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Side-effects

May 12, 2022

I said goodnight to my mom and pop as I saw a glimpse of something on the telly that would lead to 15 years of nightmares. 

Battlestar Galactica sci-fi show was on the TV that was the size of a small fridge. I wasn’t much older than five. I begged my dad to let me watch the show for a few minutes before going to bed.

It looked like an excitement galore to a little kid like me with all those ships flying and lasers blasting.

Times were different than today and my dad let me get a taste of what sci-fi was all about. I can remember how that episode had a brown fluffy robodog, a young boy who went searching for it, and the Cylons he ran into.

Later that night as I fell asleep in my bed I was met with the Cylons. Terror ensued. 

For the next fifteen years, I saw nightmares almost every time I closed my eyes of what I had seen in the show. It was always the same. I was that little boy from the episode I had seen hiding deep within a grey planet that looked like a moon. In the planet’s maze of caverns and hollows battalions of Cylons marched on searching for me. They would hunt me in their silver armor that glistened in the nightlight. Marching in pairs or endless rows of two while I hid behind a moon rock or was peaking from behind a cliff. It was always dark and grey except for the blueish silver of the Cylons protective gear and their red line for robotic eyes swinging back and forth like the K.I.T.T. car’s speaking led light.

They were always so close. So close I could touch them. And there was always this menacing feeling that one was standing behind me ready to grab me from my neck and twist it in half like a tiny twig.

These nightmares felt so real and disturbing. I couldn’t escape. The Cylons never got me but I could feel like I was having panic attacks in my dreams. For fifteen years they followed me around making my night a walking nightmare.

Later the nightmares changed into something else and still twenty-five years later I was having bad dreams five nights a week.

I would’ve never guessed that they could come to an abrupt stop overnight and never return. I never believed I could be free of this nightly hell I was experiencing.

I had started an online mental coaching company a few years back, written a book, created a bunch of online courses for athletes, and was burning the midnight online both from excitement and stress.

Then one night sitting in front of the TV at my girlfriend’s place, my heart racing a hundred miles per hour I realized I was having a burnout.

A few days later, hat in hand I knocked on my mental coach mentor’s door. , an NLP coach if he could help me deal with the constant anxiety and panic attacks I was having. After the hours-long session of hypnosis, relaxation, and change work I felt much better.

Then the night came and it was time to hit the sack. And then I woke up. It was morning. Something was off. I felt pretty good all things considered but something had shifted. I was making a mental and physical systems check to figure out why I felt so different.

It took me a few more nights to realize I wasn’t having nightmares like I used to. It was odd. My nightly terrors, could they be gone? I figured they’d come back sooner or later.

But no. The side-effect of the coaching was that I’d lost my demons.

As I was recovering from burnout for the next six months I had not one nightmare. It felt like bliss. This was way too good to be true. No more Cylons or any other nightmares.

And I never said a word to my coach about my nightmares. Some big shift had happened during that session and the maze in my brain had lost its ability to have bad dreams. What a wicked side-effect of coaching.

Now it’s been almost a decade since that session with my mentor and I’ve had less than a handful of bad dreams and none of them have strong negative feelings. They’re just neutral.

I wonder if the Cylons in my dreams feel lost without a purpose as their prey has slipped away.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beardJussi Tarvainen

Former pro snowboarder. Author at night. Multi(failed)-entrepreneur. And mostly an awesome designer (said, my five-year-old son).

plenty more loot in the vault

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