I had planned on writing a few posts detailing the hallucinations I experienced during the 88 hours of sleeplessness I endured when I finally sobered up ten years ago. Health concerns got in the way (I have a nasty sunburn gotten while planting a vegetable garden on Thursday and I just didn’t give a rodent’s posterior about 10 year-old hallucinations.) But today is the 10th anniversary of that last day of no sleep and I want to get them out. So, this might be a long one.
I do not remember the order in which they occurred. No matter. I already blogged about hearing Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gee’s. I think these are all of the rest.
Some of the creepiest hallucinations are now kind of interesting, in retrospect. The shadow birds-of-prey that flew across the living room ceiling and walls were pretty. These were obviously birds like hawks and falcons, but appeared like shadows, slowly flying across the ceiling.
I suppose the ceiling was like a projection screen. Other things appeared on it aside from shadow raptors. There was a ghostly-white stagecoach, complete with driver and team of horses that raced across some desert. This was one of a few hallucinations that I was able to control. I was able to speed up the stagecoach, or slow it down just by concentrating.
Another thing that appeared on the ceiling was a female bouncing on a bed. She grew in age from a girl of maybe 10 or 12, to a young woman of 20 or 30 as she bounced. She was ghostly-white like the stagecoach scene. She was also wearing (while a child) some sort of short nightgown, but as she aged into adulthood her bedroom attire changed into negligee. I think she was blonde, but being ghostly-white, it didn’t matter.
Two other hallucinations that I was able to control were a bed-that-was-like-a-raft and green and red beads of light that inched cross-wise along the ceiling. I laid in bed, on my stomach, and the bed seemed to float back-and-forth like a raft on the sea. I was able to willfully make the raft go way up on a wave or way down, back and forth, fast or slow. Sort of like when you’re on a swing set and you can make the swing arc way high up or not so much. The beads of light (not occurring at the same time as the bed raft) were just alternating green and red lights that marched across grooves in the ceiling. They crisscrossed and when I stared at them I discovered that I could control their speed. I wanted to make them disappear because I didn’t like them for some reason, and so I willed them away. They gradually became slower, and then stopped and vanished.
This was odd as although I never got into counseling (can’t afford tuition) and hallucinations never came up in AA meetings (not that I recall) I never ever heard of anyone being able to control theirs. I just knew that these events were not real. I just knew that despite how strange or freaky or annoying the hallucinations were, I knew that they weren’t real. They did not affect my outward behavior. My Mom had only once asked why I was so interested in the ceiling, but that was it. I suppose that I had just enough of a grip on reality to realize an hallucination from something that was actually there. I also never mistook something real for an hallucination.
On to more hallucinations:
I was also repeatedly attacked by an invisible bug (probably a fly that buzzed.) Also, I kept hearing Peter Jennings of “ABC World News Tonight” report on the news all night long. Throughout the house. The TV was off, I had checked. I had turned it off late that evening because I was getting annoyed by the locusts or grasshoppers that were crawling and hopping all over the houseplants that were on either side of the TV.
There was one tactile hallucination. Something kept kicking me in the leg one afternoon.
And the Mass I attended on that Sunday, that last sleepless day. All of those women and the Giant Franciscan!
I went to Mass and sat nowhere near where I normally did. I chose a pew along the right, up against the stained glass, (I think it depicted Jesus Raising the Widow’s Son at Nain.)
And so while I was sitting there, looking leftward towards the altar to watch my priest-friend offer Mass, these women kept appearing at the head of the aisle. They were seen as if they were just at the edge of my peripheral vision. These women promptly disappeared when I swung my head to the right to see them. The only thing that I caught was that they were wearing business attire (heels, dark hose, knee-length skirts, blouses, well-done hair. I know, not bad for a minuscule glance but they kept appearing all throughout Mass and so I kept track of the details.) They also held clipboards and writing instruments. I was also the subject of whatever they were there for as they all had been looking at me while standing there.
They finally disappeared towards the end of Mass when a Giant Franciscan, looking like a 30-foot tall St. Francis, appeared in the middle of the church. You know how St. Francis is often depicted holding a bird in one hand and offering a blessing? This one was holding a clipboard like the women. Once he showed up, the women vanished for good.
I said earlier that I knew these were all hallucinations and therefore didn’t affect my behavior. Except for one. I think it was the last one I experienced before finally falling asleep after 88 hours of being awake.
That night, May 26th or maybe early on the 27th, I was sitting in bed. I think “Peter Jennings” was “on the TV.” The room was dark and in walked a cat. It was black, and it walked in the room like it owned the place, as cats are known to do. The kitty appeared so real. Now, I had a cat at the time, but this one wasn’t Tony. TonyCat was not allowed in the house, just the basement and back porch (long story. Tony is gone now, anyway, having died Easter Monday 2003.) This cat was a small and it just freaked me out. In think I yelped in fear or surprise. No, it was fear. Maybe terror? This kitty cat scared the ____ right out me. It continued on into the bedroom and hid underneath a dresser. And then its eyes glowed red.
I think that was it. I do not recall what happened next, if the cat just disappeared or I just realized it was not real and it vanished. I think I did try to shoo it away, but it didn’t budge. My memory vague on that.
Those are, I believe, all of the hallucinations. I have been told for years to write them down so that I do not forget. I don’t think anyone meant that I should blog them, but I figure that I should share them. Not sure why, but here they are.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"