I wake up because I really have to pee. Sliding out of my bed, I sneak past my roommate and into the bathroom. I’m really glad I woke up to pee. I always do, but not being able to wake up from deep sleep to pee is a symptom of frontal lobe abnormality, a symptom of maladaptive social behavior: antisocial. It’s funny how so many people use that word incorrectly; the words they mean to use are ‘social anxiety’ when they say antisocial, because antisocial is the psychiatric and correct term for psychopathy.
Sociopathy. I’m glad I can feel remorse and guilt. I’m glad I care about other people and know that they have personal boundaries. I think the antisocial commit something like sixty percent of crimes across the globe. It dawns on me now that these are sleepy thoughts. The kind of sleepy thoughts psychiatry premed give you. I am barely awake after all and I have now stood over the toilet for a good minute and I’ve yet to pee. I can’t get it out. This sucks.
I go back to my side of the dorm in the dark, careful not to wake my roommate, who’s snoring loudly. He should get his sleep apnea checked out; I’m a little worried for him. This is when I notice that someone is curled up in my bed.
I know I locked the door, I don’t understand how someone got there. Of course, knowing it has to be someone from my hall maybe playing a joke, I go to see who is sleeping in my bed.
It’s me. My eyes closed, my eyeballs rolling around underneath the lids in fast and jerky motions. REM. I’m watching myself sleep. How do I get back in? How did I get out in the first place? I touch the physical-sleeping me’s arm
and I jolt awake, gasping in surprise, the fast intake of air drying my throat. I swear I can still feel someone grabbing my arm, but now I’m back in my bed and my roommate is still snoring loudly and my heart is still going a mile a minute.
This fucking mirtazapine man… I’m glad it works, but my shrink wasn’t kidding when he said it’ll give me some weird fucking dreams…
In the middle ages, the Church would have likely deemed me possessed by demons and performed exorcisms on me. A demon would be the cause of never leaving my bed. Beelzebub, immortal, is the reason I no longer have the will to consume, not even my favorite foods. The self-inflicted cuts are the work of Satan. Funny enough, the old man or woman who would have given me the root of Saint John’s wort to chew on, a cure for my true ailment–would have been burnt at the stake for being one of the cunning folk; a practitioner of ‘white magic’, aka herbal remedies.
Farther back, I would have an imbalance of one of the humours. Too much black bile from my liver. The vaporous melancholy that makes me morose and bleak, keeps me from sleep, and makes me sallow; a simple imbalance of the bodily fluids.
Parallel, today I have an imbalance of brain chemicals. Too little serotonin, too little norepinephrine, too little dopamine, too much monoamine oxidase, too many synapses reuptaking, too many medications to fix it. Mirtazapine is the medication I’ve been given, and it does work.
The first few days, I ate nonstop. Well, nonstop in that every time I awoke from the extremely powerful mirtazapine induced slumber I ate about three donuts and twenty chicken McNuggets, if I could get them. Now, all that’s calm down and I feel the best I’ve felt in years. But last night fucked me up. I’ve been on a thirty milligram dose for two months now, and I have had a few very vivid dreams, but nothing remarkable or anything like an out of body experience until now.
I called my shrink and he said experiences like that are uncommon but not unheard of on mirtazapine, and I shouldn’t worry. They’re just dreams anyway; not anything I should be worrying about. But that doesn’t placate me.
Doing research, I found that the bad dreams will subside a little after a few weeks. I am a little relieved I won’t have many more dreams like the last night’s, but something’s still itching at the back of my mind about it.
I’m running across campus. Someone is following me, and I know I just have to get to my hall. I just have to get to my dorm. I just have to get to my bed.
I wake up. I soaked my clothes in sweat and my heart’s going a mile a minute, but otherwise I’m okay. I look over to make sure my roommate wasn’t disturbed but he’s not there, probably spending the night with his girlfriend. I’m not alone though…
I hear breathing from somewhere in the room, but it’s too dark to see where. I turn on my bedside lamp, and the yellow glow illuminates just my room, and no one else. I can still hear the breathing though, it’s deep and slow, and it’s not like there’s anywhere to hide in a twenty-five square foot room with two beds and two desks. There’s no one. Nothing.
I go back to sleep, putting off the breathing as just some kind of post dream leftover or something.
I wake up before my alarm. The cold morning light barely breaches through the dorm into my blinds. My roommate’s not back yet, and I don’t hear any breathing. I slink out of bed and take a piss. Nice morning relief. Walking out of the bathroom, I notice how quiet it is.
The heaters aren’t running.
No one is getting up for their eight am classes.
The subconscious buzz of electricity isn’t hanging in the air. I realize that, for the first time in my life, I am hearing true silence. No footsteps. No wind. No nothing. It makes my skin crawl. I feel vulnerable without any outside noise, like I’m the last person left on earth. It feels lonely.
I walk back in to my room slowly, each footstep sounds deafening compared to the silence. I open my door, and sitting at my desk is a woman dressed in sweats, not too much older than me, her hair red and long. She doesn’t look familiar, and she doesn’t look like a threat. I’m just really confused.
What do I do? What do I say?
“Oh, hey.” It falls out of my mouth. What else could I say in this situation…
“Hi,” she says. “I’m just checking out your room…I think I’m going to be living here for a while.” She smiles as she speaks. I notice how perfectly framed her sallow face is in contrast to her fiery hair.
“This side of the hall is all male; you’ll be living on the other side with the other girls. Are you a transfer?” It dawns on me now how surreal the whole situation is. I know I’m dreaming again, and that brings some relief. I’ll wake up soon and there will be no girl, and my roommate will be back, and the normality of life continues.
“I’m transferring soon… maybe today.” She walks towards me and despite her girlish look, her breathing is heavy and deep in her chest, like an old man’s. “Can I see your hand?”
I raise my hand, and she runs her fingers all across my palm. Her touch makes me shiver. She leads me over to my bed and sits on the edge.
“It stinks like piss in here… looks like somebody really had to go.” She points to a large dark spot in the middle of my bed. “Aren’t you a little old for that?” She giggled.
I had just gotten up to pee, though. That was my last thought before I woke up. Or maybe that was my first waking thought. It’s hard to tell, but I really need to clean my sheets before anyone notices. How embarrassing. I’m nineteen for fuck’s sake, not a child.
I laugh a little at the irony of that before heading down to the laundry room.
I don’t feel like myself anymore. That’s the first thing I said to my shrink at my last appointment. The dreams have stopped, but I feel like I’m an empty shell piloted by someone else. I see and feel everything, but I don’t feel in control. He said that’s normal. It’s called SSRI induced apathy, or amotivational syndrome. He’s tapering me off mirtazapine and putting me on paroxetine.
I’m back in my dorm. I’m not writing my paper tonight. I want to write it and finish it, but it’s like someone else inside me doesn’t see it as important and won’t let me concentrate enough to do it. I look at all the cracks in the concrete walls and I wonder if that’s either a sign of structural damage or raucous parties. I scribble notes about theological transcendence, a paper topic due in two weeks, but I am not concerned about it. It’s that other part of me that wants me to write it down, to understand it.
So, I let it write.
“Transcendence is the movement of the physical realm to spiritual, or the spiritual realm to the physical. Humans and divine beings can both transcend from their respective plane to the other; humans notably doing so through sleep in the phenomena of lucid dreams, and also the pseudoscience of astral projection. Believers claim that the ability to project to other planes is genetic and given only to a chosen few, however, it should be noted that many claim to be able to project after taking a form of psychoactive drug such as LSD, ketamine, MDMA, orally consumed THC, and others…”
I stop writing. I don’t even feel like I wrote that. I don’t even feel. What the fuck is going on in my life anymore?
I feel like how I did when I was ten and all this shit… depression, anxiety… when it all first started. I shouldn’t feel this way on medication. Meds are supposed to make it stop.
But I don’t even feel depressed or anxious…I don’t feel like me anymore. It’s like something else is living through me and I can’t stop it.
I’m going to bed.
I’m in my room and once again, I’m out of my body. I am significantly less surprised this time, but a little miffed that paroxetine hasn’t stopped this. I am also upset that I’m outside of my body, but I don’t feel like going back in yet. Funny though. Even as I know I’m dreaming and asleep, I feel full of energy and life. I feel ready to take on life as it comes. I feel like me again.
“You know, I really do like this room.” She’s sitting on my bed, right beside my body.
That jolts me awake. I swear, there is heat right where she was sitting on my bed. She looked different. She was still in sweats, but she was tanner and fuller. She looked more alive, more real. Vibrant with life.
I pissed the bed again.
I look at myself in the mirror as I wait for my sheets to dry. I’m so pale, so skinny. There are dark, dark circles under my eyes. I’ve lost weight. I’m skeletal, dangerously anorexic looking.
For the first time in weeks, I feel something. Fear. I don’t know why this is happening again. I’m not relapsing, I’m not sick anymore. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t feel like me, I don’t look like me.
I want to cry, but I can’t. I go back to my room, leaving my sheets to finish drying.
I look up my symptoms with paroxetine and mirtazapine, but there’s nothing. The people on medication forums say I’m in relapse, but I’m not. I know what depression feels like, and this isn’t it. I hate myself, but I don’t feel like I’m not myself. I don’t feel like I’m changing. I close my laptop.
My thumb itches. It’s not red or anything, but I scratch it a few times and it’s not better. I dig at it with a pen, I push on it with an unfolded paper clip. Nothing. The itching won’t stop.
I know that in the theory of neuroplasticity, when you have an itch that seems without cause and won’t go away when you scratch it, you have to scratch somewhere else, because the parietal lobe sets up areas of stimulation in a line across the brain. Your face may be the actual place that’s itchy, but you’ll feel the itch on the palm of your hand, because the hand and the face are right next to each other in the parietal lobe. This is why some people, after having a limb amputated, can still sometimes feel a “phantom” limb.
So I scracth my face. Nothing. I scratch my leg. Nothing. I scratch everywhere. Nothing.
So I go back to digging at my thumb with my fingernails until’s raw and still itchy. The itch has gotten worse; I can’t think about anything else I can’t stop rubbing it oh god oh god how do i fucking make it stop please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please
I grab them, but I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I open the scissors, but I’m not doing it. I push and drag the edge of the blade across my thumb. I notice the dull sensation of skin tearing and opening, but I can’t control it. These actions aren’t mine. The scissors are put down. I feel like I’ve regained some control of myself, and my thumb doesn’t itch anymore.
A little pink line runs down my thumb. Clean. I stretch it open a little and blood starts to pool up and drip out. I wrap it in a SpongeBob band-aid.
I don’t want to feel like that ever again. I don’t want it. I can handle the sadness and the fear, but I can’t handle not feeling in control. I just can’t.
My roommate is still asleep. It’s 6:21 in the morning, I don’t blame him.
He’s snoring. Something, not from me, feels angered by this. It’s like a bubble deep inside of me that keeps growing and growing, and if it bursts, I’ll burst with it.
I don’t feel this anger. There’s someone else in the room with me, not my roommate.
No, she’s not in the room.
She’s in here.
“I love this room. It’s a shame we have to share it.”
I feel myself get out of the chair, but I don’t get up. I watch what used to be me walk over to my roommate and wrap my, her, its arms around my roommate’s neck.
He stops snoring.
I, she, it looks at me, still in the chair. These fucking medications.
These fucking medications.