Patrick Stewart and I were participating in a charity auction. We both had our TNG uniforms to put on the block, and a room filled with over a thousand people was waiting for us to bring them onto the stage … but I couldn’t find mine. I searched a seemingly infinite number of closets in a hotel room that seemed to change size and configuration, thwarting my increasingly harried efforts to find it.
Then I was on the street in front of a different hotel. I needed to check out, but my suitcase was locked inside my room, and I didn’t have a key. I climbed a precarious fire escape and made my way across a cavernous lobby atrium — looking and feeling like something out of Angel Heart — to finally get inside the room.
When I got into the hotel room, I realized that I had to change out of my clothes. I didn’t know why, but I knew that it was incredibly important that I do it. I began to change my clothes, but when I took off my shirt, it revealed another shirt beneath it. When I took off that shirt, it happened again.
I had to check out of this hotel room, or I was going to miss my flight to Australia, but before I could leave, I had to take a shower. But I couldn’t take a shower until I changed out of my clothes, and the clock was ticking down. I began to panic.
I opened my eyes and saw my bedroom dimly lit by the faintest grey light of dawn through my blinds. My heart was pounding, my body was covered in sweat. Cold terror washed over me as I woke up, and I realized that I was in the middle of a panic attack.
This used to happen to me on an almost nightly basis, but it hasn’t happened for years, until this week. This week, it’s happened every night. I’m starting to dread going to sleep, creating what I think is a self-fulfilling prophecy, an orobouros of anticipation and terror.
I breathed as deeply and calmly as I could, willing my heart to calm down. It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real. I repeated, in my head. Just stress dreams. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay.
I’m not okay.
By any objective measure, I don’t have a good reason to feel stressed or worried or even mildly upset about anything, but my brain is broken and it does this to me when I least expect it. Like it’s waiting for to me work long and intense days, so I’m tired and weak when I climb into bed, so it can launch a sneak attack when I’m least able to defend against it.
My heart settled down. I realized that I hadn’t had any feeling in my hands, when feeling began to return to them. I sighed heavily, and frowned. This isn’t fair. I should be able to go to sleep without fearing what is waiting for me when I get there. I was frustrated. I was a little angry. I was really, really exhausted, even though I’d been in bed and sleeping for close to eight hours.
I was filled with a mixture of adrenaline and dread, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. Though I didn’t technically need to be up and out of bed for another hour, I angrily kicked off the covers, and got out of bed.
This isn’t fair, I thought. This isn’t fair.