How to (almost) disappear completely
Credit: sprklg / Flickr
For the past few months, I’ve had a recurring dream. I’m running. Not from anything, and there’s nothing hostile about where I am, it’s actually very close to where I live. I run and run, and eventually stretch out my arms either side of me, when a gust of wind picks me up and pulls me into the air. I’m above the pocket of south London where I was born, flying effortlessly. The sun is shining. Then the wind drops. I begin to fall. I am awake.
What I find most arresting about the dream is not so much the flying, it’s the running. It’s something I’ve been unable to do in over 18 months. I became disabled overnight after I came down with a fever and viral symptoms in November 2016 from which I never recovered. I tried to drag myself into work, noticing small but telling signs that indicated that something was wrong. Stairs required a concerted effort and it felt like the world around my desk was moving slower than it had before, as if it was underwater and I was the only one who couldn’t swim. I developed a permanent sore throat and an overwhelming need to sit down on the train during my morning commute.
After two months of this, I woke up after what I know now to be my last day of work and my body seemed to collapse. Everything felt heavy, as if I’d been beaten up in my sleep.