The Recurring Possum Dream and Depression

A Creative Commons photo of a possum, or in the scientific term, an American opossum. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

If I believed in dream interpretation, perhaps I should read something into the fact that I’ve had a recurring dream about an ugly possum (redundant), which resembles more of a feral hog in size, finding its way inside my home and trying to bite me. The obvious interpretation, from a general standpoint, of why one has any sort of recurring dream is that they have a.) some sort of unresolved difficulties in their life, and that unresolved difficulty manifest in the subconscious through dreams; and b.) it is reflective of a wobbly (my very scientific word) psychological foundation, such as depression.

And if I were to take that interpretation down to its more specific symbolism: The possum represents my longstanding fear, of which I’ve talked about in prior posts, that my severe depression and suicidal ideation will return. I’ve been well for more than a year now, thanks to the right antidepressant and to about two months of weekly, and then bi-weekly, therapy. But I worry about “relapsing,” as it were.

I have only encountered a possum in real life on one occasion. One of my foster dogs, Lucy, was sneaky and sprung out of the house while I was bringing the groceries in. I was able to catch up to her behind a row of townhouses across the street. The townhouses abut a forest that leads to a lake. Lucy and a possum were in a hissing (the possum) standoff. I scooped Lucy up and got out of there. That possum was one of the ugliest creatures I’ve seen in real life, and like something out of a horror movie. So, there is the simpler explanation, again, if you believe in that, for having a recurring dream about a possum invading my house.

There are three reasons I’ve been thinking about “relapsing” in the past number of days: 1.) I had the dream about the possum last night; 2.) I have noticed I am feeling more down the last couple of days; and 3.) Three days ago, I saw the story circulating about a Washington Post editor who died by suicide. Only this morning did I decide to read the article, but the headline alone has been stuck in my head.

Christopher Shea, 53, assigned and edited news essays and analysis for the Post, and according to his sister, Shea had depression and died by suicide.

My condolences to Shea’s family. If you need help, in the United States, we have a new suicide hotline that can be reached by calling 988.

He was 53. That haunts me. I don’t know Shea, and I don’t know if he also sought treatment through antidepressants, therapy, or both, but what haunts me is the idea that I could be psychologically healthy and well for X number of years, and then, I relapse, fall back into depression and suicidal ideation, and suffer the same fate as Shea. I’m almost 32 now. I find it terribly frustrating to think about how even when you are psychologically well, the danger still looms, if you’re not vigilant and if you don’t have a proper support system in place (and I’m not suggesting Shea wasn’t vigilant or didn’t have such a support system; depression is a helluva monster, folks, it can overwhelm even with those in place).

In the dream where the possum invades my house, I can’t even remember how I end up evading its bite and get it out of the house. I vaguely recall telling Benny, my current foster dog, to get it, but I don’t remember if Benny does or not. Maybe Benny is a symbol of my regimen of antidepressants, and I’m wondering if they are going to hold, should depression invade again.

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