Ugh. I'm having my anxiety dream again.

Ever since I graduated from school, I’ve had an intermittent but very consistently themed anxiety dream that only surfaces when I’m worried about my future. Prior to that my anxiety dreams had an entirely different tone to them (usually involving me wanting to do something fun or desirable but being stymied by various annoying circumstances).

I haven’t had it in a long time, but lately I’ve been worrying about a bunch of certification stuff I have to do for work this year (and that I put off all last year because I’m a filthy, dirty procrastinator. If I don’t get it done, I don’t have a job anymore, so it’s not something that can be put off any longer.

It’s a fairly standard setup. It takes place in ‘present day,’ but it turns out that I had just one more college course that I needed to finish up my degree. Only I didn’t do any of the work! And there’s there’s not enough time left to do what I need to do, but there’s likewise plenty of time to worry over it and make a failed attempt. It’s incredibly stressful and I always wake up feeling like I’ve gotten no rest.

Do any of you guys have regular anxiety dreams like this?

I’ve heard having bad dreams about forgetting to do college work after college is normal, and I’ve had that. My college dream is one where I realize I have a final in a day for a class but I’ve never gone to any classes, never turned in homework and now I have to learn an entire semester of material in one day.

It doesn’t seem related to my day to day anxiety though.

I haven’t remembered my dreams in ages, but back when I did I recall a similar one I had repeatedly. It was set in the present day like yours, and I’d suddenly “realize” that I was supposed to have been in high school all these years, and had to go to class now, and make up for all those years I wasn’t in attendance.

I graduated college twenty years ago and until recently I still had the exact dream you described.

Nine months ago I had reason to be on campus of my alma mater, and I stopped by the hall that housed my major classes. I decided to go inside.

And it was just like my dream. I got all nervous and sweaty going in the doors. I walked up and down the halls, looking in on classrooms. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t a dream, that I did graduate, and that I had nothing to worry about.

And I haven’t had the dream since. I’m not saying I’m “cured,” but this is the longest I’ve gone in twenty years without having that awful, awful nightmare of realizing I’ve done none of the reading, have attended none of the classes, and have written none of the papers–and it’s all due next week.

I would have “going to school without clothes” dreams and “going to college having lost my schedule or forgotten one particular class all semester” dreams, many years past their relevance. Lately it’s job search anxiety dreams.

Think of these dreams as your subconcious telling you to get off your lovely backside and get it done. The dread is affecting your sleep, adversely, and there is no need for this. The fact your remembering it means the concious and subconcious are communicating with each other about your need for action on this.

I occasionally have dreams where I’m back working at Starbucks. There’s a long line of people, the drink orders stack up faster than I can make them, the machines all have random failures, I spill stuff, stuff’s not where it’s supposed to be and I have to waste time looking for it, and everyone’s standing around just looking at me (including the people who should be helping). It’s the worst anxiety dream I’ve ever had.

Mosier, that sounds like a horrible dream…but it would make a pretty good sitcom episode.
And yeah, everyone on Earth–well, everyone who has ever had formal schooling, I suppose Kalahari Bushmen probably don’t–seems to have the “I’m back in high school/college and it’s the day of finals and I realize I haven’t even been to this one class all quarter/semester and I don’t even know where it meets” dream or some close variant thereof. Sometimes combined with realizing that I’m in my underwear.

That sounds absolutely awful. It will be interesting to hear how fast it goes away after you get your certification work done, so let us know.

My anxiety dreams always consist of long, arduous journeys through a predictable series of landscapes and events. When I first started having this particular type of dream it would start with me having to cover a certain amount of distance beginning in downtown Minneapolis at a particular intersection and traversing a gigantic and completely illogically constructed mall through a bunch of different stores. (Anybody who has navigated the skyway system there will understand the basis of that part.) During later versions, a sort of amusement park section appeared after the mall that consisted of an enclosed, freeway-sized helical waterslide which emptied into an airport gate, where I was forced to board an airliner with many other people and be flung via a catapult to a destination airport. New sections of this infernal obstacle course get added all the time, and in the dream I am always just plodding along (or swimming or driving or rolling) because I know I am required to complete the journey before I’ll get to wake up.

When I do wake up (and no, I don’t recall what happens in the dream that represents the journey’s end) all I want to do is go back to sleep, because it feels like I have been traveling and worrying all night long. I have to be pretty stressed for anxiety to get through the meds I use at bedtime, and it’s usually the kind of stress that comes with a perception that I’m failing to live up to expectations, my own or someone else’s.

It has been a while since I had the: *I won’t graduate from college because of one class *dream. Last time I think it was English Lit.

What makes me laugh is, even in my dream world I’m arrogant enough to just shrug it off and say: Screw it, I’m a damn good programmer, I’ll get a job somewhere.

My anxiety dream is partly based in reality. I kinda blew off botany and chemistry in college; I went to class when I felt like it and since they were 8 am classes, I didn’t often feel like going. My anxiety dream is the classic “I forgot to attend this class and now I have to do the final” and in every dream, the class I forgot to attend is either botany or chem.

Odd, I’ve never in my life had the “I’m in my underwear!” dream. My personal anxiety dream is about pet animals. See, I used to have pet rats years ago - sweet little charmers, too - and I have a recurring dream where I wander up to a rat cage that I haven’t cared for in years, thinking the occupants must have all starved to death long ago, but they’re all scurrying around waiting for attention and food. Occasionally, my long-dead pet ferrets put in an appearance as well - each time, I’ve forgotten, abandoned really, the animals, and each time, they’re still alive, still waiting for me.

The other one that happens often is me trying to talk, trying to say something important, and though I move my mouth and push air out as hard as I can, no sound comes, only, sometimes, an unintelligible wheeze. But usually just silence.

Oh, and I often dream I’m surrounded by crowds of people in big, multi-story complicated buildings. They’re mostly strangers but in some cases my damn ex-boyfriend has to pop in as well. Those dreams suck - I wake up feeling worn out, not refreshed. A few times, I’ve had dreams that manage to incorporate two or three of those themes, and those REALLY SUCK.

I’ve got three basic stress dreams, and I know by now exactly what they’re for.

Procrastination Alert: the traditional “never went to class” or “damnit I can’t find my class” dream. It sucks, but it’s been so long since I was in brick and mortar school that I usually realize that I’m dreaming and just ride it through. That’s become my signal to get off my ass and actually get on with whatever I’ve been putting off.

Overload Alert: I can’t look up. (side note for context - I have very pale blue eyes, and they take approximately a half-century to adjust to differences in light levels. I am that person you see hobbling out of the movie theatre on her husband’s arm, tears streaming down my face, looking determinedly at the ground or at the only patch of shade in sight.) In this dream, this is worse, in that I literally can not force my face to look up, and have to go around navigating the world by looking at everyone and everything from the knees down. It is incredibly stressful, and also made worse by the fact that it’s so close to my actual eyesight problem that I rarely manage to identify this as a dream. I really try to cut out events and responsibility after one of these dreams, because it’s my sign that I’m super overclocked.

Presentation/Appearance Stress: My teeth are rotting out. I swear, if I could rid myself of any one dream, this one would be it. My teeth are very good in real life, and I haven’t had a cavity in years, but I had a very stressful and anxious time with braces as a child, and my teeth (while structurally good) are naturally yellow, not white. So… yeah. Those are really bad. These are the dreams that hit before or after I have to do a presentation, or show off my work somehow, or in situations where I feel like I’m faking it… obligatory xkcd. I hate those dreams soooo damn much. They really do a number on my self-esteem.

I just had a college dream last night. It doesn’t seem to be linked to anxiety in the waking world, though, it’s just random. The worst part about them is waking up and being freaked out until I remember I’m not in college anymore. The good thing (I guess) is it makes me feel slightly happier about going to work. Because as much as work sucks, at least it isn’t college!


Hey, that’s my dream, too! I opened this thread to post about it!

Yeah, I’m going through a lot of stress and insecurity at the moment because of a job situation, and I’ve been having that exact same dream. I’ve had it periodically several times before as well, in similar circumstances. When I wake up it, it takes a long time to shake the feeling, and convince myself that it’s OK, that I haven’t been in college for years, and that I did, in fact, get my degree - the diploma is in the closet.

I think maybe we should consider changing the way college works if everybody leaves with the exact same post-traumatic stress disorder.

I dream that I’m at work, and my bosses are telling me stuff that they want me to do, and I can’t understand what they want, because it’s too complex. Or I understand them, but I forget what it is they asked five seconds after they asked it.

I think these dreams are rooted in my dread of what it’ll be like when I’m too old to work. Not when I retire; it’s going to be “too old to work” that’ll get me out of the workforce.