Thursday. Yet another walk through the frost surrounded by the smell of docks and industry. My brain is reacting in a strange way now that I am another day removed from my lapse. Every small sound is loud and buzzing. The sun coming through my window carries an extra special warm haze that makes it look is if it were sent directly from heaven. This ride seems to be intensifying; I have put on some Slayer, a band I wouldn’t call slow, but they sound it. I know many songs are at least 200 beats-per-minute, but they sound like mid paced dirges. The words are warped and it sounds as if I can hear every noise coming from his mouth except for the actual words. A bubble is forming at the top corner of my door and is growing in size; I do my best to ignore it and stumble out of my room, come close to tripping over and stumbling down the stairs so I can smoke a cigarette.
I get a light from a person I cannot recognise, sit down and attempt to smoke my cigarette. The process seems to be going just fine, but I cannot feel anything entering or exiting my lungs as I inhale and exhale. The nicotine has also interacted with my brain in a way that I have never felt – I can feel my brain tingling – so much so that this sensation is drowning out whoever it is that is trying to speak to me. Somewhat alarmed, I finish my cigarette quickly with huge drags – easy since I can’t feel the smoke – and decide that inside is safer, and being around other people is clearly not going to work at this time.
With half my weight hanging off the side railing, I manage to pull myself up the stairs, which since the cigarette, has doubled in steepness. I crawl on my hands and knees for the final third of the steps. Finally reaching the top, I use all my strength to open the door to the shared lounge room. Unfortunately not the door I originally walked out of.
Suddenly, I’ve walked into a movie studio. What I am seeing now cannot be real. My head spins from wall to wall, the epilepsy twitching and sparking in rhythm to the flashing horizontal lights that line every wall. I look up to see what is causing this but lose the use of my legs as soon as I look up.
What appears to be an extremely large UFO has ripped the roof clean off and is lowering itself directly on top of me. I seem to be the target as it is hovering directly overhead me, so without the use of my legs, I crawl across the room to what looks like a blanket. I try and try but I can’t seem to use this as any sort of protection; I look closer and realise that I am trying to hide under a small beanbag and failing miserably.
I look up but need to shield my eyes from the fluorescent, white light that is now surging from the craft, crackling against the white lights I originally saw lining the wall. These are the visitors making their presence known, surely, but why so publicly?
Bright, white, glowing tentacles lash at me and I decide it is time to move. I go to stand but can still not use my legs and face-plant like a first-day skateboarder. I settle on crawling, dodging the tentacles while refusing to again look up. I am able to gradually make my way to the door on the other side of the room. It forms the beginning of the hallway where our cells are, and I feel a little safer. I use all my energy and use the side of a couch and the door knob to raise myself onto my feet.
Unable to stop myself, I take one last look back. The tentacles are withdrawing, but the light has increased and is now flashing incessantly; they are trying to trigger a seizure!!
“Not ME you fucking animals! Haaaa, haha, hahahaha!!!!”
I open the door to make my escape, but as I do for the first time I realise that two other residents are sitting in the shared lounge room and just saw everything.
“Mate… Are you alright?”
I scan the room and it is empty, ceiling fixtures back in their rightful position. The only noticeable effect from the experience is a messy looking room and a beanbag that looks like it has been inappropriately fondled with.
“I…. uh… I think I’m having an acid flashback?” is all I can manage as a satisfactory answer.
Unsure of anything other than the need for music, I manage to get onto my feet but stumble down the hallway, wobbling from left to right as I try to keep myself upright and on two feet using each wall of the corridor.
Making it to my room, I somehow still have my key on me and thunder inside, closing and locking my door immediately. I try to look for something that will calm me, usually Pink Floyd never fails. But again, the singing sounds alien, I cannot make out a single word and the music is slowing down and then speeding up, constantly but without rhythm. Again unable to make out any words, I turn the music off and crawl into my bed and hide underneath the covers.
Before doing so I decide that this is as good a time as any to take one of my medications that I am still prescribed but can’t actually use on a regular basis – Seroquel, or quetapine. I probably don’t take it often because it is meant for people with schizophrenia, which I do not have, but the past few minutes, or hours, have me reconsidering this. Without looking at the dosage, I pop a round orange pill out of its blister packaging and throw it down my gullet. I hope this has some sort effect; after all, it is an anti-psychotic drug.
It seems I have been spared the morning walk – word of my mental state no doubt spreading across the facility like filthy, viagra-powered rodents. The clock is telling me that it is past 5pm, meaning I have spent most of the day in a Seroquel induced coma. I certainly didn’t just sleep, as I feel like lying down again – I can barely keep my eyes open. A temporary coma would be closer to the truth.
I try to get out of bed but am still wobbly – though this time it is due to the Seroquel still most certainly doing its thang. I grab a cigarette and head outside to try and get my head straight.
This proves to be, again, impossible. In the most unpleasant way, I feel drunk. It has been so long since I took anything like Seroquel and my tolerance wasn’t ready for what was most probably a bigger 100mg tablet. I should really still be in bed, but I know it is dinner time soon, and given I have missed out on two compulsory group activities today, I’d rather a third not happen. But my head is spinning, as is the focus of my eyes. I can’t control them! They are lazily dragging my point of focus to the upper right, as if someone has control over my optic nerves and is having fun with me, constantly dragging a mouse pointer to the top right.
This leads to some very uncoordinated walking. So much so that Chris jumps up to help me into the main building, where dinner is indeed being served. I let Chris lead me towards the table he is sitting at and I slump onto a chair, as my eyes instantly close from the strain.
Chris has seen the pattern in my eating recently, and brings me a plate full of salad and fruit, perhaps the only food that could be uttered in the same paragraph as ‘fresh’. But it does taste good, and is certainly better than wrinkled hot dogs and micro-waved hamburger patties.
I begin to lazily stab at the lettuce with my fork, still struggling to control the focus of my eyesight. I give up and just close my eyes, giving into the Seroquel-haze. I am shaken awake by Chris asking me a question, though I think he can see that I did not hear a word of it. My eyelids fall again and the next thing I know, all the dinner plates have been cleared up, and Chris is telling me that we are going to the shared lounge to watch comedy.
Given what happened in that room today, if I wasn’t so chemically restrained I’d have disagreed intently. Instead, I mutter incoherently and follow Chris back to the second building.
I assume I was helped up the stairs because what I next recall is lying on top of the beanbag I had early tried to seek shelter inside, lazily sitting back trying to watch stand up comedy. Apparently this was my idea, but I soon pass out again and wake up to see only the television playing; everyone else has gone to bed.
I decipher the language on the television and find the power button, and decide it is probably best that I go to bed again. But before I do I decide that I’ll watch a movie on my new-found television and DVD player. In goes Full Metal Jacket, but my eyes are glued closed before the drill instructor has a chance to start barking obscenities at me.
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Wow. Your epilepsy combined with the hallucination of the UFO is powerful.
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Thanks Cindy! It was terrifying at the time but I can smile about it now years later. No denying though this was tough to get through, but extremely rewarding once I finished it. Revising it and adding more of what happened will be interesting, but first I need to get to the very end!!
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