I had been to the doctor 6 times, in 5 months for strep throat. Finally I had met the requirements of my insurance company for getting my tonsils and adenoids removed. My doctor referred me to an ear, nose, and throat specialist and gave me a prescription for a potent antibiotic. The ear, nose, and throat doctor had my entire medical history in front of him documenting my troubles with anxiety and depression, but insisted that I should stop smoking in the weeks up to my surgery. This was the same surgeon who had removed a blood clot from my face when I was nine. There was no reason for me not to trust him.
I began taking Chantix and I can only compare it to having taken Ritalin. I woke up, took the pill, stopped at TigerMart on my way into work, got a biscuit and a large cup of coffee. I noticed about an hour later I wasn't struggling to wake up as was usual for a Wednesday morning. I felt more energized, driven. I was sweating a little bit, but I wasn't hot or uncomfortable. This trend continued for a few days.
The fifth day I took Chantix, I noticed I had trouble sleeping. The two kids from next door had come over and smoked pot with me until about midnight. Elizabeth and Josh were both delightful kids. They were both only 18 and I continually picked on them for not having been born in the 80s. They were the first people I ever really associated with who weren't alive during the 80s; no memories of Thunder Cats, G.I. Joe, or the original Transformers. As midnight was nearing, I really wanted to stay awake and hang out with them, but I knew I had to be at work early, at the east location, at 7am. They left and I went to my room and collapsed on the bed, still fully dressed.
A few hours later I woke up, my mouth was very dry. This had become a regular occurrence as well. My thirst was insatiable and I had to piss every hour or so. I woke up, opened one of the plastic bottles I had recycled and filled with water, these lined one quarter of my refrigerator, drained it, and headed back in the direction of what I thought was my bed room. Apparently I was still mostly asleep, because I was very disoriented and had gotten turned around. Being so tired, I didn't care, I collapsed on the couch. What seemed like minutes later, I woke up on the couch, remembered I didn't have my alarm in the same room with me, and headed back to bed.
I wake up again, an hour later. Only now I am standing in my living room. This is very odd. I distinctly remember my bed, and now I'm standing in my living room. I'm no longer fully dressed and my clothes are on the opposite side of the room. I am in socks and boxers. I returned to bed. I woke up an hour before my alarm should have gone off, still dark outside, only now I am asleep on top of the clothes I had taken off earlier. I was sleep walking. Also, as was very out of the ordinary for me, I had ceased to dream. I thought about it and I hadn't dreamt a single night since I had started taking Chantix. Feeling completely drained, I made some hot tea, turned on the Chili Peppers album "One Hot Minute", and jumped in the shower. I was completely drained. As was my usual morning regimen I took my Effexor, my Chantix, and my antibiotics.
The entire day I felt like I hadn't slept at all. At my desk at work I had made a pyramid of "caffeine shots" that were offered free with TigerMart coffee. Everyday I had grabbed a hand full of them and jammed them into my pocket. I was making a pyramid out of them at work and some of my co-workers found it amusing that it was growing. I also gave them the caffeine shots, they were appreciative. The lack of sleep continued. I began consuming more and more of the caffeine shots to be able to get through the day. I was falling asleep at my desk, nodding off for a minute at the time and then snapping back to attention. It was like I was back on heroin, on the nod, only my body ached, my head was throbbing, and I was emotionally empty. I felt depressed, I had no interest in anything, even food had lost its taste. I didn't feel alive any more. The strange sleep walking had continued. I was waking up in various rooms in the house. There were nights where I wouldn't sleep at all or would only sleep for an hour or two. My patience and attention span were gone. Then the nightmares began.
I was having that nightmare where I would run and run from something. It was as if I was in a scene from 28 weeks later, but everything was black and white. There were no sounds or interactions with people that I remember, I was just running. I would wake up in a panic, gasp for breath, and would be unable to return to sleep. This trend continued for a week until one night I lost it. After missing so much sleep, my body finally gave in one afternoon. I had returned home from work, let my dog out, played with him for 15 minutes, and shut him in my bedroom with me because I knew I had to sleep. Zeus was thrilled to be able to sleep with me, as I usually made him sleep in his kennel. We curled up together, I closed my eyes, and don't even remember going to sleep.
I didn't feel Zeus get up and move, I just didn't feel him. I opened my eyes, something was wrong. I had that ominous sense of dread, anxiety. Zeus was gone. Something was wrong, something was going to go wrong. I began to search for him in the house. All the doors inside were open; pantry, bathroom, both bedrooms, cabinet doors, and the door to the laundry room. Zeus was nowhere to be found. I tried to open the front door but it was stuck. It didn't even budge. I looked out the windows and the world outside was monochrome. It was raining, but the rain was this black oil that fell slower than the rain. It was almost as if it wasn't falling, but rather creeping down from the sky. Long tentacles of black oil stretched down from the sky so thin until they would snap and turn into droplets.
This rain began to gather and collect on the windows and cover them up. I don't know why but I felt paniced. I had to get out of the house. I tried to open the windows. First the large one in the living room near my fig tree. It didn't matter which way the latch was flipped, it wouldn't open. I got a spreading knife from the kitchen and tried to pry around the edges of the window thinking maybe they had been painted shut. They had not and my efforts were fruitless. I tried one window after another. None of them would open. I went to the bathroom because when I showered, I usually opened the translucent window above the tub. I knew it would work. I couldn't open it and now the oil was coming in from around the window and under the doors.
The dark water began to fill up my apartment. I tried to break windows. I picked up a vase, an incense holder, my statue of some Catholic saint, the tiny statue of Ganesh I threw them one after the other into the same window and nothing. They hit and bounced back, not even making a mark. I was now chest deep in this dark water and climbed up on the kitchen sink. I jumped up off of the counter and caught the edge of the loft above my washer and dryer. I pulled myself up. I looked down and watched as the dark water continued to rise. I decided there was nothing else I could do, so I let myself rest on top of the loft. I could feel this cold water cover me. I fought and hit the ceiling, finally giving in and breathing.
I woke up, covered in sweat, with Zeus giving me his, "stupid human..." face. It was now midnight, I had slept for seven hours. Zeus and I stayed up all night and he sat in my lap while I played Zelda. I vowed never to take Chantix ever again. I began smoking again, but was smoking a pack a day, up from a pack every three. I didn't care because once again I could dream.