Hope, I also used to worry I was schizophrenic, and it didn't help that my father was, or that my mother would tell me that someday I might be. Apparently I had an invisible friend when I was very young and I think it scared my mother into thinking I was hallucinating like my father did. Eventually, I sought counselling and I have been certified by multiple therapists as not having mental illness, and one common bit of feedback I got echoed back by professionals is that by virtue of worrying that one does have mental illness, it's most likely you don't. Apparently, one measure of psychosis is that you don't know you're psychotic and you tend not to believe that you are even when diagnosed as such. So there's that.
I'd have to say that the nature of wondering whether you are schizophrenic probably means you are not. Of course we want an explanation for anomalies like waking dreams! They are so real and can be super scary. It wasn't until taking a psychology course that touched briefly on hypnopompic visions, or reveries, as I like to call them that I encountered this phenomenon. Its common in narcolepsy but not partial to having that condition; but I would wonder if you fall asleep like narcoleptics do? I fall asleep on the bus, while driving, in class, I'm nodding off sometimes when in a conversation, and it happens more under stress, like talking to an authority figure, or training at work by a manager, I'm struggling not to fall asleep on my feet in midsentence. Whether that's from sleep deprivation or slight narcolepsy, who knows. I've never been tested for narcolepsy. But the data on the condition and hypnagogics and hypnopompics does make me wonder. I bet you're a creative photographer. Aphantasiacs and those with dreamscape intrusions would be creative! imo
My dreams infringe on my waking world and tend to most occur when coming out of a dream usually, but I've also had hypnagogic ones as well, experienced on the way in to sleep. I remember reading that normal people don't dream until many hours into sleep when REM occurs; I thought well, then, I'm a freak, because I dream often immediately after drifting off for a few moments. And I tend to jerk awake with a jump, or a shout, because the dreams are so vivid and startle me since they come on so quickly, especially when I'm sleep deprived. I dream right away, as soon as I'm asleep.
It's interesting your experience is auditory. During my dreams, I know I can hear the soundrack, and I know I 'see' the scenes visually, however, when I wake up, if I can still 'see' the dream or its character/s in my room, at that point, I can no longer hear what's happening in the scene. It feels like I'm watching a play that was pulled into my room from the dream, yet there's no sound, as if the sound from my dreams cannot transition into my waking reality the way that what I'm seeing does. I just hear weird zapping and buzzing sounds, and I can see the dream's people or characters trying to talk to me, notice me, or fleeing from my awareness or my attention.
I often get the feeling that the characters from my dreams that appear briefly in my waking time had not actually been able to see me while I was dreaming, until I wake up and then it seems like they all of the sudden can see me and they act alarmed that I am there, sometimes they talk to each other excitedely and point at me, sometimes the yell and motion toward me, sometimes they are mouthing words I cannot hear, and some of them run or try to hide and appear terrified of me… but always, within moments, they quickly disappear as if an old analogue TV was switched off, you know, that the fade of the image from a picture into a fuzzy dark circle and down into the single point of light at the middle of the screen that an old tv would do when you shut the power off. My reveries only last several seconds and they burst and fade into nothing. Once I am fully awake I cannot picture or visualize my dreams, not in the least. It feels quite disappointing, too, because many of my dreams are interesting and I wake up unable to visualize something that I 'know' what it looked like moments before. Sometimes I get an image burned in my memory so that I 'know' what it would look like should I see it, but I cannot close my eyes and visualize it. I close my eyes and just see nothing. Yet the memory of the image is there; it's deeper and I can 'think' what it looks like, and I could describe the color and features with detail, but I cannot bring it to mind by visualizing at all. I thought that was normal, before I heard of aphantasia.
I'm sorry your visions are less than pleasant. Mine seem mostly benign. It is very stressful to have to watch distressful scenes unfold in your most vulnerable space, bed. I don't have it happen as often as you describe, but do know what it feels like because it does happen. It feels like being paralyzed and having to watch terror unfold without being able to react. It's very disturbing. You are describing a healthy reaction to a horrible circumstance, in fact, it is torture to have to watch horror and not be able to have agency to act or help. You sound quite balanced and empathic to me.
That said, I do sometimes dream of people chasing other people or dream of witnessing a murder, or of watching police digging up a yard and finding bodies, but those dreams tend not to come into my waking moments. But I get the sense that nobody can see me, like I'm invisible, which is no fun because I also feel like I can't help the victim or scare off the intruder or the pursuers. My personal take on all of this is that people like us have the ability to dream fully while partially awake and aware of our surroundings. It is a reverse type of lucid dreaming and it's a very special gift that can fee like a curse. I have not figured out how to harness it to any purpose, unfortunately.
I actually wish it would happen more often, now that I understand it. I used to be terrified of sleeping. I'm in my forties, and until this decade, I used to try to stay awake all night and would fall asleep when the sun was breaking. The light made sleep feel safer. I tended not to have hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations/visions in the daylight so I would sleep in the morning. I wound up working graveyard shifts because I thought it benefitted me to work through the night and sleep from 9AM to around noon. This decade, I've started training myself to sleep again.
Sometimes I feel terrified by the insects I dream are in my room with my, giant spiders, usually, and human sized caterpillars. But I try to remember that they are dreams that are spilling into my reality and stay calm. Still, I do not enjoy watching a spider the size of a dog sitting on my bed watching me sleep, nor watching it run and hide when I sit up with open eyes. I still jump up and shake out my blankets and check under the bed with a flashlight before I relax. Sometimes a voice says my name when I'm fast asleep and then when I wake up, I hear it again, but I can't tell where it came from or who it is. It is not your fault, and there are many people like us. I thank-you for your candor and for sharing your experience. Aphantasiacs united.