The anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film

Yesterday, I was thinking about the dream I’d had a few nights ago of being shot in the head.

I was in Mallorca involved in some sort of espionage. I was shot by a man in civilian clothing while a man wearing an army uniform watched on. They were on opposite sides. I was slumped against a wall watching an exchange between them. After the men had left in separate vehicles, I managed to get to my feet, seemingly undead and entered a bar where I received help. I was taken in a taxi to the place I was staying, a disused farmhouse and I collected together my belongings.

At some point, I was transported to London. I found myself disoriented in an underground shopping arcade. People looked at me strangely and I had persistent pain on the side of my head where I had been shot. I wore a tailored grey suit and a black raincoat but I felt out of time from the people around me. Disoriented, I felt I needed to get to Euston station. I searched for landmarks I recognised but the landscape shifted continuously. At one point I was near the Barbican but couldn’t get near to it because I was frightened of the towers.

I managed to find my way to high ground. To the south, London stretched out below me and to the north, I could see Sheffield in the distance. I sat down on a bench feeling defeated. I don’t remember anything after that.

I don’t think there is anything to understand from this. The only reason it received more thought than any other dream is the fact I was shot in the head and this the only time I can remember this happening.

My escitalopramic dreams are often coherent, very vivid and absurd. Sometimes even the anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film. The nightmares can be rough, though.

5.51 am. A soft rain is falling sending icy air in through the window. The light is grey. The occasional car passes. I want to be asleep. The brown cat is restless.

I should give in and get up. I’ve been lying here awake for over an hour now.

I should have got up! I fell asleep and dreamed I was cannibalised! First time for that too!

Rainy day. Rainy night. Hardly seems like August. Although, for a change, the dreary weather hasn’t left me depressed more indifferent. Is that an improvement?

Blue morning. 5.53 am. I can’t hear the rain, just your breathing. The light is bluey through the curtains. I can hear the rain now on the window. Another rainy day ahead.

Should I get up? Make a cup of tea and some toast. Or should I try and fall asleep?

6.06 am. Simon’s sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee. It’s another night he hasn’t slept. Outside his fourth floor flat, the landscape is brightening, it is raining and the light is grey. He swallows the rest of coffee. The world is waking up and strangely he feels less alone. He looks out at the rain, the distant hills and cars heading towards town. He goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth. He gets into bed. He knows he’ll wake up at midday feeling awful but there is something about this time just before falling asleep when everything feels like it’ll be all right.

I am sitting on the edge of the bed in the inky dark

As human beings, we need pillows to support our necks. In the evening the sun shines. In the day the sky is grey.

I am the person at the window. I am the one watching. I only watch. I cannot keep them from trouble. I only watch.

The warmth rises. It fills the space. It blocks your nose. It blocks your ears. It disorientates your senses. Where am I? Where is this? What are those flashing lights?

Trouble is, we forget. Who is bad. You see. We forget.

So I have been asleep for a few hours since I started writing to you. It is now almost midnight. I don’t know what I have written before this. (What I write as I am falling asleep is usually nonsense!) I only know what I am writing now.

The room is dark. Except for the light from my phone and the display on the tower fan which says 22°C. The world is still. Right now. I think the window is closed. You are in the bathroom.

I dreamt of the same house twice. First, last night then again tonight. But I can’t remember my dream from tonight, except I was back in that house.

A car drives past breaking the silence.

Now, it is just the ringing in my ears again. The constant high-pitched ringing. Ringing is wrong. It sounds like a continuous flow of sound. Whistling. Yes, whistling is better.

Midnight. 12.00 am. Zero hour.

It is now tomorrow. It is now today.

The sound in my ears is making me feel nauseous.

I am sitting on the edge of the bed in the inky dark. My sinuses are blocked. My face is lit by my phone I can see it out of the corner of my eye reflected in the mirror.

I am sitting in the living room now. You have headphones over your ears and you are playing a game. The hum in the living room competes with the whistling in my ears.

It’s now after two. You are brushing your teeth and I am lying on top of the candlewick bedspread with the red cat. The light is on. It is very late. No sounds outside just the constant whistling in my ears.

2.30 am. Upstairs with a glass of Laphroaig. I have to go to the doctor’s surgery first thing tomorrow to pick up the letter from my GP. I am going to be very tired.

In bed. 4.10 am. Not tired. Headache. Escitalopram yawns. It is very quiet and still. Very pleasant. Just your breathing and the whistling. There is cool air coming in through the window. I can feel it on the back of my neck. I keep clenching my jaw, another escitalopram side-effect. Why am I suddenly getting side-effects after a year?

The brown cat is somewhere in the room I can hear her bell. A car passes heading towards town. The world will be waking up soon but I don’t want to think that. Because I want to sleep.

I am clenching my jaw again. It is making my headache worse. I hope it’s sunny in the morning when I walk over to the doctors. Nice dry heat and the sun on my face.

I ought to try and fall asleep. Maybe I’ll read for a while. My moon is upstairs, charging. I put the potatoes away in the fridge if you are looking for them.

Cath can’t sleep. She is sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of milky tea. Outside the window, she can hear the papers being delivered to the local shop. She swallows the last of her tea. The papers have been the delivered and the van has driven away. The world is still again. She goes to the bathroom, urinates, washes her hands and swallows an Ambien with a handful of water from the tap. She goes back to the kitchen eats a biscuit from the tin. Turns out the lights and goes to bed.

The light is dull this afternoon

The light is dull this afternoon. The right side of my face is still congested and my hearing is still wrong. When I close my eyes I can see my face as it would be in an advert for a decongestant formula. Sounds are muffled. I have a headache.

It is humid. Overcast. The low pressure is affecting my mood. Both cats are lying with me on the bed.

Ever since I can remember I have never liked loud sounds. Sounds that I don’t just hear but also feel. One of my autistic traits.

These are the summer days we forget. Dull flat light. Grey. Overcast. Humid. Low pressure that you can feel in your sinuses, dulling your senses. Brain fog. Lethargy. You can feel days such as these all over you, like stale sweat which won’t evaporate in the humidity.

Shadowless summers.

I don’t mind the heat. Once I am acclimatised. It’s these days of uninteresting light. Of lethargy. Muffled flat sounds which travel lazily through the windows to my ears, like even sound waves can’t be bothered to move through the humid air. Where nothing seems to lift my mood and my head feels foggy.

Yesterday I felt empty. Today I feel full.

I have moved to other side of the flat. Here there is cool air coming in through the window. There is distant bird song punctuated by the drone and whine of garden machinery.

The red cat has joined me and he is sprawled out messily, as is his style, on the sewing box next to my chair.

My head throbs.

The wind picks up. The curtains blow. The cool air circulates the room. The ceiling light moves back and forth. The red cat stirs and mews. The distant sound of children leaving school. Hans-Joachim Roedelius’s Wenn Der Südwind Weht plays quietly.

The sky is grey.

My hearing is still strange.

I need to finish writing an e-mail. But the words won’t come. They are jumbled and distant. Always just out of reach. When I do manage to send them to my fingertips they either disappear or they all want to be typed at once.

Syntax error.

Syntax error.

The squeal from the gate next door splits my brain in two.

The sky is white.

Put some fucking water displacement 40th formula on your fucking gate! Jesus!

My head lies on my desk in two pieces. The cool air blows over my exposed brain split perfectly through the corpus callosum. Eno’s Thursday Afternoon plays.

Like a ghost or a tourist

Gerald Parker was up, dressed and had breakfasted on what was left of last night’s take-away pizza washing it down with a nearly full glass of red wine he’d found on the living room table. The girl he’d brought home last night had left an hour ago, Katy? Kat? Well… The sex had been all right anyway but Gerald doubted he’d see her again; they had little in common, the small talk, while they picked at the pizza, had been awkward, so the sex was a relief, like a deep breath at the end of a tense situation.

Gerald went to the kitchen and started brewing a cup of tea. He tried to remember to girl’s name, why had he not asked her again? Perhaps because didn’t particularly care. Anyway, he sure it began with a k or a hard c. Kat seemed right, she had a vampish look: black hair, bronzed skin and immaculate make-up, highlighted with silvery tones around her temples and cheekbones. Kat suited her.

I keep falling asleep. Just for a second. It feels like a pleasant morning there is cool air coming in through the open window.

My eyes are getting heavy again, I’m going to nod off again any second. There. I blink myself back into wakefulness. It’s such an odd feeling to be falling asleep while doing something, those strange sensations in your head, a sort of shushing feeling behind your ears and temples, as you start to cross over from being awake to being asleep. Those hypnagogic dreams which incorporate what you happen to be doing at the time. Usually, in my case, reading. What I’m reading takes a surreal twist and often I actively realise I’m dreaming and I shake myself back into wakefulness, I do this when I’m nearing the end of a chapter and I’m determined to finish it. Usually though I have to give up put my bookmark in and place the book back on the table next to bed. Sometimes though, while in a hypnagogic state I just succumb to sleep. Losing my place is tomorrow’s concern.

There is a coolness in the room but even now you get a sense it’s going to be a hot day. I might go into town. I need to buy some beer and wine.

Outside a man has just shouted a cheery hello and a woman responded, almost guiltily, with, I’ve just brought some milk. You could sense the man’s bemusement from here. They both laughed awkwardly.

Yesterday, when I went into my exam the girl invigilating said, you’re Sébastien? I said yes and she took me to my seat. To the boy who came in after me she said, what’s your name please? I sat there wondering how she knew who I was. This happens a lot. And it bothers me, see I like to think that I am anonymous and drift around unnoticed like a ghost or a tourist. Distant. Disconnected. So when people I don’t know or have had little or no contact with know me, well, it always makes me feel kind of strange and puzzled.

The girl sitting across from me on the train yesterday was the influence for Katy/Kat. She was about 20 and looked like she worked on a cosmetics counter in Boots. Her makeup was perfect, with what I now know is called strobing around her cheekbones and temples. Though, her makeup was not like those cosmetic counter girls we saw Boots a while back who looked they were wearing masks because their makeup ended quite distinctly under their chins.

Time to get up.

Nothing goes with bruise-grey

Early evening and I’m lying in bed. Between the duvet and the mattress and the sheets that protect them. I still haven’t finished my application for extenuating circumstances. I’m finding it really difficult. I wanted to take in tomorrow then send the letter from the Doctor later in the week.

It is filling me with disappointments. I’m disappointed with myself. I handled the situation so badly. Now I’ve fucked myself. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Maybe I should just answer everything on the form with the word stupid.

The man next door is urinating.

It is warm today. If it has been sunny I wouldn’t know because my curtains have been drawn. I am so anxious that sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. My head is full of fog.

A dog is barking. What’s up, dog? What’s upset you? The pharmacy will be closing up soon. The staff will be saying their goodbyes on the doorstep and laughing and joking in carefree manner. I wonder if any of them go home to despair.

Life is so wonderful, there is so much. And it feels absurd to be held back all the time by these psychological constraints. I despair, I really do despair. Why can’t I do life. Why can’t I just be normal.

Click goes one door, slam goes the other. Tick tick tick goes the watch. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Heels on tarmac. Tyres on tarmac. 22°C. Tick tick tick.

Cheryl’s at the fridge with fork eating some left over egg mayonnaise. She’s thinking about Andy in the warehouse, I mean he’s a bit of a rogue and a scrubber but you know she’ll be leaving in a few weeks if Joe gets the job in Leicester. Why not.

Goodnight, pharmacy staff. See you tomorrow. I hope you all have good evenings. It’s Monday, that programme you like is on, you know the one with Brian Michaels and Charlotte Morris. Yes, see you tomorrow.

Four walls.

A picture.

The walls are painted bruise-grey.

Can I recover?

The cars are noisy. The people are noisy. Bruise-grey walls, 22°C. Stinging in the cheeks. Blue. A lot of blue. Nothing goes with bruise-grey except maybe rich purple and dark green. Also all the other shades of a big purple bruise. Did he hit you again? Except bruise-yellow. Well, you will stay with him.

The curtains tell me it’s light outside but not whether it is sunny or overcast. My bladder tells be to relieve it. My heart tells me to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.

You get the idea.

A lot of blue.

Warm air.

Crinkle crinkle.

The sound of cars. Fuck off. I don’t like your sound.

Lorraine locks the car door and leans against it. She sighs. She wants to go to bed. She doesn’t want to cook Dom’s evening meal for him. Dom’s a prick. Why did she marry him? She has wasted her life. It’s all right. She’ll cry into the onions then serve him his spag bol. Smiling and listening while he makes sounds from his stupid fucking face.

Oh, Lorraine.

22°C. Bruise-grey walls.

A lot of other cars have driven past since

So, I’m here in bed again and you’re up despite being tired watching telly at a disturbing volume.

Come to bed. Close your eyes. Think of blue. If you’re struggling think of a delphinium. If you’re ready, you’ll sleep. If you’re not, get up, do something else.

It’s cooler tonight. A car passes by. Our hero is driving home to his wife, Louise who is waiting up with a copy of the Observer supplement and a cup of tea. She’ll offer to make him a sandwich, what would he like? We’ve got last night’s prawns with some mayo, or some sliced silverside beef, or just some cheese. If you want I can do cheese on toast. he says, no, I already ate, I’ll just have a beer, it’s all right I’ll get it, long day, hon? But Louise knows less than a hour ago he was sleeping with Jane, her sister. But what can she say? She doesn’t want to lose him or the new build house in a good catchment area. Maybe on Monday she’ll let Martin fuck her in the toilet of the Fox and Pheasant after work.

A lot of other cars have driven past since. I hope they’re heading home to lives more mundane that Louise’s.