Thursday, July 15, 2010

3024 Hallucinations

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."
-- Dr. Seuss --


I listened to a TED Talk today (see the July 14 post) on hallucinations. The speaker said that people who are blind have vivid visual hallucinations, and people who are deaf have musical hallucinations. I was reminded of how once he went blind, Jay had hallucinations that seemed very real to him.

Back when I was a little more than a bit "off", in my 20s and early 30s, I used to imagine conversations with people at work, rehearsing so to speak, especially when it was going to be awkward or stressful, but I guess I did it so thoroughly that I fully believed we had already had the conversation. The memory was very clear to me. I distinctly remember what I had said, what they had said, their reactions, everything. Only trouble was, of course, that it had never actually happened. And then I'd get in trouble because even though I had a clear memory of having told someone that some part of the project would be late or whatever, it had never actually happened.

About that same time, I dreamed a lot, and some of those dreams were so clear that I couldn't be sure that they were dreams and not memories. I couldn't tell the difference.

I don't know if any of that is technically hallucinating, but the effect is the same.

I haven't suffered from any of that in almost 30 years. These days I can tell the difference between real and imaginary, although I have noticed a certain problem with short-term memory. If something goes by quickly, I don't always manage to get it "stored". (It started when I had the Versed during the endoscopy in 2005 - post here. Versed is dangerous to memory, and they don't tell you that! In fact, they won't usually even tell you you're getting Versed (pronounced VER-sed))

Anyway, something happened a few days ago that had me very worried about my mental state.

In the evening, I had a memory of something happening earlier in the day, and I wasn't sure that it had actually happened, or whether it was a false memory. I really truly wasn't sure whether it was fact, or a burst of imagination, hallucination. Which was scary because I haven't had that problem in 30 years, and if I imagined it and couldn't tell the difference, well, I'm losing it.

The memory, or hallucination, was of a quick, tactile, auditory, and visual experience, and such an enormous surprise that I didn't react. I didn't react because I didn't know how to react. And then it was gone as quickly as it had arrived, and I moved on to other things. If it was real it was so quick it may not have been stored immediately - the Versed short-term memory problem.

The fact that I couldn't get it out of my head when I went to bed, and then dreamed about it, with extensions, made it worse the next day. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn't the memory that upset me, but that I didn't know whether it was real or imagined. It could have been imagined because it was something I wanted, but can't have, like a horse in the back yard (I want one!), or the fox back in the front yard, or world peace. It could have been real. That I didn't know, scared me.

I may have got a tiny confirmation yesterday (like mysterious hoofprints in the backyard). Or maybe I'm just reading into it. Whatever. The fact that it may have been real doesn't change the fact that I wasn't sure, and that still scares me.

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