I lay in bed, my partner sleeping peacefully besides me.

She’s never had any problems getting to sleep. I envy that easiness, that matter-of-factness about her going to bed. She feels no dread. She knows bed means sleep. It’s not something I’ve enjoyed my adult life –  but especially now.

The tiredness is there.

The tiredness is excruciating, weighted in every muscle, heavy in my eyes, and clogged in my head.

The tiredness should bully me into sleep.

But whatever that last checkpoint is, I never make it.

This is sixteen years ago. I’ve ditched Aropax – too abruptly, I learn retrospectively; and following bad medical advice from a psychiatrist in how to wean off it.

This is a med that can cause horrific withdrawal, but the way I’ve done it – decreasing abruptly, then taking it every other day for a short while – has exacerbated the withdrawal side effects. I learn this because when I go online to research what I’m experiencing, I find a forum dedicated exclusively to people who’ve used, or are using, this drug, and the side effects they’ve endured (or are enduring).

They’re horrified when I explain how I’ve gone off it. They tell me I’ve done it much too quickly and recklessly. I learn an important lesson about the medical community: the experts might know the book science behind what they’re talking about, but it’s the people who are going through it that (also) need to be given credence.

Among the withdrawal side effects I experience are brain zaps, like somebody shoots electricity into my brain; dizziness; becoming overly emotional (quick to cry, and quick to anger); loss of coordination; feeling disconnected; sometimes feeling like I’m standing outside myself; and this, the worst of them, an inability to sleep.

For weeks, I’ve gone to bed exhausted, and I’m sure that I must flit in and out of light sleep at times, however fleetingly, but otherwise I remain awake throughout.

When I get out of bed for the day, I meander through everything. I feel I can barely keep my eyes open. But when I close them there’s no imperative to sleep. All that exists is a hope that come the night, something will change.

But it doesn’t.

Now, laying in my partner’s bed, staring at the open doorway, I can’t help feel that I’ve half slipped out of reality and am peeking into a night-time world full of shadows. The pixilation is thick, a multicoloured mist that’s trying to spring from the darkness. The ringing in my ears is LOUD and reverberates inside my head.

I don’t – and have never, up to this date – felt any uneasiness in my partner’s house, the way sometimes you feel a vibe about certain places.

I’ve never had issues sleeping here before, my insomnia aside.

That’s my normal, though.

This is my abnormal.

I’m awake.

But not just awake from sleep, but everything.

That’s something else the Aropax did – what a lot of people say antidepressants do to them: dull life, until it’s muted. The stuff they threw me on when I was nineteen didn’t do that. But Aropax did. Aropax was a thick, wet blanket that smothered me. And now that I’ve stopped taking it, now that it’s shedding from my system, every sense is not only reinvigorated, but overreacting, so life is gushing in overwhelmingly.

Something inside me has become too cognizant, and it’s that which alerts me that there’s something just beyond the door, although there have been no indicators – no sounds, no shadows, no clues at all.

Nothing but a sense.

But it’s enough.

Some figure, cold but amused, is just about ready to make that connection with me, just about ready to tell me that it’s been waiting, just about ready not to enter my world, but allow me into its world.

Something is readying to step into that doorway.

I wait and wait.

And wait.

I see nothing.

But I’m sure it’s coming.