In the two weeks following the onset of the illness, as I have already described, I was experiencing a range of terrifying symptoms and only had rare moments of normality. A symptom that developed in this time was what Nova and I came to call, affectionately, drop attacks.
The drop attacks took a number of different forms. The one I experienced most often was the version where I would be doing something, walking somewhere, and suddenly I would drop to my knees or end up sitting on the ground. These must have been so bizarre to observe. A particular memory I have is of a day when my amazing brother had come over from Edinburgh to look after me. We were out for a walk in the woods opposite our house and, what felt like every two minutes, I would do the knee-drop and end up sitting on the forest floor. What I remember about these episodes was that it was linked to the electrical current which was now constantly running through me, my whole body felt like it was on edge and jarring literally ALL THE TIME, it was actually unbearable, there was no rest from it. I would get to a point where I could take it no more and the thought would come to me that if I just collapsed it would stop. It was almost like a full stop to the electrical current’s sentence. If I fell down it would stop…and so that’s what I did, except when I hit the ground it wouldn’t stop, it would be just the same, the only difference being that the fragment-me would know deep down I must look like a complete basket case. The torment of knowing you must look insane and not being able to stop it. The knee-drop-attacks happened many many many times.
Another form of drop attack was similar but the sensation was different. With this one I would get to the point of screaming with the electrical current and all of a sudden I would feel like I was falling into an abyss. It was a dark, swirling feeling, I imagine something like when Harry Potter apparates. I would fall, feeling like I would never stop and it would all be over, a blissful feeling and one I craved, until I hit the ground and then, boom, I would just be on the ground. Nothing stopped it, nothing, and the disappointment was excruciating. A memory of one of these attacks again involves my brother. It was in the early days and he was coming over, I think for the first time since I fell ill. He must have been so worried and just before he arrived I had a swirly drop attack. He came through the door to find me lying on the ground, I think I remember Nova saying, ‘this is what happens’. What a horrendous sight it must have been for him and all I remember feeling is again, what must I look like, how can I convince people I am ok when this shit keeps happening. That evening I remember sitting on the sofa beside my brother and him saying over and over to me that I couldn’t be going mad, he’d only seen me recently and I’d been fine. So many people believed in me and fought for me but this one memory is strong because a cord of light connected me to his belief and I held on to it for all I was worth, it was actually a cord of light that I could see. There were so many things I held on to.
One last type of drop attack I kept largely hidden. This kind must have been some sort of black out because I would be in the bathroom or bedroom, on my own, when I would suddenly wake and find myself on the floor. One of these happened as I tried to get out of the bath one evening and the thud I caused as I hit the ground brought Nova rushing up the stairs. I was completely unable to articulate what had happened.
The visit to the pigs happened around the time of the first visit to Stratheden. Nova decided to drive back by the back road to our house and along that road where a family of pigs which we had often gone to see. We stopped and got out of the car to see them and the worst series of drop attacks yet began. I was falling to the ground over and over again. On this occasion I was driven by a deep desire to be close to the earth, I don’t know why, it was a compulsion. Over and over I fell until Nova managed to get me back into the car. The compulsion escalated to a dangerous level as my desire to be near the ground drove me to open the car door and try to throw myself out. Again, over and over. Somehow Nova got me home but she was hugely stressed, fragment-me could see that. Once we got home I sat in the garden, after a few more drop attacks, and smoked a cigarette while Nova was on the phone to a friend. All of a sudden I came back, I CAME BACK. I screamed to Nova to come over, that I was back and in a rambling, excited speech I told her that I knew my name and where I lived, I was ok.
That short time of sanity lasted for a little while and Nova and I sat and talked and even had a laugh about some of the bonkers things I had been doing. I had a stone that someone had given me which had the word ‘faith’ painted on to it. I held tight to the stone, believing it would help me hold my brain together. Nova took a phone call and was telling the caller about my ‘ return’. All of a sudden everything started to splinter again, only this time I was sinking as well. I was sinking in to a clear, jelly swamp and I was deep inside it. I could see Nova looking at me with terror on her face as she realised what was happening and I could see her crying. I tried to speak, to say ‘it’s ok, I’m ok’ but the words couldn’t get through the swamp. This was the beginning of the mute phase which lasted for at least 2 weeks.