Stranger – Chapter 1 – The endless mind games

I guess all children have nightmares from time to time. The young creative mind that never really wants to sleep. Some children even walk in their sleep, but usually the sleepwalking wears off a few years before the child hits puberty (Or so I’ve read). But for some, it sticks. For me it did, and I’ve sort of gotten used to it I guess. I’d run up and down the stairs in my sleep when I lived with my parents (probably scaring them in the process, although they also got used to it eventually). My subconscious me (Let’s call him Stranger for no apparent reason), would swear and mumble at my parents when they told “him” to go back to sleep. Sometimes it wasn’t Stranger doing the mumbling however. Sometimes it would be me, too ashamed to admit that I was actually awake, and talk to them about it. That’s a funny thing, that eventually became a problem for me. That sometimes I would tell them that I was actually awake, usually because of panic when I came out of a horrible nightmare mixed with sleepwalking. Or I guess it was more like sleeprunning sometimes. You see, one time the plushies in my bed had turned into angry and hungry ferrets and chased me around the house, in the darkness, while in my underwear (I was wearing my underwear, the ferrets were not).

The actual problem presented itself when Stranger started taking note of all this. He’s a quick learner you see. So eventually he also started to tell my parents that he was, in fact, awake (Which, since we’ve made a character out of him now, would make sense. The problem was that I was not). Of course they noticed this. “I’m awake! I’m awake!” – He would scream, “Just please get these ferrets off me! They’re eating all the pastries!” – He continued, less convincing.

Of course Stranger wasn’t always that bad at it. Sometimes he would sound just like me. Which made it difficult for me to actually convince people that I was awake. Over the years I’ve even had to convince myself sometimes. You see, when Stranger is in control, I can see everything he does. It feels like I’m there, but I can’t control or do anything about it. I usually remember everything the following morning (Which is very different to how people usually remember their dreams, which is normally that they don’t), but I’m very often not sure if I was awake at any time of the night. My usual routine after an adventure with Stranger, is to go to the kitchen and drink some water.

I have allergies, which blocks my nose 23/7, and makes me wake up sometimes. The allergies (Mite poop if you’re wondering) also makes my throat slightly swollen sometimes, which I think adds to the effect. When I wake up because of it, it’s usually because I feel like I can’t breathe, or that I feel like I’m about to swallow something too big or simply something that you shouldn’t swallow (like a coin or my necklace). In an attempt to ease all this, I now have a bottle of water next to my bed at all times. I also have a notebook there so I can write down my thoughts whenever I need to. Like now. This makes things slightly easier, as I don’t have to run out of the bedroom for water or to write something down before I forget it.

I’m a very driven person, and I try to handle all my problems with realistic and doable solutions. But, when a problem arises that has to be solved, but there is no working solution in sight. No quick win. What does one do? Personally I left the problem with sleepwalking and terrible nightmares for a few years. My “solution” at the time was simply to learn how to live with it and accept it. If I woke up in the hallway of my student apartment, then all I could do was to simply sit down slowly in the darkness, find the floor and my feet, and then start feeling my way around to deal with the sudden disorientation that arises when you wake up from a wild nightmare mixed with sleepwalking. I would usually reach out around me to find something to grab on to, like a table or something. This was simply to figure out where I was, since when you’re newly awake from this experience, your brain doesn’t quite handle realistic thinking, and for all I know I could be in a dungeon under Hogwarts. Most of the times I would find myself in the hallway or the kitchen however. I usually end up in the kitchen because my first instinct is to drink something, and the hallway is on the way to the kitchen so sometimes I wake up on the way there.

Recently, however, I’ve seen a more clear pattern. I seem to end up in the kitchen when I think I’m swallowing something, and in the hallway when I’m running from something scary. Although, the kitchen trip has now been replaced with sitting up in my bed and quickly drinking the water from the bottle. I have to refill this bottle daily since I drink so much during the night. When I wake up and can’t breathe, I will usually sit up on the side of the bed and hold my hand against my chest, and then take deep deep breathes and calm myself. Of course, Strange thinks my problem solving personality is no fun, so he has recently decided that we need fresh air instead to spice things up. Our bedroom is adjacent to the balcony (Big spacious balcony with windows around it, so not so dangerous as it sounds, yet), and so Stranger likes to open the door to it, and step out on the balcony.

All of this has been relatively manageable throughout the years. I’ve never really hurt anyone except for myself while sleepwalking (Stranger sometimes crawls around on the floor, looking for treasure or avoiding grenades being thrown at him. This of course damages my/our knees a lot). But, eventually I met the love of my life, whom I managed to convince to marry me. Life in general is excellent and we couldn’t be happier. But now we are two people in the bedroom all of a sudden, and Stranger can’t seem to see her. He even stepped over her once (ouch!). He can hear her, but he doesn’t seem to notice her presence until she actually speaks.

I have these bursts of creativity. Periods of time in my life when all these really weird thoughts start flowing into my head. That sounds normal, right? Everyone probably has that from time to time. Except it wont stop. It keep filling my head, and everything seem so important that eventually all I feel like doing is writing it down. Except that when I start writing the door seems to open even more and I can’t keep up. I can’t write it all down fast enough and my hands get tired from it. So I stop. I take breaks. Sometimes for a day and sometimes for a few weeks.

This creates stress. A lot of it. Which seems to amplify the nightmares and the sleepwalking. It’s not always problematic dreams, actually far from it. Even when under stress I don’t always have nasty night terror kind of experiences. They’re just a lot clearer. Like HD dreams with surround sound. One time (at band camp, No I’m just joking), Stranger saw a hamster under the sheets in the bed. And he was determined to catch it. Imagine now, how it looks like, when you move something small under a blanket and a cat tries to catch it. That’s how it looked like, and I had a front row seat to the show. My wife thought it was pretty weird too. “What are you doing?” – She said with her sleepy voice. “Be quite! I have to catch the hamster!” – Stranger confidently responded. He never caught it, by the way. That kind of dream is hilarious and works great as a funny story at parties with friends. But sometimes you get the really bad ones. The ones that make you permanently worried for your future.

Going out on the balcony is scary enough since falling down could very well be the end of me (and Stranger). I never ever used any violence while active at night (I don’t count when Stranger stepped on my wife). Except for one time. There was one night when I thought my necklace was burning through my skin, so I violently ripped it off (snapping the chain into several small pieces) and threw the remaining pieces across the room. I don’t wear a necklace anymore. When I realised the next morning, I became very afraid. I have since then made it a policy not to keep many things in the bedroom. This is to make it harder for Stranger to get any “strange” ideas.

Regarding the balcony problem. People often tell me to simply lock the door (It is locked, actually!). The problem here is that, anything I can do, Stranger can do (He has access to my whole brain, remember?). The door would be a good obstacle for a little while, but the more I have to open it to get out while awake, the more it becomes a routine. And the faster Stranger will get it and start opening it as well.

I’m writing all this as an intro. I’m not sure if I will ever show it to anyone (at the time of writing, this has obviously changed), we’ll see. The current status of things are that my wife is in Vietnam visiting her parents, and I’m home trying to have a calm vacation. I’ve recently read that certain allergy medicine can disturb your sleep and make you sleepwalk. So as a test I am not taking my allergy medicine in the morning instead of the evening before sleep. So far I’m unsure of the effects. I guess it needs more time.

A few nights ago, Stranger took my wives cover and pretended it was a magic carpet. He didn’t show me the world (insert Aladdin joke). And last night the bedroom curtains turned into large battleship curtains that were aiming for us.

Good thing Stranger is always prepared for these situations. He bravely threw himself off the bed and down on the floor, dodging the incoming shells. He then sprinted out of the room and got us to safety. It still hurts.

That’s all for now. I’ll write more when more crazy things happen (I actually have more in stock but my hands are getting tired from writing). I will also update more on the medicine experiment and post the results.

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