When Fear Takes Form

By: Adam Rivera

“I was sweating that night. The entire night, I had AC on and my fan blowing right on me. None of it mattered. I was just drenched. I could feel my skin rubbing against itself,  pulling with the ever so slight grip of friction, just to be sent off with the sweat moving it from side to side. After that there isn’t much I really remember. I remember how hungry I was. I didn’t eat for maybe 7 hours, I was starving. That wasn’t even my main focus but every time it started I could feel it every single time. This particular time it worked. I finally got there. I was empty, and lost. That’s all I needed, and I was using the wrong technique. It’s different for everyone. It depends on your past, your heart, how open you are to the idea, and finally… I was allowed in. It was terrifying.”

I could tell this was all true. He was genuinely scared when we spoke of it. He’s delusional, but honest. I don’t know which ones scarier in a story like this. I took note of his movements and his stories, where they took place, his feelings, what happened around that time period. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Just an odd unusual man who lost his mind. I knew he wouldn’t say anything else if I didn’t ask, so … I asked, “What was it like?”. He jumped when he heard me talk. He always tapped the side of his arms. 

Every ten seconds, as if he was looking for a pulse quickly. I decided to make the question easier, so I asked “Why do you do that? You keep hitting your arms? Are you punishing yourself for something?” I asked as it seemed to be the only logical answer.

“No no. This is to remind myself that I’m real, and it won’t happen again,”. He was nervous, I could work off of this. 

“Make sure what won’t happen again? The sunken place?” I stared him completely down as I said that and as expected, the shaking and nervous jitters stopped immediately the minute the words left my mouth. He started to talk about the feeling beforehand. He felt like he had no control like when he felt his hands were being moved. 

“I didn’t have any control. It felt as if I was being birthed, but even the baby had a bit control of what happened. The control of crying and moving. I never got that chance. I was just put down to where I wasn’t. I wasn’t in or out. I was nothing merely a statue floating in a world without recognition. What was I meant to do here? Just accept my fate of eternal darkness. I couldn’t. I began to move my arms, but that didn’t do anything to my outside body.” I write down the fact that he calls it the outside body, as if this is a separate world he’s in. 

I recognized these types of symptoms in other patients. Paranoia and constant fear. Usually caused by lack of sleep, or past experiences. I wanted to right down drugs, but that never seemed to be something he was showing signs of. No excessive shouting, or odd hand movements in silence. He just was afraid of the idea of not being alone. “I could feel the blanket rubbing on my toes, but that wasn’t enough to pull me back. I was stuck in there for what seemed like days.” he said twiddling his thumbs around.

I took note of that as well. “Well, I’m afraid that’s all the time we have,” I said looking at my watch. “Please, call me if you need anything. If you have any more experiences with this ‘Sunken Place’ please contact me. I want to know and understand as much as I can about this area.” I said sticking my hand out for a handshake. He grabbed me and pulled me close as he said “Please don’t let me go back there. I know I will. It wants me.”. He rushed out the door and scratched his neck a few times looking around. 

He passed away 4 days after that. There were no calls before that. That was the last thing he had ever said to me. Probably an overdose that took him out. He seemed to be on drugs and police were searching for him 2 days before the death. Speaking to him before, seeing the fear in his eyes, it makes it seem like there was more behind his death. It’s not my place to say or do anything about that. It just still pesters my mind. I saw his pictures in the news. “Middle Aged White Male ‘Andrew Jenkins’ found dead in home after what seems to be an overdose of Heroin”. Surely the reports were right, but whenever I look into his eyes … I see that same look he gave me when he asked for help. When he came to my door in a panic, and when he left in fear. As if he was chased by something he couldn’t explain and was too afraid to sound crazy. I still wonder to this day if he truly died from that overdose. Maybe i’m asking the wrong questions, maybe this isn’t the right answer at all. But it had to have been an overdose … that’s the only answer …


Art Piece by Andie Heerwald