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.
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.
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.