I’m lying awake in bed, it’s pitch black, and my brain is in over drive
It happens from time to time. Some of the things I’ve experienced weigh on my mind and I have trouble trying to figure out what it all means, if it means anything at all. So I thought I would write it down. A friend of mine who unfortunately isn’t here anymore told me that when he put pen to paper about his emotions and experiences it helped him make sense of the inexplicable things in his life. This is what I’m going to try to do.
I had been drinking very excessively. It started, as most mistakes do with ignorance. I never understood how someone could become so dependent on a liquid, it just didn’t make any sense to me at all. I had, as with most of the population, given in to the misconceptions of alcoholism and it’s affects. I just thought “just stop, if it hurts don’t do it?”. But as I came to learn all too well that isn’t up to you if you reach a certain point.
I had begun not being able to sleep. That’s how it’s started for me. I would lie awake all night, anxiety coursing through my body, my brain rapidly shifting in all directions, depicting my worst fears possible, my worst memories and playing them on repeat in my head. The shaking was there, but the shaking had been there a while. Eating was becoming challenging.
I remember having a phone conversation with my sister, explaining how I couldn’t even keep down toast. Every time I ate, it was like my body and my brain rejected it. I would start violently shaking, I could feel my heart in my chest, pounding as if it was going to burst. My body worked so hard to digest food that it literally took everything out of me. After eating (if I could) a slice of toast I would rest for as much time as I possible.
By this time I was drinking up to 12 litres of cider a day. If I didn’t ingest alcohol within half an hour of the last drink I would start withdrawing. Unfortunately, after going to my local addiction help service and then swiftly to hospital,I grimly was told about my bodily dependence to alcohol. I had had a sleepless night, shaking so much from anxiety and withdrawal that I was panicking. I suffered seizures and had to be rushed to hospital by my gran.
At hospital they gave me some Librium and informed me of what was happening and sent me home. Being told that your body is dependent was at first a green light to drink to me. I was 22 years old and I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want reality, reality was boring and everything was better drunk.
After coming home from the hospital things became much worse over the weeks. I ate very rarely, my stomach expanded due to the alcohol I was consuming but everywhere else on my body, weight just fell off. I wasn’t sleeping, and if I did I would have to use zopiclone and a lot of drink to get an hour or so.
The day that changed a lot of things started pretty normal. I woke up at 5.30 in the morning, shaking so badly I could barely walk, downed a couple of pints of cider and retreated to the spare room our the house to sit and drink. It killed my family and friends seeing me this way and they have been the most supportive, loving people I have been lucky enough to have in my life, but by this stage it was dangerous for me NOT to drink due to withdrawal.
The day went on as normal, I drank around 8 litres of cider and by the time evening came I was still only half cut.
I lay in bed. Tingling , itching, and scratching. I assumed I had got bed bugs, as this is quite obviously that. I get up, strip my bed, go upstairs and tell my mum about it and change my sheets. The itching and tingling continued.
I try and ignore it as it must be just from our dog or something to do with that. I lay in bed trying to sleep with my fan on next to my bed, when suddenly I can hear singing. Not normal singing but the type of singing that I can only describe as Russian military singing.
Writing this and seeing it written down it seems mental, but unfortunately that was just the beginning of it. I tried my best to figure out where the singing was coming from, I thought it must be coming from outside or a phone somewhere or someone else in the house’s room.
It’s coming from my fan. I put my ear up to the fans blades as they spin round and the sound coming from it is military marching music.
I start to panic, I’m alone in my dark room and I start to panic more than I ever have in my entire life.
This isn’t normal? THIS ISNT NORMAL! Why can I hear that, this is not right. I run upstairs, knock on my mums bedroom door and ask her to come to my room to show her.
She hears nothing, and is quite obviously very confused and concerned. She tries to calm me down and sits on my bed while I am hyperventilating with my head in a pillow.
She tells me she will stay in my room, as I beg her not to leave, I’m terrified, I don’t know what is happening. I keep repeating to her “I’ve lost it, that’s it isn’t it? I’ve finally lost it?”.
She tells me it’s perfectly normal if I haven’t been sleeping enough, people hear things. This gives me some comfort but the anxiety and panic is still there, and so is the singing.
I turn off my fan, and lie in my bed as my mum sits next to me , calming me as I try to sleep.
I open and shut my eyes as I am lying on my back on me bed, and I can see streams of light, flowing through my room. Starting through my blinds, and floating around my room, extremely slowly.
I panic again and shut my eyes tight, telling my mum everything I’m seeing and hearing. The singing has returned, but this time it’s an ominous chant, the type of chant you would hear in the wicker man before a sacrifice scene, something out of a horror film. It’s coming from outside , but I cannot pin point where from, it sounds far away but getting closer.
I tell my mum all this and by this stage, I am bolt upright on my bed panicking. She leaves the room and tells me she will call the nhs helpline to see what to do.
But things by this point are rapidly accelerating. I can see out of my landing window, over 50 hooded figures with lit torches coming round the road next to my house, approaching my drive. I am running from the landing, to my mum, to the window, to my mum, to the kitchen.
I grab a knife from the kitchen side and I hold it with me near my front door. I look down at my hands and notice what looks like a silky substance is threading out of my finger tips. I have to look closely but I can see it, very fine, almost like looking at a silver thread, slowly coming out of my finger tips.
I start to think that something is now happening to my body. Is this linked? Am I hearing things and seeing lights in my room, feeling and seeing silver thread out of my fingers all linked to these hooded figures outside? Are they coming to the house to take me? Why can no one else see what I’m seeing, it’s clear as day?! As clear as my mum standing in front of me telling me There is nothing there. I can hear them knocking on the windows, I see shadows of hands on the front door glass. They are trying to get to me, all I can hear is their chanting and knocking on the window.
My mum tells me we are going for a drive “to get away from what is happening”. I am scared, more scared than ever but I agree and leave the front door with the knife.
They aren’t at the front door anymore, they are round the corner and I can see them coming round our road. I scream to my mum to get in the car and we begin to drive off.
I look at my hands and not only am I seeing the silver thread coming out of my fingers but I am seeing red marks, almost like messages forming on my palms. I rub them away and they come back, forming with the blood under my skin.
I look in the mirror and something is changing with my face, my eyes are changing colour, my teeth are being replaced by new straighter teeth and I can hear voices coming from somewhere I can’t see telling me that this is all to prepare me.
I don’t see them following us, I tell my mum and she tells me to please try and calm down.
We arrive at the hospital. I assume this is to help me get away from the figures who came to my house and to get me help with my body which by this stage is changing completely before my eyes. We wait for a long time, I go to the toilet and feel that something has happened to my urine. The same silvery thread that was coming out of my fingers is now coming out of my genitals.
I go out to the waiting area and tell my mum this new information. She tells me everything is going to be alright and to sit tight and wait. After we are seen me and my mum are taken to a separate waiting area beyond the front desk and asked to stay in there.
I’m assuming looking back this is because my behaviour had become extremely worrying.
My mum sits in with me worried sick, I’m pacing the room, talking to the voice that has been speaking to me since the car, telling me I can take one person with me away from Earth. I am in a state of panic, confusion and desperation. Trying to desperately explain to my mum the situation and that they will be coming to take us soon and she needs to be ready.
A doctor comes into the room and tries to speak to me but I am busy in the corner speaking to the voice. He sits and speaks to my mum.
My mum begs me to sit down, and says she needs to speak to me.
She tells me everything I’ve been experiencing is in my head, that she went along with it to keep me calm but, it is in my head.
I cannot even describe how it felt to hear that. My whole world crumbled around me and it left me feeling so scared and alone. All these things I’ve seen and heard, weren’t real. The things I’m continuing to hear is all in my head.
The doctor explains to me this is because of something called “delirium tremens” and I am having severe alcohol withdrawal.
I am taken through to a temporary ward where I am told to lay on a bed. My heartbeat is so fast I feel I could die. My mum doesn’t leave my side.
I stare at the ceiling and small cracks in the paint work are warping, contorting into fast paced cartoons dancing above me. Strange images of distorted small figures acting out nasty scenarios. Every piece of my being is screaming out, my body is shutting down. Im having audio hallucinations along with visual, and even closing my eyes does nothing to stop the nightmare.
I grip my mums hand as I lay on the hospital bed. I tell her I love her and I’m sorry, and that I’m scared, I don’t want to die, but if I do, I’m sorry.
She stays strong, tears rolling down her cheeks but a face filled with hope.
A doctor comes in after I am fitted with a cannula. My vitals are checked and my heart beat is high but they are going to keep me in for a detox.
This is music to my ears. Up until this point my life had been a living hell, waking up after an hours sleep a night, so weak and sick, shaking uncontrollably and not being able to walk properly until I inhale enough cider to keep my withdrawal at bay. Countless trips to the hospital, coming home, crying, throwing up bile every hour of the day, back crippled with pain from my kidneys, liver shutting down.
A hospital detox is not something they hand out, so I was very lucky to get the help. I cry with joy and sadness at the mess of where I am but the prospect of getting my life back again.
I am taken through to another bed, until I am taken to my ward.
My mum has gone to speak to the doctors, and I am alone.
I am seeing figures, outlines of silver, forming a body, walking in all directions around the corridors and coming towards my bed.
A cold, thin looking outline peers over me as I lie on my bed, I stare through it, towards the ceiling. This isn’t real, I’ve been told this isn’t real.
It seems to notice I am not giving it attention and moves away. This happens on and off for an hour. I occasionally talk to them, ask them why they are here, and they look at me so distantly, as if I’m not close but so far away. They sometimes reply, but what I hear is quieter than a whisper, they get frustrated and I can see the figures shouting, but it’s still just a whisper.
I am put into a wheelchair as I am now struggling to walk due to my shaking. The doctor accompanies us to the ward I will be staying in. As soon as I look in the room I see four dark, small demon looking creatures waiting for me. They are about a foot tall and are staring at me menacingly through the door. I explain to my mum and the doctor what I am seeing, what I am hearing, the doctor tells me firmly it isn’t real, there is nothing there. He strikes me as very irritated, (another alcoholic hallucinating , I have better things to be doing) is what I’m feel coming from his body language. He probably does have better things to be doing, and I feel ashamed, and so vulnerable I feel I could crack.
I am taken into the room where my mum shows me around, but I am trying hard to get rid of the things I can see. I look towards the door and I see a figure at the glass, dark, tall and menacing. He puts his thumb to his neck and draws it across his throat, staring at me with pure aggression and malice. I shout and scream and in that moment I feel scared for my life. This may not be real to anyone else, but to me, I can see and hear and feel these things and I am beside myself with desperation. I pull my cannula from my hand and shout that I need to leave, I cannot be here as these things will kill me. I haven’t slept in days, so sick and depraved of anything but acidic cider, burning my throat and guts everyday, I just can’t bare it any longer.
A doctor and two nurses fly into the room, talking to my mum and the doctor telling me to sit on the bed. I cannot think of anything but getting out of the room and into safety from these creatures that are haunting me. A needle enters my arm, the doctor is telling me to relax and to calm down. Everything goes black.
I wake up.
I don’t know what happened, everything feels brighter and out of focus.
My mum sits asleep in a chair to the left of me, as a nurse comes into my room, she stirs. It’s 6.30 am.
The nurse connects my cannula to a pabrinex bag that hangs just behind my head, and checks to see how I am feeling.
I say that that is the first time i have slept in weeks. She smiles and laughs.
She explains that what I was given was a strong sedative, as my hallucinations were causing me to loose control and upset other patients. I apologise for this and feel very ashamed. She tells me not to feel embarrassed, she gives me my dose of Librium and walks away.
In front of me sits on a tray, two slices of toast, a cup of coffee, some butter and a carton of orange juice.
I still can’t eat, I don’t feel like I can yet.
I still feel like I’m in a lucid dream.
Almost immediately the hallucinations start.
The dark creatures from the day before have dissipated, leaving different forms in their place.
What I now see is a small, excitable, child like man. He must be again, only around a foot tall, or less.
He flits from one place in the room to the other, laughing and giggling excitably. As I watch him dance around my room, I notice as he does, he is creating beautiful murals of intricate art work on my room wall. Pasted onto the wall in a scribbling motion, the images of large flowers, gigantic mouths of reddened alcoholic men guzzling comical amounts of beer with three x’s on the bottle, characters much like himself are dancing around in a circle holding hands, birds flying, music notes and the list goes on. It appears on the wall as art and as he stops, the art turns to cartoon, and life springs into each illustration like lightning. I lay on my bed watching the wall in marvel.
I ask who he is, this small strange character.
He looks and me, then in the blink of an eye appears sitting on the end of my bed. He calls himself “super Alex”, again, when spoken it sounds like a whisper, like someone has recorded themselves shouting then turned the volume right down. I struggle to hear and ask again, and it responds “I am super Alex” and it smiles, then disappears. I start scouting the room erratically for signs of him, but he is no where to be seen. The illustrations on the wall stay exactly where they are.
I don’t understand this? If this isn’t real, how can I take my eyes away from the wall, even close my eyes, and when I look again the exact images be there, exactly how they were.
It’s very confusing and makes me anxious.
My mum is awake by this point and looks slightly worried. I tell her what I have just seen, and that he called himself “super Alex”. I ask her, if this is a hallucination, why have I never in my life seen anything remotely like what I’m seeing?
She shrugs and tells me the mind is a incredible thing. She is right of course, who knows what goes through our minds.
I am starting to learn that the brain is a very sensitive thing.
My brother and sister come to visit me in hospital, they have always been incredibly supportive and they are over the moon I’m finally getting help. I explain that I’m feeling slightly better but still hallucinating. They bring me gifts and magazines to keep me busy, and sit with me while they talk to my mum about what’s happened.
I just feel exhausted. Every piece of me is aching. My lower back is in excruciating pain, I have a scan today to see if there is damage to my liver. The doctor Came and visited me again to inform me of this.
He has a very no nonsense way of explaining things to me, tough love my mum calls it. I am scared and anxious and i can’t take his harsh comments about my recklessness.
He prods my stomach and tells me it was a very close call, and that I need to stop now as I was very lucky to survive this.
I begin to cry when he leaves the room. Helpless, ashamed and weak, I lie in bed in tears with my mum by my side.
Night comes around fast.
As fast as the hallucinations go, they come. I am engulfed at night time by dark imps, small creature that crawl around my room, hissing, biting me, whispering terrifying threats that only I can hear.
I feel the pain on my skin when the bite. I do not know how this is possible, maybe because my brain believes it to be real, it is sending signals to my pain receptors that this is happening.
I am frantic once more. I pace the room, trying to stamp on these strange spectres, but every time I come close to thinking I’ve made one disappear, they appear again. The figure is outside my door again. Eyes glowing, thumb drawing itself across its throat, every time out gaze meets.
The nighttime is the hardest. It brings with it not only the darkness in light, but the darkness in my mind. Things that Only live in my nightmares are now visible, prowling the corridors in packs, or lone spectres, looking lost and scared, looking to me for answers that I can’t give.
The nurse is called into my room where she witnesses me trying to stamp on the things I’m seeing. She explains they need to up my Librium dose, which will help with the hallucinations. She gives me some medication for my anxiety and after ten minutes I feel myself calming down.
My mum stays with me, holding my hand and telling me things will be okay.
I lay awake, in a trance of anxiety and numbness. I feel the weight of something at the end of my hospital bed, and look down to find he is there. “Super Alex” sits staring and smiling at me, he winks and tells me he is sorry he left. I ask him where he went, he replies “you can’t know that, you wouldn’t understand”. I find this confusing but don’t ask again, as I am not sure I want to know the answer. He continues doing the illustrations I witnessed earlier again on the wall.
He stops, and I seen him sway over to the corner of the room and begin to cry.
I ask him why he is crying, he doesn’t respond.
I begin to get anxious and upset and ask him Over and over why he is upset.
He shouts back, but I can barely hear what he responds. “I killed her, it wasn’t my fault”.
I ask him to come towards me, I can’t hear what he is saying. He sits on my bed in tears, the tears sprout from his eyes and fly off his face as if they were drawn from a cartoon.
I ask him what he means, I ask a few times, he seems inconsolable, as if something dark has come over him and he cannot break free of it.
He turns to me and says “I can show you”.
When he says this, I don’t remember or know how, but I’m looking at a completely different surrounding. As if him saying that triggered it, I am standing in a small room, dark with faint lamps lit in the corner. Two figures are in a bed, having sex. I can’t see who they are but they are the same sort of height as “super Alex”. Now I think of it everything in this room is to scale of his frame. There is a bathroom door to the left of me, and I am standing in the bedroom. I hear banging on what appears to be the front door, which is to the left of the bed. The two figures In bed begin to panic, I still can’t see their faces.
A small person crashes through the front door, and advances on the two in bed.
He begins to viciously swipe and stab at the covers, with an extremely large knife. This continues for around 5 minutes, stabbing, screaming, stabbing, crying. It then stops.
I can hear sobbing, so faint as if it’s coming from a child. The person standing over the bed is crying, head in his hands, blood all over his face and torso.
He turns to me and advances on the bathroom door.
I recognise his face. It is “super Alex” , his face is dark and blood stained. He rushes into the bathroom and locks the door. I hear crying, very faint again, coming from the inside of the bathroom. He is pleading, asking for help from someone. He tells himself he didn’t mean it, he loved her. He tells himself he doesn’t want to be here anymore and screams in such a way I feel his emotional pain.
I hear a gun shot.
As if hit by lightening I am snapped out of it. I am standing by my bathroom door in my hospital room, my mum standing by my bed asking me what I’m doing, who I’m talking to. I break down in tears and tell her what I’ve just seen, what just happened.
I am emotionally exhausted. I don’t know what’s real anymore, I am trapped in the nightmare world that I just cannot wake from, around every corner is something disturbing.
I lie down in bed and close my eyes. The nurse comes in and fixes a new bag of pabrinex to my cannula, gives me a high dose of librium with a sedative. I fall asleep.
I wake around 5 am, mouth dry and bed soaked in sweat. I’m trembling and feel panic. I call for a nurse and she comes in and tells me I snored a lot in my sleep. I laugh and tell her she isn’t the first to notice this. I receive my dose of Librium and anti anxiety medication and the nurse connects a fresh pabrinex bag.
My mum rouses from her sleep and looks at me and smiles. She asks me how I’m feeling and I respond anxious.
Today I’m going to try and go for a cigarette if I feel strong enough. I haven’t smoked since I came in and I am itching for a drag.
I am able to stomach some coffee and eat a slice of toast with butter on it. As soon as the swallow the drink I feel it burn in my chest and I like the feeling. The same feeling I used to get when I drank whiskey. That burning feeling makes me feel warm and calm, it hurts but feels good. The food makes me feel sick. I stopped eating for a while before hospital, every time I ate I threw it up so I became very anxious of ingesting any food.
I keep the food down, and I turn on the tv.
Fraser is on, a show that reminds me of being 13 and waking up for my paper round. It was always so early that these re-runs were all I would watch before heading out.
It’s hard to write about the day time events of being in hospital. Not much happens I suppose.
My back is aching from the damage I’ve inflicted on myself with alcohol, and I am always tired. The rest of my family turn up, and sit with me while I lie in my bed. I tell them about all the strange things I’m seeing and feel like it won’t go, like I’m stuck in this nightmare forever.
They tell me how proud of me they are and how well I’m doing, and to look forward to my life without pain when I leave.
I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people around me. My sister and I have never really gotten on, and she’s been amazing since I’ve been ill. They leave when it gets dark, but my mum stays, as she always has done.
I want a cigarette, I want a cigarette so badly that the thought of it makes my heart race, like water to a stranded person in a desert. I ask my mum to help me get to the smoking area. She is very wary of me smoking, but can see I want it very much.
On the way down to the smoking area, things start happening.
I have been in my room for a couple of days now so I haven’t seen much apart from the four walls I’ve been laying in.
I see people. So many different people. Some walking, some talking, some standing, staring into space, clutching the wall the lean upon. I feel calm, I don’t feel scared like I have done before. I feel at peace. Like this is okay, like I shouldn’t be seeing this but it’s okay that I am.
These people aren’t dark figures, they aren’t threatening. They are lost, every single one of them. They have the same silver outline in their features as the others, but I can see them much more clearly.
I know No one else can see what I can see. I walk down the steps towards the main corridor and a old woman, frail, looking sad and confused, grips the wall on her own, as if not knowing where to go.
I walk by her and I give her a acknowledging smile, and say hello.
She mutters something I can’t hear, again, like a whisper. she stares up at me, eyes electric, and cries. She is smiling, and cries as if in appreciation. As though no one has seen her in years. Her hand raised in a subtle wave as I continue down the stairs.
We reach the corridor and I walk down, slowly. Taking in everything that I am seeing.
This feels different? This doesn’t feel like the hallucinations I’ve been seeing, this just feels comforting and incredible.
They walk past me, staring. Standing and staring. Some whispering to each other, whilst looking at me with wide eyes. I nod, I wave, I acknowledge their stares.
I tell my mum what I am seeing. I tell her this is amazing, this is something that I have never in my life witnessed before and I feel so strange.
A figure is walking down the corridor towards me, very fast and looking agitated.
He is a tall, well dressed black man. He is wearing clothes that look relatively modern, and a cap. He approaches me, walking fast, speaking under his breath. Panicked words escape, I can’t make them out but they are said angrily and quick. He holds my stare as he walks inches from my face, I knod again.
“HE CAN SEE US!!!”.
It scares me, the volume of the shout and the instant turning of heads.
“HE CAN SEE US!! HE CAN SEE US!!” The man is screaming this out, over and over behind me as I walk.
As I approach the end of the corridor, the people are turning and approaching me, trying to speak but their words are lost in the whisper.
They are now following me.
I ask my mum if she can see or hear anything, she tells me she can’t obviously.
I walk outside and light my cigarette. The feeling of smoke hitting the back of my throat feels so good. I stand there and feel the rush of lightheaded ness fill my vision. I stand, shaking. Feeling the relief of the nicotine.
I perch down, leaning against the wall of the smoking area and shut my eyes.
I can hear the whispering still. I turn to my right and see a middle aged woman, sat down on the wall cradling her arms.
She is like the others. She looks at me with such sadness in her eyes. I approach her and I ask her what is the matter.
She is in such sadness and it’s like I can feel it, as if it’s coming from her. She whispers something through tears.
I bend down and I try to listen. It’s too loud out here to hear anything. My mum tells me people are staring. I stop trying to listen and try to touch her back, to give some comfort. When I stretch out my hand the figure of the woman dissipates and warps.
She comes back into view and stands up, still cradling her arms.
I tell my mum I’m ready to go back upstairs. We begin walking and I notice she is following me, the woman on the wall.
The others inside the hospital seem to notice her following me and allow space for her steps.
I am up the stairs now and she is still behind me.
We arrive in my room, I lay down. I see the figure of the woman walk into my room, and cautiously sit down on the chair next to my bed.
She sits cradling her arms, and I look to see what is there. There is a bundle. I never see the face of what is inside the bundle. But it seems to be a baby. She is crying, inconsolable, tears like drops of blue ice falling from her florescent eyes.
I ask her to tell me why she is crying. I feel her pain and it is choking me.
She reaches out and rests her hand on mine.
I feel immediate cold on my skin. Like a glove that’s been sitting in the freezer has just been placed on my hand.
I feel the same feeling I did with “super Alex” in my room.
I am not in my room anymore. I am in a older hospital, what feels like mid 90’s, a woman lying in bed, scared, alone.
She is shaking, she has no one there for her and she is terrified. She cradles a baby in her arms and cries out. She screams and shouts, pleading with whoever will listen.
Blood soaks the bed beneath her legs and doctors rush around her and take the baby from her arms.
She writhes in desperation and cries out for her baby. Doctors hold her, trying to calm her down, telling her they need to operate, she has lost too much blood.
The baby has not survived. She fades into a blur, the doctors and the hospital room fade from view and I am back in my bed, cold hand placed on mine, tears in my eyes.
I have seen her pain, somehow I have witnessed her last moments. She nods her head, smiling through tears. I feel such empathy, such pain.
She gets up, stands by my bed for a minute or two and slowly, backs out of the room.
I don’t see her for the rest of my time in hospital, but I will always remember that encounter. Whatever I am seeing, I am told it isn’t real, which of course I understand. But, it is real to me. I am left emotional and filled with questions.
I cry in my bed and explain to my mum what I have seen, she comforts me and tells me to rest.
I shut my eyes and wait for sleep to come.