Dreaming while awake: What it feels like to have a manic episode


You’re in a WWE wrestling arena with a few people you knew in high school, Lady Gaga, your loopy aunt, and your current boss. Everyone in the audience is either a restless baby goat or a cast member of Glee.

You are scheduled to fight all of your companions in the ring. Each time you refuse to fight, one of the baby goats gets their throat slit by Professor Snape, who swiftly appears, ninja-like, in the middle of the ring with a Swiss Army knife.

When you step into the ring to fight Gaga, the ring turns into a busy street in Tokyo, Japan. You are a secret agent in search of a tiny Austrian monk with a tooth-shaped birthmark on his neck and as you run down the street in pursuit, your teeth start to fall out.

You’re running and spitting teeth everywhere, and then suddenly you’re making-out with your first grade teacher in the break room of your office building.

You wake up in a cold sweat whispering, “Let’s just take it slow, Mrs. Kurtz.”


Obviously, those events and situations make absolutely no sense to the conscious mind.  But to Dream-You, everything that happened was exactly as it should happen.

I present to you:

[    D r e a m   L o g i c    ]

the acceptance of all situations in your dream world, without question.

Dream logic makes perfect sense to Dream-You and absolutely no sense to Awake-You.

Dream logic is so real that you actually have memories and knowledge of things in your dreams that your brain completely makes up.  For instance, you knew you were a secret agent on a mission to find that tiny monk with the birthmark.

No one told you these things in the dream.  You just KNEW.

Why am I going into such detail about all of this?

Because it’s the only way I know how to describe what a full-blown manic episode is like.

Have you ever had a dream so real that when you woke up, for at least a few minutes, you lived in its reality?  You woke up angry because your significant other cheated on you, and you reach for the phone to call them.  You wake up ecstatic because you’re married to Justin Timberlake and you reach to his side of the bed to have a morning cuddle.

That short period of time where dream reality and actual reality combine is the only way I know how to describe what I went through, just on a much larger scale.

In a manic episode, it’s like you are having a bizarre, unconscious-spilling-over dream while awake

but you’re able to communicate with and interact with the actual reality in front of you

you just seem like an absolute nutcase to everyone else.

Because you actually kind of are.

There are things that you just “know” have happened or are happening.

You have knowledge and memories of prior events

that never actually took place.

During my manic episode, I could

visually and tangibly

experience two realities:

my “dream” world and the actual real world.

I would see and talk to my sister and boyfriend in the visiting room of the hospital, while also hearing and experiencing a reality that was completely in my mind: the other members of my family were in another wing of the hospital being transported to the roof, and I could hear gunshots being fired at them and the helicopter that was there to transport them to the White House. In actual reality, I was sitting in a room with my sister and boyfriend, fidgeting and covering my ears.  They couldn’t see that I was simultaneously experiencing another, dream-like reality in which the lives of my other family members were in danger.

Here are some more examples of the two realities I experienced at the same time, or what I call my

“Manic Episode Dream Logic”:

Actual Reality: Tiffany is driving me to Local Republic to have dinner after a long day of hanging out at my favorite place on the river, Chattahoochee Coffee Company. My phone dies. I decide to be creative and write “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” on a sign and hold it out the window in traffic to make people happy.

Dream Reality:  All of the above reality, PLUS dream logic: while my phone was dead, I didn’t realize that people were taking pictures of me with my “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” sign and posting them to Facebook. In the time it took to get to Local Republic, I became a viral sensation on the internet, and basically became famous. (DUH.)

Actual Reality:  Tiffany and I are on our way back to my house.  I stop talking to her and don’t even realize she’s in the car.  I begin saying, “What?!  What do you want from me? What is it?  Is the secret Beyonce?  Is Tiffany going to be the President?  Am I going to be the President?  What are you trying to say?”

Dream Reality:  Tiffany and I are on our way back to my house when God starts whispering to me about the future.

Actual Reality: My boyfriend is driving back from a trip to Nashville and calls me to say hello and that he’s on his way home.

Dream Reality: All of the above reality, PLUS dream logic: That week, Dustin made a video about me and my blog. Somehow, Beyonce saw it.  She texted him and said she wanted to help him propose to me, and she called her good friend Barack Obama to be in on the surprise.  He is driving home from Nashville in a car with President Obama, followed by Beyonce’s car. Beyonce is pregnant with her second child.  I cannot meet or see President Obama until I prove to America that I am the world’s most devoted and loyal woman.

Actual Reality:  Still on the phone with Dustin, I run outside, strip completely naked, and run as fast as I can for the entrance of my neighborhood.  I come in contact with two cars, which I growl at like a wolf and take off down another street, saying nonsensical things to Dustin about Obama, Beyonce, and Judas of Iscariot.  I run onto someone’s front lawn, look in their window, and take off running back down the street.  Someone had called the police, and they are waiting for me at the end of the street.  I try to run past them, throw the phone, and I am tackled and held down.  My mother arrives.  The police say they will let me go if she can calm me down, but I’m not having it.  I yell “FUCK YOU MOM, FUCK YOU MOM” over and over, and growl some more.  I say to the police, “I’m not a dog, why are you treating me like a dog?!”  And start to act like a dog.  I sniff my privates, I bark and howl.  They restrain me and put me in an ambulance.  I continue to murmur nonsensical things about the history of the world and start saying “Obama, Obama, Obama” repeatedly until I fall silent and begin to blink my eyes really fast.

Dream Reality:  All of the above reality, PLUS dream logic: I have to show the President that I am the most dedicated and loyal woman in the world, so I take off my clothes to make sure they see that I don’t give a fuck and I just want to get to Dustin.  Obama, Dustin, and Beyonce have arrived and are parked at the entrance of my neighborhood. I have to get to them.  I am being filmed by hidden cameras and everyone is watching this happen on live TV because I am a famous internet sensation.  I run out, and they try to distract me with two cars that do not hold the president nor Beyonce. I need to show these people that I don’t give a fuck about anything but getting to Dustin, so I growl at them to show them that I am actually part-wolf, and proceed on my journey.  The people in my neighborhood are all trying to help me get to Obama by leading the way with their front porch lights.  I follow the lights and must have been mistaken because I am lead to a dead end.  Have they hidden Dustin away in this house?  Let me see.  Nope, I don’t see him in there.  Gotta find them, gotta keep running.  Oh, wow, they’ve sent the police out to try to keep me from getting to Dustin.  They are testing me.  I will get to him.  I can see the president’s car right behind the police cars. They tackle me, and I have to prove that I am dedicated and loyal, so I resist arrest.  I am able to read Twitter in my mind and America is tweeting all about what is happening right now.  They are rooting for me! I am so close to my goal.  I start rapping so Beyonce will come out of her car.  She steps out and walks behind me, but I can’t see her because I’m face-down on the pavement.  She starts to say hello but chokes on her own vomit.  They whisk her away.  All of the sudden I’m in an ambulance. Everyone in the world has somehow died trying to help me reach my goal.  My ambulance falls into the ocean, and we sink down to the very bottom, where all those weird-looking monster-glow-in-the-dark-fish live.  Alien-like mermaids find us, and all work together to push us back up to dry land.

(there are so many other examples but you’re probably over your reading quota for the day)


Well.  There you have it.

My best attempt at articulating what it’s like to go manic.

I bet you’ll dream about this tonight. 😉


  1. I wish I could make you understand how much I am in love with you / obsessed with you. You are so brave for sharing this in all of its brutal honesty. You are also a really good fucking writer. This is so compelling, and emotional, and insightful. I seriously believe that you are going to change the world.

  2. That is hardcore. (I wonder if the wolf/strong woman thing had to do with the ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ book?) You are a superstar (figuratively, not virally, heh 😉 ) for sharing this and I’m honored to call you friend. I hope to get to know this complex, intricate mind of yours all the more over time. Maybe you can finally show me that Chattahoochee place you love so much! (P.S. I moved to Dunwoody, about a mile up from the King and Queen building!)

  3. You are boldly beautiful and brave. Thank you for your honesty- I enjoyed reading every sentence of your mind- its an incredible mind.

  4. what a way to explain what you went through! thank you because you do open a window to this part of your life (for us who have no clue) can try to understand! “dream logic” makes perfect sense! you hAVE SUCH unique- thinking (>: LOVE- TT

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I hope so many, many people read this so they can better understand mental health issues. Can’t wait for the day when people react to someone with a brain imbalance the same way they do to someone with kidney stones. 😉

    Rock on. You are brave and awesome. ♡

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