Every night in my dreams – a blind woman talks about dreaming

Of all the things I wonder about when it comes to people who are different from me for whatever disability-related reason, dreaming isn’t one of the first things that come to mind. But I’m often asked about it.

Do you dream in colour?

Do you see in your dreams?

Do you dream at all?

So I thought I’d answer the questions here in case anyone else was wondering!

You’d probably get different answers to these questions if you asked someone who used to be able to see, or whose vision had decreased throughout their lifetime. Their brain would have a visual frame of reference to draw on. Memories, colours, things that they’ve seen on TV. My brain doesn’t have this, so it can’t create what it has never had access to.

So my dreams don’t have a visual element to them because I don’t know what it is like to see. I might see the sunlight, because I can see the difference between light and dark in real life, but that’s about it.

So, in my dreams, dialogue is important – I hear things and sense things, but not in a way where everything is heightened, rather in a way that doesn’t focus on the visual side of things – because I’ve never had access to that.

I feel things – like the soft fur of a dog, the warmth of the sun, or the water on my skin as I swim. I feel emotions, like anyone else, depending on the type of dream – excitement, fear, happiness, loss, or enjoyment.

I can’t steer my way through the dream, but I am often aware that I’m dreaming, so if I’ve decided I don’t like it, I can usually wake myself up by concentrating really hard and then moving part of my body, which in turn wakes me. That’s quite useful and especially when I was younger, it saved me from a couple of nightmares! I often remember what I’ve dreamed about, and can easily trace links to what I’ve been doing/thinking about, even if things are not exactly the same as in real life.

Being blind doesn’t feature in my dreams that much. I still often dream of walking with a guide dog, even though my golden girl hasn’t been around for coming up to five years. I think this is the way that I felt most comfortable getting around. In contrast, the white cane rarely features in my dreams. I think even though I’ve chosen not to work with a dog at the moment, I was happiest getting around with one at my side.

I remember once I was surprised that I could navigate a completely new and unfamiliar place, even well enough to run after someone. I somehow just knew where the obstacles were and how to avoid them. Maybe it’s like when people dream about flying. We can’t do it, but we can imagine how it feels, and therefore the brain is able to build that into a dream.

Languages are important because most of the time when I’m awake, I’m working in a multilingual environment. So my dreams are usually in English, but occasionally in German or Turkish. Then it’s really funny because people who don’t speak these languages suddenly gain the ability to! That’s always quite bizarre when I wake up, but it seems perfectly normal at the time.

So, have I answered all the questions?

It’s important to remember that every blind person is different, and other people’s experiences will be very different to mine.

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Author: englishwithkirsty

I have two blogs. Unseen Beauty is my personal blog. English with Kirsty is my business blog for people who are interested in languages or learning English.

4 thoughts on “Every night in my dreams – a blind woman talks about dreaming”

  1. This is really interesting, Kirsty. It sounds like you have a very sensory experience using sound and texture and emotion in place of the images. Like you say, it might be different for those who had part of their life with sight, using memories of visuals to copy over into their dreams. I can sometimes wake myself up too in those odd dreams where you know you’re dreaming. I’ve had dreams within dreams too, always featuring the same thing that lets me know I’m within a dream in my dream – I try to turn on my bedside lamp and it won’t turn on. Same thing every time. It causes such panic. The other day the bulb had actually gone and I didn’t know, so I was practically smacking my touch lamp over and over again trying to wake myself up, panicked because I couldn’t get out of the dream… yep, I was already awake! 😂
    Really good topic to cover, Kirsty.

    Caz xx

    1. Oh no, that actually sounds quite scary! Glad you realised in the end lol. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream in a dream before, but my dreams are often very real. Last night it was about wedding planning and people not doing what they were supposed to lol!

      Thanks for your comment XX

  2. This was really interesting, especially the knowing where you are in new places.
    I’ve been asked a few times if I ever walk in my dreams, considering I have never walked in real life. Mostly from how I remember dreams it’s fairly vague how I’m getting around. Sometimes I have a wheelchair, but sometimes I don’t seem to have any bottom half. Not like it’s gone or part of the dream. More that I’m floating.

    1. Ah that’s interesting – so you get those questions too!

      Maybe it’s just that for both of us, the seeing or moving around doesn’t play such a big role in our dreams, whereas it’s something we have to factor in more when we’re awake. In our dreams we can focus on other things.

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