Before reading, I would suggest only beginning to read if you have a good five to ten minutes to take it all in.
I would like you as a reader to know that I use Neko and Lauren interchangeably as this is my name, but both reflect two distinct sides of myself. Lauren is the person whom I was born. Neko as featured in this recollection is the one who has provided the guidance that has been featured on ‘Dreaming with Neko’ over the years. This Neko did not emerge until 2005. This is the same Neko that went into hiding early 2013. Lauren Neko is now a fully integrated soul… As a Gemini, both Lauren and Neko have their own time in the sun depending on what life has been throwing. Just part of what makes life more interesting.
Previously, (Dreaming with) Neko spent much of her time helping others work out their dreams. The subconscious. The hidden ‘wtf is going on in my life.’ It was partly Neko reflecting on her own ways of understanding life, guided by the meaning behind her dreams. The key to this is working through what ‘stuff’ makes symbols and stories so laced with meaning – be they dreams or reality.
So what happens when the dreams suddenly stop? For Neko, it meant life became a living nightmare. A constant purgatory. So just how did the living dream stop? For Neko it was a personal crisis that brought this about – a diagnosis of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). Neko discovered that the interesting ‘pre-cognitive almost out-of-body experiences’ she had been having, were actually partial seizures.
The diagnosis in itself was not what stopped the dreams – it was a hideously mismatched therapy that came with it, which goes by the name of Carbamazepine. We all know ‘carbs are bad,’ but this stuff took the cake. Neko stopped dreaming completely, yet couldn’t get out of bed. Neko was incredibly angry, to the point of trying to curb violent reactions. She was anxiety ridden, feeling a constant hangover from life. If it wasn’t for the fact Neko met the love of her life at the same time all this came to be, she may not be here. When the eternal dreamer and optimist suddenly wants to die, you know there is something wrong.
Neko went from being optimistic, loving, happy, writing, singing, making music, socialising, guiding others to being a shell of a person who had nothing to give anyone, let alone herself. So naturally (Dreaming with) Neko had to hide to survive, just to exist. It sucked.
From a neuropsychological perspective, Neko had been here before – before she was called Neko. Nine years previous, Lauren had been run over by a car and survived. It was a miracle. It took nearly three years for Lauren’s brain to come back to it’s full self, let alone her ‘soul’ reawaken. So Neko understood what pain her brain was going through and that her conscious experience and the self would change. Oh my, did it change.
After being run over, once Lauren began to heal, she got most of her working memory back (this took much training) and the inner dreamer was screaming out. Suddenly, Lauren had awakened Neko. It was like Lauren had to die (temporarily) for the Neko to surface. This is when Neko’s love of dreams became an understanding of dreams. There was an understanding about how something became symbolic, how to connect symbols to one another and to derive meaning out of everything and anything. It was magical.
So although Neko had brought through this untapped superpower, the incident had also damaged her brain to the point of having these surreal partial seizures. If it weren’t for a meeting of fate, Neko would not have connected to someone who ultimately put her on to a neurologist, where the truth became apparent about the TLE condition.
Although at first Neko felt the stigma of having a label about what makes her who she is, Lauren (and slowly Neko), actually suddenly understood more about herself. If you look up what characteristics of those who have TLE are, it would seem Lauren was born with it – the brain-shake during the impact of a car hitting her at a speed of Fifty Kilometres per hour, induced the seizures. So let’s look a couple of the personality traits of those with the same TLE ‘affliction.’
Highly creative, particularly with music, literature and the arts – Tick.
Have a strong connection to philosophy, mysticism, dreams or religion – Tick.
Lauren Neko, as a creative and editorial writer, permanent student and nerd, professional artist, with a strong connection to dreams, the unknown, the subconscious and philosophy… this fits description of TLE personality perfectly. (Just search for people with TLE and see what results you get, it’s rather fascinating!) So suddenly the title was a crown of awesome, albeit a wonky one whilst she was sorting her life out.
The most curious thing about the discovery was when the EEG showed just what her brain was up to. Neko was having ‘delta and alpha spikes’ during the day. For those of you who knows a little about brain wave activity, you will understand the significance. For those of you who do not, the basic premise is that Neko was experiencing spikes activity that occurs in the brain when you are in a semi-lucid or in a dream state. Neko, had quite literally, been dreaming whilst she was awake for some years. Suddenly there was evidentiary support as to why Neko was a constant daydreamer, but also why Neko understands dreams. She is living a dream.
What happens though when the dream is taken away from the dreamer?
Well… A lot of the misery Neko has already described. Lucky, the Lauren side of the whole person that went missing for a short time after being run over is highly analytical, focused and persistent. Through the lessons she had learned through dreams and life, she told herself to keep kicking on. She eventually ditched the carbs – a dress size or two funnily enough with it. Lauren can again live – seizure free, in creativity, loving people, giving freely and knows that life is worth living again. Neko returned and Lauren and Neko reunited as a whole person.
A few months ago the dreams reappeared, and now Neko is finally remembering them – again, Neko has since been connected to the subconscious underneath. Even after such a traumatising experience, Neko wasn’t as damaged underneath as she thought she would be. It’s understandable why Neko needed to hide. However, Neko was a totally different person once reconstructed and reintegrated with Lauren. She had new perspectives on life that were screaming at her.
For starters, not having a migraine everyday for months on end makes you appreciate clarity. With this clarity, Lauren realised she was not ‘spiritually connected’ to everyone like she was. She thought this side of herself would flood back to her… This really shocked Lauren when it took far more time than she had anticipated. Lauren, nor Neko, was interested in the puff being harped from the ‘holier than thou and enlightened’ people. Life was about being real, experiencing highs and the lows, the holy and the dirty. Lauren is very rational and pragmatic. Although as a whole, the person Lauren Neko had become was still optimistic and aware, she was suddenly spiritually jaded.
How does one go from loving and making a living from guidance, to having little faith in other people and detesting their circles of dogma?
For Lauren, disconnection from this Neko side of herself disconnected her from others dogma. Probably, because none of the substance of the puff, or the people, were there for her when she needed it most during the darker times. However Neko now realises that what (Dreaming with) Neko set out to do, was more altruistic than previously understood. Neko never wanted to tell anyone the answers. (Dreaming with) Neko wants to help others work it out for themselves, by asking the right questions along the road of discovery. It is how Lauren pulled Neko out of the darkness and they began to exist in harmony.
Life experience teaches you a lot, particularly an understanding of the self and the world and universe around you. Although Lauren Neko has experienced a very physical and personal process of understanding neurophysiology and the psychology of brain changes, being able to relate to the unconscious and hidden understanding of life, had made it all the more meaningful.
So what was the most important lesson taken from all this? To dream is to fully live.