There have been quite a few posts in regards to acting out dreams, hallucinations, along with visual nightmares.
Psychosis doesn’t just affect individuals with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. It also affects other illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), a degenerative disorder that disturbs movement and balance.
“Psychosis in Parkinson’s disease is very common,” according to Michael S. Okun, M.D., national medical director at the National Parkinson Foundation and author of the Amazon no. 1 bestseller Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life.
Psychosis may affect 1 in 5 Parkinson’s patients after several years of diagnoses and approximately 2 out of 3 patients may experience minor symptoms as seeing something out of the corner of their eye that may not be there. I have seen people out the corner of my eye and then when I look they were not there. Freaky!
Patients primarily experience visual hallucinations with approximately 10 to 20 percent experiencing auditory hallucinations. My hallucinations were not auditory. I would have been scared to death if people started talking to me.
Symptoms of hallucinations can be incredibly disturbing for the patient and caregiver. Hallucinations can make care-giving difficult, more challenging, and overwhelming for some. Researchers have found that hallucinations were the strongest predictor for institutionalization.
A small percentage of patients also may experience delusions, or fixed false beliefs. According to Dr. Okun in his piece on managing psychosis in PD:
“Delusions are usually of a common theme, typically of spousal infidelity. Other themes are often paranoid in nature (such as thinking that people are out to steal from one’s belongings, or to harm or place poison on their food, or substitute their Parkinson medications, etc.) Because they are paranoid in nature, they can be more threatening and more immediate action is often necessary, compared to visual hallucinations (Zahodne and Fernandez 2008a; Zahodne and Fernandez 2008b; Fernandez 2008; Fernandez et al. 2008; Friedman and Fernandez 2000). It is not uncommon that patients actually call 9-1-1 or the police to report a burglary or a plot to hurt them.”
After experiencing a freaky hallucination, I was driving at a high rate of speed, and was considering trying to take my own life by driving off an embankment. I thank God that I snapped out of it. I don’t think God was finished with me yet.
In the early stages of psychosis, I realized that something was happening. I was seeing, and/or hearing things that weren’t actually there. For some people, this can get worse over time. According to Okun in the same piece:
“At later stages [of psychosis], patients may be confused and have impaired reality testing; that is, they are unable to distinguish personal, subjective experiences from the reality of the external world. Psychosis in Parkinson’s disease patients frequently occurs initially in the evening, then later on spills into the rest of the day.”
This nightmare I’m about to tell you all about was very vivid, visual, and auditory. This one has been my most real experience of a nightmare. There were Hitachi helicopters hovering by my window (it looked as though the window was out and the curtains were blowing from the wind) with lights glaring in my eyes, I could see a beam of green and red lights. Then I screamed “their going to kill me” as I was starting to climb over my husband to get this guy with the gun. I was awaken with my husband shaking me and saying everything would be alright. I was freaking out trying to get away. I was so shaken and scared that when I finally awoke I started to shaking and crying. My husband had to cuddle me in his arms until I fell back asleep.
About a week ago, I dreamed there was someone hanging on to my husband’s car window. I could see the car in motion with my husband behind the wheel. I yelled I have to get them as I started crawling over my husband and punching and swinging my fist. I screamed “I’m going to knock him off.”
I have had many more, but seem to have forgotten them. I have fallen out of my bed several times. Actually, I think I’m acting out dreams and flip out. Luckily, I have not gotten hurt, but a few sore spots and bruises.
Parkinson’s patients are known to have these scary dreams. Sometimes when I wake up or even later in the week, I will remember a conversation that I had with someone and come to find out it was a dream. I have mentioned several things to people just to find out it wasn’t true because it was a dream. That really bothers me. I can’t believe that can happen to someone.
My vivid, visual, acting-out nightmares are the worse. I have had numerous over the last few years. The first one I had, I can remember seeing a midget in my door way and then visualizing several running around my dining room into my great room and then dining room again, and on and on. I laughed that one-off.
While working in my yard, I’ve started to visualize, several different times, that people with guns are in my woods and are coming after me. I’ve had to go back into my home and lock all the doors.
I am so happy that these things are not happening as often as they were in the beginning.
I hope you are not experiencing these symptoms, however, if you are now you know you are not alone.
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© Written by Mary Killian