When Disabilities Take on Symbolic Shapes

It isn’t uncommon for those of us with disabilities to dream about them. They take on a symbolic shape that expresses how they make us feel.

My husband had a dream last night where he was sitting at a large conference table. He was in every seat. In each of those seats was himself at a different age. Child, teenager, himself in his twenties and so on until it came to his current self who lead the conference. One seats was empty except for a shimmering form.

The topic of discussion was how he wanted each aspect to share their abilities with him. The innocence of youth, the energy and sense of adventure the teen had, and the strength and sense of responsibility of his twenty year old self. As the discussion went on; however, the shimmering form would blast each aspect with painful energy causing each form to shake and lose control. As the conference went on it got worse and worse. He never addressed the shimmering form which was his Attention Deficit Disorder and even more so his epilepsy.

Several times in my dreams, my PTSD took form. It looks like a teenager risen from the grave. She wears a dress as dark and tattered as her flesh. She exudes anger, pain, and sorrow. So many of the darker feelings at the same time. She is truly a nightmare. In my twenties because this mental construct that I had created was continuously haunting me in my sleep, I had to imagine doing battle against her. I wielded a silver dagger.

What have some of your dreams about your disabilities been like? Have you ever had it take on a symbolic form?

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  • Eilidh Nic Sidheag

    My eating disorder and anxiety disorder took on forms for a while. I found that the best thing was to address them while awake, as if talking to an independent person. It always turned out that they were trying, in their limited way, to protect me from something – so it got better when I was able to figure out what that something was and show them that I could find better ways of addressing it. I’m not sure how well that would translate for physical disabilities (which I also have), but for the mental stuff, visualising them as people has been really helpful for me.

  • Virginia Carper

    Sort of blundered into this blog…. I have a TBI which precludes me from being crowds, etc. I have had TBI dreams where I go into my brain and surf along the brain cells. Sometimes, I get these coloured rows of lights blinking on and off as if the nerve cells are trying to reconnect. Most of the symbols feature rows or rivers flowing and stopping. I think it is my brain having new neural pathways.