Saturday, 2.11 am. Still and clear.
Before you come to bed the heating needs to be turned off.
Still and quiet. The window’s closed. It’s Saturday, well, Sunday now. Silence. The kind of silence you can hear when you listen. It whistles, it is almost unpleasant and makes you long for sounds, normalising sounds, wind and rain against the window, a washing machine spinning or the call of distant night animals.
Sunday, 20.25. In bed. Silence. Apart from the brown cat purring and kneading a soft blanket. Today has been a bad day. I have felt unwell. A malaise.
Tuesday, 1.03 am. I didn’t go to university today. I felt unwell, yesterday’s malaise. I got out of the shower and realised I hadn’t rinsed the conditioner from my hair or the soap from my face. At which point I felt I ought to go back to bed. But I didn’t. I tried to get some work done instead. I made coffee and ate a round of toast.
I’d had nightmares again and had slept badly. My nightmares always involve the same cast.
It is still again tonight. Light rain showers. I think I can hear the rain falling softly. The Local weather said it was going to warm up again on Friday. I can’t hear the rain just the stillness.
I’ve opened the window, it’s not raining. A car breaks the stillness. I can hear it moving further and further away. Silence. And then another car, this one’s heading away from the city. I hear it pass then nothing; it’s gone like a ghost. There’s a soft wind blowing through the red leaves of the blossom trees outside the window.
My mind is blank. I have no thoughts. I can only describe the events that are occurring. But being in bed at 1.28 am there isn’t much to describe. Here in this outlying suburb. With my head pointing towards the city and feet towards the moors.
The wind picks up. My watch ticks loudly. It’s a white swatch with black hands and numbers. There are small glow-in-the-dark rectangles on the ends of the minute and hour hands.
6.39 am. The rain is lashing down outside. The brown cat and the red cat are sitting next to me. I have just fed the red cat. The red cat woke me from an unpleasant dream.
I dreamed I went to a party which turned into a violent orgy. I walked about in a large garden looking for someone. Little children ran and played while the adults fucked; scary looking men attacked one another with beer bottles and threw balloons filled with piss. I went inside where a drunk woman was butchering Dusty’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, at which point I decided it was time to leave.
I walked around a car park, looking for a car. I cut through a tiny football ground where a child’s match was going on. Some men were fighting with one another, apparently, someone had let some West Bromwich Albion supporters in and they fought with Birmingham City fans.
I eventually got home. Home in this dream was large and open-plan with a teak staircase – very early 1970s suburbia. I poured a glass of Jim Beam and put a video on. It was a coming-of-age film which began with a sister and brother in an autumnal garden arguing about baseball and soccer. The girl leaves and there is a tight close up on the boy’s face as rests his head against a goalpost and looks into the distance, his eyes filled with sadness and disappointment.
Escitalopramic dreams: vivid and coherent.
So, I have dreamed of the same house three times now. It is not a house from my past. Nor is it a house I ever remember being in. The house is haunted. To get to the house I have to pass a railway station and it is located where my old high school used to be.
The withdrawal effects of the escitalopram have lessened over the last week. I still have the occasional brain shiver but my moods seem more balanced.
6.35 am. Grey morning: raining and humid.
Two thunderstorms have passed over this morning. Huge cracks of thunder, torrents of pissing rain but they haven’t cooled the air. The temperature remains resolute. My sinuses are blocked.
I dreamed of the flats I grew up in. I tried to get to the top floor to take photographs out of the window on the landing but I felt vertiginous and couldn’t let go of the handrail. The smell, the feel of the handrails: the smooth black plastic on twisted white metal, the echoing sound of my shoes on the hard marble-like floors were all painfully familiar.
I am underwater. I can feel my ears filling with water. I can hear my breathing. I am underwater. The bath water smells of cinnamon.
I am reading Joe Orton’s diary. Joe has just fucked someone in a derelict house. My generation fucked and sniffed poppers in partly built new build houses of expanding suburbia. We drank white cider, smoked and felt the fleeting warm buzz of amyl nitrite where the nouveau riche now live. But the houses were skeletal when we used them to escape the weather, do ouija boards, get high and talk about girls and bands, all away from the prying eyes of the locals. Furthermore, they provided shelter for 14, 15 and 16-year-old girls to give handjobs and blow jobs to 18, 19 and 20-year-old men with cars from the council estate next door. Well, that’s if the graffiti and playground rumours were to be believed.
I remember when Kris Akabusi came to our school. Me and six or seven others had forgotten our games kit. We were put in a large storeroom in the drama department. Throughout the morning we were visited by four or five teachers who told us we had shamed ourselves and the school. Funny, there were no troublemakers among us, we had all genuinely forgotten to bring out kit.
If that happened now, with social media, I imagine we would have been the victims and the school would have been shamed!
As punishment, we didn’t get to meet Kris Akabusi and be photographed with him. I did meet him, however, in the car park afterwards, I asked if thought we had shamed the school and he just smiled and laughed awkwardly, then drove away in a middling sports car while a bunch of knobheads yelled racist abuse at him. You could tell he wanted to drive over them but he just waved. He didn’t do that stupid fucking thing he used to do with his fist though.
Anyway, at lunchtime, Danni Forrest (not her real name) will wank you off for a £1 under the willow tree down by the river. And Vanessa Elms (not her real name) puts out on the first date.
Schooldays, fuck were they miserable!
Last night we went for a walk. We both saw a shooting star but at different times. I took photographs of suburban gardens at midnight. Everything was still except for us and the occasional taxi. Our world was lit silver by the moon.
Tonight, I stood outside looking for shooting stars, I saw two, both out of the corner of my eye. I would’ve liked to have seen more but there was a lot of light pollution and I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the park and besides it’s very creepy after dark with the strange disembodied sounds that travel across the landscape from the hills and distant moors.
The air had an autumnal chill.
I fell asleep before I could finish writing. I wish now I’d stayed outside longer now.
Yesterday, the one-day flower flowered. It breaks my heart every year. The flower that smiles today, tomorrow dies. Today, it is all shrivelled and my heart is broken. Even with the warm sun on the back of my neck.
I feel filled with this oddly muted anger. I feel angry about the situation, the decline in my mental health and failings that led to me being in this situation. It’s a long time since I have felt anger. It was something that was solved easily during therapy: once the anger was legitimised, it faded away.
I am not coping again. I keep trying to bring some sort of equilibrium to the situation but I just can’t seem to keep it together. It’s really frustrating. I feel like I did pre-therapy. The withdrawal effects of the escitalopram aren’t helping, I feel a lot of the mood issues can be attributed to them.
I just want to be asleep all of the time. Dreaming my life away, even the recent nightmares of being shot in the head and cannibalised feel preferable right now.
I hate fucking whining like this. I like to solve problems. It’s the not coping: when trying to come up with a plan, I quickly feel overwhelmed, even small steps feel too much.
Anyway, it’s 1.15 am. I’m lying in the dark. 1.25 am. Still lying in the dark. I’m going to get up and drink some water. 1.43 am. I’ve drunk some water and eaten a biscuit.
It’s really quiet tonight. I thought the window was closed. I have the fan on now.
I remember Coventry. I remember we passed through it when travelling across the country from Kent. I remember Coventry but I don’t remember it well. It exists as a few fading photographs my brain took as I looked for the floodlights of Highfield Road. (I had a habit of spotting football grounds on long journeys when I was young.) I don’t think I saw them, I suspect we didn’t pass close enough to the Hillfields area where the ground used to be.
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 close 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.
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.