The Dark Pt. 3

I totally did not expect this topic to be a series. But then again, I didn’t expect to spend a week of my adult life being terrified of the dark. And counting.

Boyfriend arrived in town on Friday night, and as soon as he got here, I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever experienced. I’m still not quite sure what happened, but I think it had to do with finally leaving the perma-anxious fight-or-flight zone I’d been hanging out in for six days. The chills from the receding adrenaline swept over my body, and I shook violently for about an hour while fighting off waves of nausea. Lying beside me in bed, he turned to me and asked “Is that your heart pounding?” He could HEAR it. When I realized what was going on, I began practicing my deep-breathing techniques that I’ve used to ward off many a panic attack, and we both fell asleep not too long after that.

Saturday night we got dressed up and ate steak at one of the fanciest restaurants in Dallas. It was a lavish affair, complete with menu “presentations” and pauses between courses. By the time we finished our chocolate lava cake and got home, it was already ten o’clock. We tossed around the idea of watching a movie but instead crashed into a joint food coma and didn’t wake up until eight the next morning.

However, to my great chagrin, I was not able to convince him to stay forever. So Sarahthe, being the kind, thoughtful friend she is, swooped in last night to fill the right side of my bed in Boyfriend’s stead. I hadn’t had a night terror since I began the sage experiment, and things were looking up. The more disturbing scenes from Paranormal Activity have stopped playing in my head in an endless loop, for one. And I hadn’t really been alone long enough to think about being terrified, for two.

After I turned off the light last night and we settled under the covers, I recounted to her all the freaky things that have happened that I didn’t disclose on my blog.

Like how sometimes Rufus will sit on my bed and stare, transfixed, at a point above my bed where the wall meets the ceiling. I can’t see anything there no matter how hard I look, and when I ask him what he sees, he’ll break his gaze, look directly into my eyes, and then look pointedly at the exact same spot, as if to say, “You’re not seeing this?” The remarkableness of this might be wasted on my blog readers who’ve never met Rufus, but there’s something you should know about him: he has no attention span. He is not a dog who stares, not even at his most favorite thing in the whole wide world, bones.

Or how one night a few weeks ago I was in the bathtub when I heard a loud BANG in my apartment. I called to Rufus, and he jumped off my bed and ran into the bathroom. His smooshy, sleepy face revealed that he’d been there the whole time. When I got out of the bath, I walked into the kitchen and found the light fixture, which had been on top of the refrigerator because I need to buy a new washer for it, lying in the middle of the kitchen floor. No idea how or why it fell.

Sarah agreed, yeah, that last one is a little freaky. And we drifted off to sleep.

Maybe an hour later, I woke up sitting straight up in bed looking at the dresser and yelling, “WHAT IS THAT?” Next to me, Sarah kept crying “I don’t see anything! I don’t see anything!” I turned on the light and stared at the dresser until what I was seeing (a pile of clothes) made sense to me again. Sarah checked my pulse, presumably because I was gasping for breath. I was only half-awake as she did so, but I was curious to find out in the morning what she observed, as well as impressed that she had thought to do so.

This morning she got up early to get to the hospital, so we didn’t really talk. When I got to work, I texted her: “So. How much of last night’s events do you remember?” Her reply: “What are you talking about?”

See, Sarah suffers from sleep disorders too, though hers are very different from mine. It would seem that instead of being the peaceful presence she intended to be last night, our respective sleep disorders bandied off of each other. But honestly, I’m not surprised that she was asleep too. Because if there’s a better metaphor for our friendship than her checking my pulse in her sleep while I freak out in my sleep, I don’t know it.

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4 Responses to The Dark Pt. 3

  1. Well, first off, we have the panic disorder in common. And not the “OMG I totally had a panic attack when I thought I forgot my keys this morning LOL” kind of panic attack. So, exploding fistbump to you, girl. It fucking sucks.

    Secondly, the third from the last paragraph of this post sounds like something I’ve had for years and which becomes more frequent during times of high anxiety, and that’s hypnogogic hallucinations. Is that what it is? Do you know? You wake up, and you see something. It’s not a dream, you’re awake, and you see something with your two, very open eyes. Then, it kind of fizzles away as you realize that what you think you see is not what’s in front of you at all. “Stared at the dresser until what I was seeing made sense to me” sounds pretty familiar. (The other night I found myself trying to help a baby lamb down from the top of my bedroom bookshelf. After I lifted it down, I stared at it for a good 15 seconds before I saw that it was a stuffed animal.)

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this. I’ll read back some so I know what exactly I’m sorry about.

  2. Yep! That’s exactly what happens when I have a night terror. It’s more of a hallucination than a dream. I think the difference between what you’re describing and a night terror, though, is that the hallucinations I have are always of threatening or frightening things. I would love to hallucinate that a baby lamb is trapped in my room!

  3. I know, I’m pretty lucky. The worst I’ve ever had are spiders or beetles or sometimes a crow. And never with paralysis, which would be truly horrific.

  4. Sadie says:

    OMG! I am so happy to know the name of the weird half asleep hallucinations! I have them when I get really stressed out. They are frequently about bugs or spiders being in my bed and I will start frantically slapping to get the bugs off of me or to get away from the spiders and then in the next few minutes I will not be able to remember if it was real or not. The first one I had was in high school. I hallucinated that a lady in a green dress was sitting next to my bed and was talking to me. I went downstairs and told my dad someone was in my room…freaked him out a little.

    Anyway, thanks for the info!

    As for Rufus, I am apparently a glutton for punishment, because even though I know I have anxiety and don’t need any help freaking myself out about nothing, I can’t stop watching stupid ghost hunting shows. But I calm myself down by telling myself that if there was a ghost in my house that the cats would see it and would warn me before it got too scary.

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