Episode 631: Nightmares

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Trauma

Even those of us who do manage to survive a ways into the zombie apocalypse won’t do so without significant cost. People are pretty durable, but surviving day after day in constant danger, while hordes of terrifying walking corpses hunt you, is extremely psychologically scarring. People will come up with all sorts of different ways to cope with the zombie trauma. Some will self-medicate with drugs, sex, and who knows what else. Others might focus on the task at hand to keep themselves from thinking about things too much. Very few will deal with this trauma in any meaningful or healthy way.

The problem is, unless you’re dealing with your trauma in healthy ways, all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable. At least in fiction; I’m certainly no psychologist. Self-medicate all you want, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to face up to the facts. The bad part is, you don’t get to choose the time when your trauma catches up with you. In fiction, these things tend to come up in ways that move the story forward, put characters in danger, or introduce new elements to the narrative.

About this Episode:

It was recently pointed out in the comments that Sam seems to have quite the talent for running into beautiful women in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. I figured it was time for a callback to his deceased wife, Sarah.

Other News:

Apologies again for the unscheduled hiatus last week. By way of apologies, I’m going to have a comic this Friday, which I would normally be taking off for Independence Day. I know it’s not exactly a one-to-one exchange, but there it is.

I’m also going to be taking a vacation in early July, but don’t worry, I’ve got an absolutely awesome guest event schedule for it. You guys are going to love it.

Discussion Question: Bad Dreams

I have bad dreams pretty regularly. It surprises me. I’m almost 35, and I never would have thought I’d have as many bad dreams as I do. How many of you guys are the same way? Do you have bad dreams? About what? And how often?

14 thoughts on “Episode 631: Nightmares”

  1. Good to see you back, Dave! I really don’t mind the comics coming on public holidays or not, no need to have put yourself out so much for us, I’m just happy to see you get back to the storyline! 😀

    • Yeah, it’s good to be back.

      • I have a narrowing dream also that involves water pipes while filling up.
        I also have the no strength dream, as much as I hate that dream I don’t consider it a nightmare. By that I mean I have never woke up suddenly or scared.

  2. I seem to average 2 bad dreams/nightmares a month. I don’t know what time they start but they always wake me up between 3-4AM. (its possible that I have more but only remember the ones that wake me up) They typically involve either a violent situation in which my firearm either malfunctions or for some reason all my physical strength dissapears, or a situation where I am strongly compelled (someone’s it danger and I need to help them) to crawl into a cave or tunnel that just gets narrower as I proceed. The really bad part is that for 1-2hours after I wake up I am overwhelmed with feeling of helplessness or hopelessness. Even the most minor of problems seems insurmountable.
    I finally mentioned it to my doc during a routine physical and he explained that nightmares occurring at a regular time is actually pretty normal as part of an individuals sleep cycle and that the bad feeling I experienced on waking were happening because waking up was interrupting my brains processing during that part of the dream cycles. He explained it like you brain kind of defrags every night like a hardrive and if you interrupt the process bad stuff happens.
    Over time ive noticed that the dreams almost never happen on nights when I work out or do a lot of physical labor. So I have a better motivator to exercise then I used to.

    • Really interesting stuff, I can definitely identify with the second dream with the cave. That sounds absolutely terrifying. I hate when you have dreams where you’re sort of compelled to do something that you don’t want to do, and it just grows increasingly worse and more horrifying the longer the dream goes on.

  3. I quite never remembet any kind of dreams or nightmares when morning comes. I’ve been told that nightmares tend to appear more often when you’re overloaded…
    Seems like now that Sam can catch what seems to be a break, even his sleep is trouble…
    BTW Good to know you’re back, this week seemed an awful long time without a new episode of BotD. I hope this has been restfull for you…
    Looking forward for this early july guest event…

    • Yeah, sorry again for that delay. I really hated doing it.

      • I didn’t say that in any way you should feel sorry about. I’ll be an awfull reader if I ever complain about 1 week break took by one of the most active/dedicated webcomic ever!

  4. Good to see you back, hope job is treating you well.
    1 constant bad dream since about age 11, first some accident just took place. Involved are a building, a couple of bystanders that always end up being friends, and a few cars, almost like final destination movies. Just about when people are starting to pull people out of one f the wrecks, something catches fire. Depending on how I react in the dream there are only so many people that can be saved. It usually ends with a bigger blast and me falling a lot. Once to the point where a dent was put into the bed coils of the matt.
    Strangely it has not occurred in a while.

    Although most of the times I try lucid dreaming principles and get good results, which feel like astrale projection, to put a label on the sensations. Also NO drugs are used! However the best results for a person vary by person.

    • I’ve never been able to do the lucid dreaming thing. I had a buddy who used to swear by it, but it never seemed to work for me, and I got jealous as hell.

      That dream sounds truly awful. It’s like having too much responsibility, and just watching shit fall apart around you when you can’t do anything about it.

      • Here is a hilarious lucid dreaming trick anyone can do to themselves in a safe environment!
        Get themselves really tired and worn out, then start stocking shelves until your arms hurt. You will be stocking shelves in your sleep both mentally and physically, once you realize this in one of the REM cycles, then you can get your mind set up for better possiblly lucid sleep. For added fun tape and upload to YouTube and watch the funny as you are trying to catch that “just right” moment.

        The dream isn’t so bad, 50/50 you can tell it is a dream. The pain and the real nightmare part comes from trying to wake from it.

  5. My worst nightmare is being chased by velociraptors around a freshly waxed kitchen floor while wearing socks.

    My second to worst night mare is dreaming that I’m at work. Saddly, I don’t get paidex for all the hard work I do while dreaming…

    What a person dreams about varies from person to person. Out side stimuli can effect a persons dreams, as what you do before going to bed. I have heard it said that if you play games or watch tv right before going to bed that it can effect your dream cycle. Even interupt it. Something to do with your brain still playing the game and figuring it out after you fall asleep.

    You could try getting your body ready for sleep by turning the lights and stop using the computer or tv an hour before bed.

    You can also try thinking about zombies less :3 I’m sure coming up with neat an interesting ways to feed your character to the walking dead for a comic will effect your dreams to one degree or another XD

    • I dream about work quite a bit. Usually not nightmares though, just boring dreams where I’ve got some project to do.

      I’ve tried to affect my dreams by using different stimuli before bed. It works occasionally, but not consistently, which is a shame. I’d love to be able to shape my dreams every night.

  6. I find the type of dreams I have tied to what I ate or drank before bed. It seems if I have a nightcap or two, it can really affect my dreams, and what TYPE of thing I drank also seems to have an effect. Wine tends to produce in me dreams that are vivid, with people I know, but which are not unpleasant. Gin (if I had a gibson or a martini) tends to produce nightmares — not violent nightmares, but rather unpleasant/depressing dreams involving people that I know which can be bad enough to wake me up and leave me in an emotional funk for days.

    On a regular basis, I don’t typically have any recollection of my dreams when I wake up, and I also tend not to dream about people I know. In fact, the more contact I have with you, the less likely I am to dream about you. If I dream I’m at work, it’ll be at my present job, but I’ll be working with either strangers or people I haven’t seen in decades. So the fact that food/drink can make it more likely that I dream about current friends or loved ones (and remember it) is significant.