I sat in a dimly-lit room, fiddling with my thumbs. I heard nothing but the sounds of my feet tapping against the floor with anticipation. Giving me a kind smile, the psychologist walked past me and sat down in his chair. He then reached for his notebook and clicked his pen.
Flipping to a new page, he introduced himself. “Hello, Jonathan. My name is Dr. Sovan. Do you know why you are here today?” He looked over at me and waited patiently for my response.
After a minute or so, he repeated my name. I snapped out of my trance and quickly apologized to him. I felt his eyes quickly assessing me before he continued with our session. “You’re uncomfortable, aren’t you?” he asked. I rubbed my hands together, remaining silent. How could I explain to a shrink what was possibly wrong when I did not know the answers myself? “It’s okay to feel this way, Jonathan. Hardly anyone feels comfortable when coming to me about certain circumstances. I assure you, though, this is a safe place. No one will interrupt our sessions, and nothing will ever leave this very room. You are in a secured environment.” I shook my head and slightly chuckled at his attempt for comfort. His words would be sincere and believable if it did not sound so textbook.
“Now, I’m just going to dive into some of these situations you’ve been experiencing. I think it’s better to attack it head-on. Is that okay with you?” I nodded my head in compliance. I just wanted this to be over. I knew he wouldn’t understand. Hell, no one did. The only reason I’m here is so my parents could get some sort of clarity of what is happening to me, and the doctor is only here to diagnose me and get a paycheck. Because whenever there is a problem, there is always a “Fix” for it.
Rifling through some of his papers, he pulled out a doctor’s slip and began reading it out loud. “It says here that--you were experiencing symptoms of REM Behavioral disorder? It says they began shortly after your accident. Is this true?”
“Yes,” I mumbled.
He seemed to be circling some words with his pen before continuing on the matter. “Ah, it also mentions here that you can’t recall any of your incidences?”
“No, um, it’s like it fades away when I wake up,” I informed him.
“And you cannot remember a single occurrence?” he wondered.
“No, I--” I stopped in the middle of my sentence.
“What? What is it, Johnathan?” he pursued.
“Nothing, it’s nothing.” He gave me a curious look while tapping his finger against the desk. He knew I wasn’t entirely open, and for a good reason. I couldn’t let myself talk, though, and I can’t explain why.
“Interesting.” The doctor jotted down a few things in his notebook before asking more questions. “Okay, so if you cannot recall a single detail from your dreams, then what about a feeling? Our minds have a way of leaving behind a clue of what we have encountered during REM sleep. From the feeling of joy or stress, there’s always an indication. Have you felt any of these?”
I thought about his words religiously. I never really saw it from that perspective before. Although, the more I concentrated, the sooner I realized that I did have a constant feeling lingering within me. An unshakable feeling that couldn’t subside no matter how hard I tried.
“Yeah. I, uh, I think so,” I answered back.
“Oh? Can you describe what that emotion is?” he asked.
I looked down at the floor while my heart started to race. “I um, felt ... dread. Complete unrelenting dread.”
His curiosity peaked while diving deeper into the conversation. “That’s good, Johnathan. We are making excellent progress here. Fear is one of the most common words I hear throughout my sessions. It is the one thing our minds cannot fully comprehend or grasp. The things we cannot explain we categorize into 'fear' itself. When something is abnormal to the human perception, their response is defaulted to fear. You are not alone in this, for many have sat in your shoes.” Setting his notebook aside, he decided to try something.
“Now hold onto that feeling,” he told me. “Let it sit with you. Let it fill you up. A feeling can trigger a memory, perhaps one forgotten by you. Even if it might feel scary, I want you to try and push through and think if you can recall as to why you felt that way. It can be the first step in figuring out what is happening. So, do you think you can remember anything regarding this feeling?”
I sat there, contemplating what to say. I tried remembering, I did, but the more I thought, the worse I began to feel. I knew I had to fight this. I had to share this experience and tell someone, even if it was a stranger. “I can’t see it, but I know something’s there. It’s in the back of my mind. It’s an itch I can’t scratch. I’m sitting here now trying to remember, I really am, but for some reason, I can’t.”
Hearing what seemed like whispers behind me, I turned around and stared at his door. My eyes became hazy, and the sounds within the room faded away. A knot in the pit of my stomach started to form while I felt my own body go numb. A muffled voice began speaking through. Dread crept over me as I tried listening. Without realizing it, I gave the doctor an answer that neither of us expected.
“It does not want me to,” I blurted out.
“Whoa, now,” he stopped me. “I can see that you are scared, but let’s back track for a few moments and clarify some things. When talking, you seem to mention 'It'? As if some being or entity? Is this the cause of your fear? This feeling of dread, you say?”
I inhaled deeply and cleared my throat. “I um, I, uh, I don’t really… know.”
After writing a few more notes, Dr. Sovan clicked his pen and stuck it in his shirt pocket. He then crossed his arms and leaned forward towards me. “Do you have any idea of what it can be?” I stared at him intently, my mind racing trying to figure out what lurked deep inside my head.