I always thought that I’d be okay when I die, that I’d be okay with not existing once I close my eyes, that the thought of everything I’ve ever done would be gone in an instant wouldn’t scare me. But I was wrong.
A couple weeks ago I came back to England after visiting family in Canada, I barely had any sleep but felt quite awake once I had gotten home. After only about 5 hours sleep I was up again for a 10 hour and 45 minute shift at work, again feeling fine apart from some minor temple pain (I’ve been having issues with my headsets at work pressing my glasses against my head which is causing all sorts of pain including migraines. But nothing I can’t deal with). Once home me and my partner watched some anime and ate dinner and after about an hour into this I started to experience the most terrifying moment of my life so far.
It’s hard to explain what I felt, but I’ll try my best. I was about to click the button to watch the next episode when I started to get a headache, headache is the only word I can use even though it wasn’t an ache as such. It wasn’t painful in any way that I’ve experienced pain either. It was as if the centre of the back part of my left brain suddenly had a lot of weight causing my head to tilt to the left, however my head wasn’t actually moving, it just felt as though it was. Then the ‘heaviness’ seemed to roll to the centre of the back of the right side of my brain (as if it were a heavy ball rolling around inside my brain), making it seem once more that my head was tilting to the other side when it wasn’t. It continued going back and fourth rolling from side to side as I was sitting there with my hands either side of my head trying to breathe slowly to calm myself down. Then the rolling stopped but both parts of my brain still felt heavy in those particular centre parts, sometimes it felt like a huge electrical impulse throbbing, such as having electroconvulsive therapy, whereas other times it just felt mentally heavy as if my brain was being pulled down and ripped part. You know in movies where a sound or electrical impulse gets sent out and everyone in range goes to the floor clutching their head, it was like that.
I thought it would stop but it didn’t, it just kept going from side to side then both sides at once then side to side again. I couldn’t think properly, or speak in sentences, I felt my whole body drain of energy so it was tiresome keeping my hands up to my head. I couldn’t even explain what was happening to me to my boyfriend as he sat beside me and held me in his arms. I was uncontrollably crying because I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea what was happening and trying to calm my breath was doing nothing, I had some water and that didn’t do much, and I tried to relax my whole body as if I was going to sleep but that did nothing either. I was so scared I was having some form of stroke or there was a bold clot or something was happening to my brain and I was going to die. That didn’t help with calming down as I started to hyperventilate alongside still crying and having asthma. I managed to slightly calm my self down enough to regulate my breathing, but I was squeezing my hands so tightly together on my lap and concentrating on them to do so.
My head was against my boyfriends chest but the darkness and silence didn’t help with what was going on in my head. Thoughts started to sieve through about how I would go to sleep and not wake up, and what would he do if I died. After a little while my mind started to calm down and I was able to talk. I said to him what he would need to do if I died, contact my work, bank, credit card company, student finance, phone provider etc. I said he could sell everything of mine to help him out money wise and that I had life insurance through my job so he’d get money from that, I forgot to say about what would happen in terms of a funeral but he knows I don’t want one and would want my body donated to science or whatever is the cheapest removal. I could tell from his voice he thought I was being silly but I’ve watched enough movies and TV shows to know what could come next. I also made jokes to lighten the mood for myself and for him because I knew he was freaking out from my behaviour (he ended up calling me on his break at work the next day to make sure I was okay). I joked about maybe this was the point I get superpowers because how cool would that actually be?
After my brain started to feel a lot better I was drinking some more water and said I was going to bed. I stripped everything off including my fitbit and turned my phone off leaving them a good meter away from me. Whether it was dehydration, tiredness or something more serious I just wanted to sleep. He slept with me even though it was only 9:30pm and I said I love you to him, then said that if I did die in my sleep at least my last words would be those. I was preparing myself for death and was sure that I could have died. At first the idea was horrifying and I didn’t want to die, I have so much more to live for, so much more to do and see in my life it couldn’t end now. But after I calmed down and the weight went I started to accept that I may not wake up in the morning. I felt I had done everything right, by saying I love you and explaining most stuff that he needs to do, and then I started to think that if I did in fact die I would die happy. I had the arms of someone I love so much wrapped around me in our flat with our cat, all I wanted to do when I was little was go to university and I did that, I wanted to travel the world and I didn’t get to see the all of it but 11 countries over Europe, north and south America isn’t bad. I’ve hiked mountains and climbed waterfalls in the Andes and walked on volcanos in Tenerife, I’ve gone to festivals for free writing and taking pictures for a magazine and managed to get poetry published online. I’ve lived a good life so far and it only took being mentally so close to death to realise it.
16 hours later and I was awake. I googled the symptom, as everyone would and nothing major came up to be worried about (which is rare for google). I’m pretty sure it was due to lack of sleep and dehydration and my glasses issue at work probably didn’t help. But the fear of that night still lingers in my mind today, as well as how well I dealt with the situation. Even though I was terrified and felt completely out of control, I still managed to do everything I felt I needed to, and fell asleep happily knowing I may never see the ones I love again. Hopefully when I do die, I get to feel the same.