- What is Eventing
A quick update on life after the Olympics from sunny California!
Stanford has been an incredible experience so far! I’ve met so many interesting and passionate people and gotten to explore, not only the social aspect of University, but also the academic Though I’m currently sloughing through the necessary Engineering prerequisites, I’ve had a chance to take some other pretty interesting classes.
I’m currently taking a course titled “Sleep and Dreams,” taught by Dr. William C. Dement. In this course, we recently touched on the subject of nightmares and anxiety dreams.
During the qualifying period and lead up to the Games, I started have recurring anxiety dreams the night before cross country. Most of the time, in my dream, I would be running late for my xc time, or forget to walk my course and have to go out and find my way around (what was typically a wooded course) on the go. One dream that really stands out, I had a couple weeks before the Olympics. It was the morning of dressage, and everything was in order at the barn. Laura and I were hanging out around Leon’s stall, when my mom arrived with sandwiches for lunch. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this until Laura took a bite of her sandwich, only to get bitten back by a poisonous spider that was hiding in it. We rushed her to the hospital, at which point I had to rush back when I realized my dressage time was in 30 minutes. When I arrived at the barn, I was told that upon completing my dressage test, I was to go straight to cross country. I was horrified…. I hadn’t walked my course.
Then I woke up.
These bizarre dreams and their onset right around the time I was feeling the most pressure prompted me to write this piece for my final class project.
(Laura, I think this dream signifies how important you were to my sanity throughout this entire process…. not sure exactly how to interpret my Mom’s role in the dream)
Went to Work in Your Underwear Again?: Managing Your Anxiety Dreams
My Anxiety Dream, I’m late. I have 15 minutes left till my competition start time and I’ve yet to groom and tack up my horse, let alone get myself dressed. I rush around grabbing equipment. I try to work quickly, but the faster I try to move, the slower and weaker I become.
They are calling my name on the loud speaker. If I don’t get up there now, I’ll be eliminated from the competition. I struggle to tighten my horse’s girth but my arms have no strength. My hands don’t even have the coordination to buckle my helmet strap. Finally, I’m done tacking up. I leap on my horse, and gallop to the start. When I arrive, the starter shakes his head and says, “Sorry, time’s up.”
I wake up. Thank god, it was only a dream.
We all have them, anxiety dreams. Whether it’s forgetting to study for a midterm, showing up to work unprepared, or running late for a competition. These dreams leave us feeling poorly rested and at the very least, relieved upon awakening.
Such dreams are more prevalent than one might think. A study of college students at Case Western Reserve University and Baldwin Wallace College between 1947 and 1950 revealed that the most common feeling or emotion experienced during dreams was apprehension (Dement 265).
But why do we have these dreams? Where do they come from?
Though these questions are still highly debated, there are multiple theories as to what may cause anxiety dreams. According to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the dream “is a disguised fulfillment of a suppressed or repressed wish” (Dement 312). However, it’s difficult to accept point blank that the dreams where we show up to work in nothing but our underwear (or less) are a manifestation of some repressed desire.
A second hypothesis suggests that dream content may be a result of external influences such as fear or stress. Observations of patients in sleep laboratories have shown that dreams during the first night spent in the unfamiliar laboratory often depict a laboratory situation. One patient recalled fearing electrocution by the EEG wires connected to his head and in his dream, attempted to tear them off. Subsequent dreams were often less fearful as patients grew accustomed to the lab environment (Dement 309).
Regardless of the causes, anxiety dreams can have considerable effects on the dreamer’s mental state. The 2009 New York Times article, “Nightmares and Marathons,” investigates the anxiety dreams of Marathoners. Both professional and recreational runners often experience pre-Marathon dreams in which they can’t make it to the start or finish of the race. Such runners often turn to sport psychologists like Manhattan based Dr. William Weiner, who admits he receives anxious phone calls from clients the night before a big race. Anxiety can “be quite draining in terms of muscle tension and lack of sleep,” he explains, also noting that on top of all that, runners become anxious about their anxiety.
His suggestion; come up with a personal mantra.
But for those who find that a personal mantra is not enough to end anxiety dreams, the following tactics may prove helpful.
In a Lucid Dream the subject becomes aware of the fact that he is dreaming. The possibilities then range from simply acknowledging that the perceived events are not actually occurring to potentially learning how to control and steer the dream.
Perhaps, in my dream, I could calmly tack up my horse and head over to the start at my own pace, or better yet, radio up to the start and ask them to wait for me.
Scripting or Dream Mastery
A form of Image Rehearsal Therapy practiced during the waking state, this method has been show to be effective in mitigating both nightmares and PTSD symptoms. The goal is to change the dream by replacing the stressful or fearful elements with calming or soothing images.²
Learning to control and reduce anxiety dreams can help improve sleep quality and overall Sleep Hygiene. There are so many sources of anxiety in our lives, we all deserve to have our nights to decompress and escape the stress of the day.
But who knows? Maybe an anxiety dream here and there is good for us. After all, I’ve never been late for my start time.
Dement, William C. Dement’s Sleep and Dreams. Palo Alto, 2013
² Sarah. “Guiding Your Sleep While You’re Awake.” New York Times, 26 Jul. 2010. Web 23 Feb. 2013
Robbins, Liz. ”Nightmares and Marathons.” New York Times, 22 Oct. 2009. Web 26 Feb. 2013
It is very exciting that the Thai lottery printed a photo of Nina and Chai Thai at the Asian Games on the November 2012 lottery tickets. My sister, Pia, bought almost 200 tickets to give to all her employees! Although noone won anything of significance, we are so incredibly proud that Nina is a “national treasure”. Her improbable Olympic quest has inspired many young riders to reach new goals. The sport of Eventing in Thailand is reaching new levels in popularity. There is much hope that she will return to the sport after college!
Meanwhile Nina has just tonight finished her first term at Stanford. Her nickname is “granny” and she ends up babysitting a lot of her friends at late night parties! She is playing polo over salsa dancing as she finds more in common with riders! She has made a very smooth transition from full time equestrian to full time student.
Stanford honors all Stanford Olympic athletes at half time at the football game. Here is Nina being introduced on the BIG screen
Nina has settled well into college life. She is toying with the idea of majoring in product design, a major in the engineering department. So she is taking a drawing class, AP calculus , a freshman seminar taught by Tobias Wolf and yoga. Yes…she actually gets one credit for yoga…..this is California! I am really proud of her willingness to experiment and go beyond her comfort zone. She is not naturally artistic and is working hard to acquire drawing skills. As far as Nina is concerned, anything can be learned …just like DRESSAGE!
Freshman social activities abound…fountain hopping at one am, scavenger hunt in San Francisco (where she got a second ear piercing in order to earn 50 bonus points for her team) and lots of parties! She is running, rock climbing and has come to pick up her riding clothes from Aaron’s house and may join the polo team. Now that she has knocked some rust off her brain and feels that her academic routine is under control, she wants to explore adding a club sport.
A whole new world…
It has taken us several weeks to resolve this issue. Between Nan and Uncle Scott, I am praying that the virus has gone and has not ruined the many many hours of work that has gone into chronicling Nina’s Olympic journey. For a minute, I believed that this was a sign to close down the site..on reflection we will try to fix it and keep up the site, so I can use it as my e scrapbook.
Nina moved into Eucalipto yesterday, a lovely dorm in Lagunita court. She shares with Maya from Columbia and Maria who is a star soccer player. Soooooo excited and pleased for her to begin her new journey.