2 am. Drunk on bourbon. In bed. The television is loud. I feel disoriented and strange. 2 am. 20°C. Summer. I am in limbo. I don’t know what to feel. How to feel.
I can hear the clouds moving across the night sky. Obscuring the stars. Obscuring the planets. Passing under satellites and other astronomical objects. I can feel their movement it comes in through the window and moves across my exposed face. It is cooling and soothing.
The television voice is loud. I don’t like it.
Thunder rolls. The sky is the colour of slate with a band of white where it meets the distant houses and trees.
When the rain has stopped I walk to the shop and buy a bottle of wine. On the way back the sun shines on the wet roads and pavements. My trainers shine so brightly they look like that ’80s music video. Each time I pass a puddle the reflection of the sun dazzles me. Clear sky above me now.
I have been cutting the escitalopram dose down for 5 days now. I would like to be able to function on the lowest dose by the time I restart university in September. I hope the reduced dose will combat a lot of cognitive difficulties I suffer with. Furthermore, the escitalopramic fog. Trouble is I am experiencing some mild side-effects from reducing the dose, sometimes, I feel a little disconnected and I’m getting brain shivers.
1.26 am. The whistling in my ears is unbearably loud.
11.01 am. Doctor’s surgery waiting room. The bus took ages. My head feels fuzzy. I have a dull headache. The world feels off today. The waiting room is warm and close. A man is debating with his toddler daughter whether seaweed is edible or not. She insists it’s not. But he explains it is and full of iron. She’s not convinced. She thinks daddy is being silly.
I feel strange: distant and disconnected. The flooring glitters, I’m not sure what the material is, something hard-wearing I suppose. My head thuds without much spirit.
The children in the waiting room all seem at ease. When I was young I always sat very still feeling very anxious. It all seemed very clinical, the tubal metal and wood chairs, the white tiled walls; my memory of it is a vast space of whiteness with rows of chairs laid out facing four doors which led to the doctors’ treatment rooms with a window-fronted reception between them. The receptionist would slide a glass panel (often brusquely) open to deal with patients. I think that this clinic has been demolished now. There was a pharmacy across the road with a large green tiled cross on the side, in the 1960s style. There were also public toilets near the entrance of the clinic and I hated passing them as they always reeked of urine, disinfectant and strange men.
11.32 am. Still waiting. The receptionist and a patient discuss the weather. It’s raining.
Drizzly grey Wednesday. Back from the doctors. I have just told you about my dream of being shot in the head so I won’t repeat it here.
The withdrawal effects of reducing escitalopram continue. Blankness and fog. My GP suggested I might be withdrawing too quickly, I think he is probably right.
The weather is depressing. Everything is fucking depressing. Grey. Grey. Grey.
Afternoons in the rain.
This is a boring letter. It just moves the story forward.
We have swapped sides on the bed. I now have the window which the cool air comes in through. But I also have the traffic noise, which I hate. I hate the sound of cars, of loud machinery, the whine of garden equipment.
The ambient hum, that’s OK. I remember when I would walk home from my ex-lover’s house I would cross a large field, a former airfield, which separated suburbia from industry. I would stop some nights on a rec and listen to the night: the hum and drone from the factory. The occasional clang of metal muffled by the hum. The sound of night creatures: birds, owls and foxes. I didn’t mind those night sounds. I enjoyed them.
David Lynch captured those sounds perfectly in Eraserhead.
3.06 pm. I have an earache. I’m lying in bed. My ears are protected by a pillow on one side and the duvet on the other. Before lying in bed I tried to listen to Chrysta Bell’s This Train but whatever is going wrong hearing is creating a filter where certain frequencies aren’t registering and bass notes buzz in my lower ear like a broken speaker; it was like listening through cheap earphones, a frustrating experience.
2.26 am. I’m in bed, the fan is on creating suitable white noise. I can hear imaginary cars driving past. My hearing is still off. The whistling is so loud it makes me feel nauseous. I’ll ask my GP about it next week.
It is now the next day, Saturday. And I am still writing this to you. I have just eaten a soft boiled egg and I am listening to Chrysta Bell’s This Train again. My hearing has improved but it is still strange. The whistling is still there, as loud as ever. I have the window open fully to cool the room but it is dripping rain water onto a tissue on my desk.
It’s 16.16 and it feels like it is going to rain. The sky, which is all I can see through my window, looks angry: many shades of grey, oil-painting style, across the heavens.
Today, I am flat. I am empty. A featureless blank sky would suit me better. There is distant hammering and even further away there is a cricket going on, I hear the crack of the ball hitting the bat and the occasional cheer. The wind is picking up and Chrysta Bell is singing “Somewhere in the Nowhere”.
I am going to go to the shop shortly to buy wine and beer. My head feels muffled, foggy. I hate this feeling. The room is cooling quickly.
They fuck you up, they may not mean to, but they do.
And you have to live with it every day. Whether they meant to or not, you still have to live with it.
Chrysta Bell sings “Kiss me again, I’m yours”.
When this record finishes I’ll go to the shop.
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.
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.
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!
So. This is what it has come to: in bed before 9 pm. The fragments lay scattered about. There is a deafening high-pitched sound. Ear-splitting. In the other room, an empty room, an awful sitcom is playing out.