No matter in what room of the house I’m sitting or how lit it is, fear is lurking behind me, waiting silently. I wake up in the middle of the night, and there’s nothing I can do that will make me go back to sleep; I lie awake for an hour, two hours, maybe more. Suddenly I wake up, and there’s a dim light coming through the window. I have two hours to read and write, that’s the plus side. But I’m tired all day long and don’t have Kepra to blame for my tiredness.
A conversation with my therapist helped me find an answer as to the origin of my fear; it was fear of the unexpected, and the coma was unexpected. I’ve the fantasy that when I fall asleep, I’ll be sucked into a black hole. Like Alice, I’ll start sliding through a black whirlpool, picking up speed every time until I’ll fall into a silent wall of darkness.
Sleep and unconsciousness have one thing in common – the lack of bodily activity. Yet, they are very different. While we sleep, our brain and other organs are actively working; we can dream and can also wake up, depending on the degree of lightness or heaviness of our sleep. When we’re in a coma we are fully unconscious; neither our brain nor our other organs work (that’s why I was intubated), so we’re unable to dream or wake up. My unconsciousness left a wide memory gap about my coma that I’ve been unable to fill, an inability that makes me feel as if I had crossed a black hole. But since I have no conscious memories but plenty of unconscious ones (that is, no memories engraved in the cortical layer but plenty engraved in the amygdala), my memories of fear are certainly always present. Because of their similarities, to my amygdala, sleep equals coma, so the first causes fear of the second.
If you want to find out more about the amygdala and memory, you can read The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux, Simon and Schuster, 1998