awful and I was there, thinking about how I wanted to make it stop, wanted her to dream about something nice and then she was. She started dreaming about me. As a little kid. 

Dr. Bright: And you felt that your presence there was the reason for the change?

Rose: Not at first. But then I went to Aaron’s dreams the next night and he was lucid dreaming and—  

Dr. Bright: Meaning he could see you?

Rose: Yeah, exactly. And we were in the snow and he was teasing me like always and then snowballs just starting hitting him. It was hilarious. 

Dr. Bright: And you did that?

Rose: Not on purpose. But I was thinking about how I wanted to wipe that stupid smug look off his face and then snowballs started throwing themselves. He got instantly wigged out because of course he heard my thoughts and normally that means he can get the drop on me in our fights, but a snowball pelted him in the face before he could even lean down to make one himself. 

Dr. Bright: Your brother can hear your thoughts when you’re both asleep?

Rose: Yep. 

Dr. Bright: And you were performing telekineses in your dream?

Rose: Yeah, I guess so. Huh. I didn’t even think of it like that. It just seemed like dream logic to me. 

Dr. Bright: How frequently are you able to control other people’s dreams?

Rose: I don’t know. Like, sixty percent of the time, maybe? But I’m getting better. 

Dr. Bright: Rose, how much have you been dream walking since leaving the AM?

Rose: Every night. 

Dr. Bright: Just at night?

Rose: Okay, so I’ve made a few little day trips. But it’s only been two or three times in the past week, I promise. And it’s mostly been into my own subconscious. Going into other people’s heads when they’re awake is a little unpredictable. 

Dr. Bright: Which you enjoy. 

Rose: Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m trying to stay away from it. 

Dr. Bright: It’s still remarkable to me that you can dreamwalk when others are conscious. 

Rose: It is different, though. Things are more static-y and frantic. Harder to move through. But it does the job in a pinch. Okay, okay, I know that I sound like an addict. I didn’t mean it like that.

Dr. Bright: How did you mean it?

Rose: I really have been doing better since The AM. It’s just- it’s hard. Did you ever read any fantasy novels when you were a kid?

Dr. Bright: Some. Why?

Rose: They’re not really my thing these days, but I read all the Narnia books growing up. Did you ever read those?

Dr. Bright: Yes, I did. Mar- my brother was a big fan. 

Rose: Right, okay, so you know the gist. I loved them because that idea of climbing through a wardrobe and finding another world was just amazing. And then watching things like Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz…when you’re a kid, you hope that there’s some magical land out there for you to stumble upon. And, as you grow up, you realize that there isn’t. And I don’t believe anyone who says they’re fine with that, because it is crazy disappointing. But I found it. An actual magical world. And I can access it whenever and anything is possible there but it’s also completely safe because it’s not real. But it feels real. And I can’t give it up. I won’t. 

Dr. Bright: No one is asking you to. As I said, we can’t treat this like other, non-atypical addictions. Your ability is part of you.

Rose: Can we stop calling it an addiction? It makes me feel like a failure or something. 

Dr. Bright: Rose, before you went into The AM, there were days when you were only awake for two or three hours. You were missing work, not talking to your family, or Emily—

Rose: That only lasted for a few days. I could have stopped it. I mean, I did stop it. Yeah, it helped to go to The AM, but I did the work. 

Dr. Bright: I know. You should be proud of yourself for getting help when you needed it - that’s an extremely difficult thing to do. And Rose, you’re not a failure. Addiction is not failure. Struggling is not failing. As long as we keep trying, we don’t fail.

Rose: But what does that mean for me? I don’t want to stop dreamwalking. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. Like you said, it’s part of me. I’ll dreamwalk regardless. I might as well do it on purpose. 

Dr. Bright: Then it’s about finding balance. The dreamwalking in itself is not inherently a problem. But the habits you formed around it were creating issues in your life. Those are what we need to focus on. 

Rose: Right. 

Dr. Bright: At The AM, did you talk about why you were feeling the impulse to dreamwalk? 

Rose: A little. It was all the same stuff that we’ve talked about before - the fact that it’s exciting, that it’s so much more surprising than real life. I get to take risks and see new things without any consequences. Other than learning things about people which, yeah, can sometimes be awkward. But it’s worth it. 

Dr. Bright: How are you feeling about other aspects of your life? Outside of the dreamwalking. 

Rose: Good. Fine. A new assistant chef started at the restaurant and she’s sort of taken me under her wing, which has been really great. But I worry that being away for two weeks will have ruined that. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sure she understood that you needed to focus on your health first. 

Rose: I guess. It's just frustrating to miss out on things because of my ability. Even when it’s frustrating to be in the real world.

Dr. Bright: But feeling that way also means that there are things in your life outside of dreams that you value. 

Rose: True. Sometimes I wish I didn’t straddle the two worlds, you know? That I could just pick: dream world or real world. And I don’t know which I would pick, it changes day to day, but it’s exhausting to jump back and forth. 

Dr. Bright: How do you mean?

Rose: It’s like I belong in both places and also don’t belong in either. And that’s not a new feeling - being in an atypical family and having to hide that, I always felt like I was living two lives. Hell, even being gay in a mostly straight world feels like that sometimes. But this is different from all that.

Dr. Bright: In what way?

Rose: It feels more concrete. It’s literally two different worlds. The way I relate to people now is completely different. I can bring information from dream world into my real life if I want, but then there are times when I don’t want the other person to know that I know something. Especially if it’s someone who doesn’t know what I am. 

Dr. Bright: Have you told Emily yet?

Rose: No. I’m going to. I really, really am. I just keep chickening out. And I hate it! That’s not who I am. I’m not a coward. And I’m not dishonest. But it’s just so much harder than I thought it would be. And we’ve been dating seriously for nearly three months now and I know I have to tell her but the longer I wait, the more guilty I feel and the less I want to tell her so I keep putting it off and it just goes round and round. 

Dr. Bright: Do you worry she’ll react badly?

Rose: I have no idea how she’ll react, that’s the problem. She knows about the narcolepsy, which was already weird enough—

Dr. Bright: Thousands of people have narcolepsy. It’s not weird—

Rose: I know, I know, I gave her the whole spiel. And she took it in stride, like she does with everything, but adding a completely fake-sounding, fantasy-novel condition on top of that might be a hard pill to swallow. I don’t know that’d she’d believe me. I wouldn’t believe me if I hadn’t grown up in this world.

Dr. Bright: Is this something you've talked to Aaron at all about? Has he dated non-atypicals?

Rose: Yeah, he has. But he’s never told any of them about his ability. I love my brother, but he’s kind of the worst when it comes to girls. I don't think he's had a relationship that lasted longer than three weeks since his telepathy started up. He says he gets bored of people really quickly because there’s no mystery to them now. 

Dr. Bright: Do you ever feel that way now that you get to see into peoples’ subconscious minds?

Rose: Are you kidding? Some people are more of a mystery now. First of all, the subconscious is a really wacky place. Half the time things don’t make sense at all. And secondly, it’s where people put all their repressed stuff so a lot of what I see completely contradicts what someone does or says in their normal life. 

Dr. Bright: In what way?

Rose: Take Aaron for example. Whenever he dreams about me or my parents, he’s so loving about it. In reality, he’s kind of a jerk. I mean, I love him and I know he loves me, but we’ve always been super competitive and that makes our relationship kind of combative, I guess. He would never be as affectionate with me as he is in his dreams. Dream me, I mean. When I’m there and he knows, it’s pretty much the same. 

Dr. Bright: Hence the snowball fight. 

Rose: Exactly. 

Dr. Bright: But that sounds like going into his dreams help you understand him more, not less. 

Rose: It’s connecting the thread, you know? Seeing how he feels in his subconscious and then dealing with him in real life, it’s like two different people. And I can’t figure out why he acts the way he acts sometimes because that’s clearly not what’s at his core. 

Dr. Bright: You said you’re both combative - why do you think you behave that way?

Rose: Because he does?

Dr. Bright: Is that all?

Rose: He’s older. He started it. I guess we’re both afraid of being vulnerable? And now that we each have this weird window into each other’s heads, it feels even scarier to be vulnerable in reality. 

Dr. Bright: Is there someone you feel you’re able to be vulnerable with in your real life?

Rose: Present company excluded?

Dr. Bright: Yes. 

Rose: I want to say Emily but she doesn’t know this huge piece of me. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and everything except this. And at first it was fine but for the past month as it’s become a bigger and bigger part of my life, it’s made it hard to be myself around her. 

Dr. Bright: Do you think finding a balance with your dreamwalking will make you feel more comfortable with her?

Rose: I think telling her would make me feel more comfortable. But I just don’t know how to do it. 

Dr. Bright: Where is the resistance to the idea coming from?

Rose: That she'll call me a freak? That she’ll break up with me?

Dr. Bright: How would you feel if that happened?

Rose: Completely devastated. I think— I think if I let myself, I could fall in love with her pretty quickly. 

Dr. Bright: If you let yourself?

Rose: I’ve been trying to keep a bit of mental distance because, well, I’m scared. If I let myself fall head over heels and then tell her and she rejects me, I don’t know what I’d do. And then there’s my mom. 

Dr. Bright: Your mom? What do you mean?

Rose: Her precognition. She’s never been all that crazy about any of my girlfriends. She’s liked them fine but hasn’t made a big effort to get to know them because she'd always know that they weren’t serious, even if I didn’t. But with Emily, she’s totally different. She’s constantly inviting her over to Shabbat and asking me about her and it’s so weird. She's way too invested. 

Dr. Bright: This is the first person you've dated since your ability started, isn’t it? Do you think that might have something to do with your mother’s behavior?

Rose: Oh yeah, maybe. I hadn’t even thought about that. I finally asked her about it the other day and all she said was, “Emily is important”. 

Dr. Bright: Did she tell you why?

Rose: No. She tried to make it sound all mysterious but I don't think she totally knows why herself. It’s not always clear visions with her. Sometimes it’s just more impressions. Like, she can feel it in her gut that Emily is going to be an important person in my life, but not how. I mean, I doubt she’s the woman I marry because, hello, I’m not even twenty, but maybe, I don’t know, maybe she’s the first person I tell about my ability?

Dr. Bright: Is it important to you for your mother to be right?

Rose: My mother is right. She’s always right. She’s really good at what she does. Even when it’s inexact. 

Dr. Bright: How have you dealt with your mother’s predictions in the past? Do you use them to make decisions?

Rose: She usually doesn’t tell me when she sees stuff about me. Unless it’s practical. You know: “take an umbrella today” or “don’t go near Bobby or his brothers this week because they all have the chicken pox and don’t know it yet”. That kind of stuff. But she doesn’t tell me or Aaron the big things. 

Dr. Bright: Why not?

Rose: She wants us to make our own decisions. She says even though she can’t help making choices based off what she knows, she wants us to have free will. Not to be ruled by destiny. 

Dr. Bright: But she told you about Emily. 

Rose: I pestered her about it for a few days. I could tell she knew something and it was driving me nuts. But now I see her point. I feel like there’s a right choice to make but I don’t know what that is. 

Dr. Bright: Were your strong feelings for Emily there before you talked to your mother?

Rose: Yes. 

Dr. Bright: Then why does it feel different? She was already important to you. 

Rose: The stakes feel higher now. There’s something bigger for me to mess up. 

Dr. Bright: And how do you think you’re going to mess it up?

Rose: By telling her or not telling her. There’s no good answer. I tell her, she might freak and leave. I don’t tell her and we get serious, I have to hide who I am forever. I want an option C. 

Dr. Bright: What do you think option C would be?

Rose: To stop dreamwalking. 

Dr. Bright: But you said yourself you don’t think that’s possible. 

Rose: That’s what I thought at first but the AM, the pills they gave me - they worked really well. Totally dreamless sleep. 

Dr. Bright: And that could be a long term solution? I thought those drugs were only for detox. 

Rose: I guess they’ve tweaked the formula, because they said they were basically like normal sleeping pills now. I could take them regularly. 

Dr. Bright: Is that what you want to do?

Rose: No. But it might be a good idea, right? So that I don’t go down that road again?

Dr. Bright: It certainly helps to have the option. That’s not the case for all atypicals. 

Rose: Ugh, I know, Aaron is always complaining about how there isn’t a pill in the world that can fix his headaches when they get bad.

Dr. Bright: Many nonatypical people take sleeping pills when they are having a hard time getting fulfilling rest. This doesn't have to be different. Did you go over everything with a physician at The AM?

Rose: Yeah. They said the same thing - that it’s basically a like normal sleeping pill. I just take them when things get to be a little too much. They seemed to think I could take them every night, though. 

Dr. Bright: If they really are like normal sleeping pills, those can become addicting on their own. That may not be the best long term solution. However, if The AM has been making strides in psychotropic medicine that works on atypicals, that could help you get on the path to addressing the underlying relationship you have to your dreamwalking.

Rose: I think the sleeping pills are as far as they’ve gotten, so I guess there isn’t really an option C after all. I mean, I’m happy to take the medicine when I need it, but the truth is, I don’t want to stop. Towards the end of the week of dreamless nights, I started to feel groggy and weird again. I think you’re right. I think it is about balance. 

Dr. Bright: Then you do what is going to help you find that balance. As long as it’s within the bounds of what your doctor said was safe for you to do. And if there are any problems or you want to reevaluate, you should call them right away. 

Rose: Are there other atypical doctors? You know, outside of The AM? My family has always gone there for atypical-related stuff and to a normal doctor for everything else. Do you know of anyone who does both?

Dr. Bright: Not currently. But if you’re not happy with your AM physician, I’m sure you could ask Agent Green—

Rose: No, no, it’s not that. My doctor is fine. It’s— you used to work there, right? 

Dr. Bright: Yes. 

Rose: Did you ever get the feeling that something weird was going on?

Dr. Bright: What do you mean?

Rose: Something shady. 

Dr. Bright: Rose, did something happen while you were there?

Rose: No, no, nothing happened. Not to me, anyway. I was dreamwalking and I found myself in another patient’s dreams and it was, I don’t know, it wasn’t good. At first I thought it was just a nightmare but then when I was leaving, he was checking out at the same time. I recognized him from his dream. And I introduced myself, because if there’s any place where you can go up to someone and say, “hey, I was in your dream last night, can I ask you some questions about it”, it’s at The AM. 

Dr. Bright: What did he say?

Rose: He was freaked. He said he didn’t want to talk there but we exchanged numbers and I’m getting coffee with him tomorrow. I don’t know, the whole thing feels pretty hinky. 

Dr. Bright: Are you sure you should be meeting with this person? 

Rose: Yeah, it’ll be fine. We’re meeting in public, in the middle of the day. And besides, he’s atypical too, so it doesn't matter that he knows I am. 

Dr. Bright: Do you know what his ability is?

Rose: No. Nothing that was immediately obvious. He just seemed so scared in his dream. I want to know why. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. 

Rose: You never saw anything suspicious there? At The AM?

Dr. Bright: I can’t talk about my time there - it’s all completely confidential. But you’ve had a good experience. The most important thing is to find physicians that you trust. As long as you feel you're making progress, that’s what matters. 

Rose: Yeah, I guess. Well, anyway, I’ll see this guy tomorrow and see what he says. I definitely don’t want to go to an organization that’s doing something unethical. Plus, it’s nice to make new atypical friends. 

Dr. Bright: That’s very true. It’s important to have a community of people you feel you can be yourself with. 

Rose: Exactly. Ugh, god, this whole conversation has been weirdly stressful. Could we- do you think it would be alright for me to take a quick walk?

Dr. Bright: Do you want to walk to relax or to escape?

Rose: To escape. 

Dr. Bright: Why don’t we try a little meditation first and see how you feel. 

[sfx: time passes]

Dr. Bright: How are you feeling now?

Rose: Better. Less like I want to run away into dreams. 

Dr. Bright: That’s good. This week I want you to try those mindfulness exercises when you feel the impulse to dreamwalk during the day. And try to pay attention to where that impulse is coming from. 

Rose: Okay, I can do that. 

Dr. Bright: Call me if you have any concerns. 

Rose: Will do. 

Dr. Bright: And you’ll tell your parents where you’re getting coffee tomorrow? You’ll leave if you feel at all uncomfortable?

Rose: I will, I promise. And maybe if he needs more help, I could introduce you guys? It seemed like The AM wasn’t really helping him. 

Dr. Bright: My door is always open. 

Rose: Great. I’ll see you, Dr. Bright. 

Dr. Bright: Goodbye, Rose. 

 [sfx: click of recorder]

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: Episode 44 was written and directed by Lauren Shippen and produced by Mischa Stanton. The voice of Dr. Bright is Julia Morizawa and the voice of Rose is Alanna Fox. Our music is composed and performed by Evan Cunningham. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep because you haven't gotten that Casper mattress yet, try listening to “Sleep With Me”, a podcast where Drew Ackerman tells you bedtime stories. And then in December, come to Podcon in Seattle to see Drew and myself mashup our storytelling styles in a Podcast Scramble, one of the many awesome things that’s going to be happening at Podcon. If you use the code brightsessions when you buy your ticket, you’ll get 10% off. We can’t wait to see you there. The Bright Sessions will return in two weeks, on December 13th with Episode 45. Until then, thanks for listening and stay strange.