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Is This Just Stress or Something to Be Concerned About?

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From a teen in the U.S.: Hi, sorry to be a bother, but I have been having some really disturbing dreams recently. As a little background I grew up in a normal, loving family, I attend exercise classes twice a week, and I journal regularly, so I feel like mentally I should be in a pretty good place. But I have these dreams where I do really disturbing things, I will describe a few of them here. In one I was having sex with the dead body of the girl I have a crush on (I am an in the closet lesbian- idk if that is important), in another I was having sex with a young child in a school bathroom. I do not have any, um, desire to be with corpses or children, but I wake up from these dreams feeling aroused. I would never, ever consider doing anything like that in real life, but is this something I should be concerned about?

I also have recently been having the strangest sensation that people don’t look like people?? Like, for example, I was looking at my exercise class instructor’s face and it just didn’t look like a face, something was wrong, maybe her eyes looked upside down or something? And like in day to day life people’s faces look strange, it usually has something to do with the eyes looking… just wrong.

I have been stressed recently about my life, you know, the end of my senior year is fast approaching and I need to decide what to do with my life and ugh. Is it just that? Is all this just because I am stressed?

Thanks for reading about my dumb problem, I really hope to hear back from you.

PS: If you are going to say something about me actually going to a therapist, then that is not super helpful, as I do not have the money for it and I don’t really want to talk to my parents about it.

Is This Just Stress or Something to Be Concerned About?

Answered by on -


First: You are not a bother and your question isn’t dumb. Your concerns are as legitimate as anyone else’s. So let’s get to what is bothering you:

The dreams are only dreams. My guess is that you are coming to terms with your own sexuality. Although easier than it once was, it is still sometimes very difficult to come out — both to self and others. One guess is that the dreams are not about the desire to do any of those things but are instead part of your processing the idea that your sexuality is unacceptable to some people.

As for the way people’s eyes seem to you — I wonder if this is a metaphor as well. Is it possible that you worry about what other people are seeing when they look at you?

Those are just guesses. I’d need to know more about you to help you really figure out what you are telling yourself. Yes, I know you don’t want me to tell you to see a therapist. But, really, a therapist can hear your whole story and can ask questions that hone in on the meaning of your dreams and your “visions”.

At 18, you don’t need to tell your parents you want to see a therapist unless you want them to pay for it. You can see a school counselor or go to a local clinic and be assured of confidentiality.

By the way: I don’t believe in the idea that anything is “just” stress. There is no “just” to it. Stress is, well, stressful. If your problems are stress-related, you may benefit from learning some new ways to destress yourself. That’s another thing a therapist can help you with.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is This Just Stress or Something to Be Concerned About?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is This Just Stress or Something to Be Concerned About?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 18 Jan 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.