My first night’s sleep on Topamax is restless and troubled. After going to bed around eleven, I wake up at two o’clock, tired and wide awake, from a confused dream in which I have been adding and tabulating endless columns of numbers.
I close my eyes. Sleep avoids me. I repeat a mantra in my head, trying to lure myself back to sleep: Baruch attah Adonai … Baruch attah Adonai … Baruch attah Adonai …
Almost immediately, I fall into a dream where I am cutting huge squares of plywood from one long, extruded sheet. I cut one square … Baruch … and another … attah … and another … Adonai. I start stacking the sheets of wood; the stack grows taller. I start another. Stan Thornton, my old boss from SkyTel, comes in the warehouse and tells me we need more stacks, and that they must be sorted — all the Baruchs in one pile, all the attahs in another, and so on.
I wake several more times during the night, frustrated that I cannot stop working on these pointless tasks. By morning, I’m exhausted.
First thing this morning, I’m aware that I’m … different. I feel sleepy, certainly, but I also feel … not myself. I’m distant; the world’s a bit fuzzy around the edges, and I’m holding it at arm’s length. I go through my usual routine, showering and shaving. I’m terribly, ravenously thirsty. I even drink shower water.
At breakfast, Clyde serves up one of his usual menus: two slices of whole wheat toast, a nice selection of fruit slices, and three strips of veggie bacon. I sit down and start to eat …
… except that things are different. I just can’t get interested in the food. I’m not sure I can describe this. It’s never happened to me before. The food tastes the same — but I’m not intrigued by it. It doesn’t hold my interest.
Imagine settling in with a DVD of your favorite movie. The story is the same. The actors are the same. The colors are just as bright. The soundtrack rises and swells … but suddenly, inexplicably, it doesn’t touch you at all. It’s not appealing. There’s no “ooomph,” no attraction. Instead of Moulin Rouge, you might as well be watching one of those bright, frantic Indian musicals where the lovers sing to each other from opposing helicopters for reasons you simply cannot fathom.
That’s my breakfast experience.
So far, this morning, I continue to be sleepy. Know how you feel the next morning after staying up all night? Remember how little things are just a bit too fascinating … or how you find yourself taking just a bit too long to do simple tasks? That’s the deal.
Spookier, though, are the typos. I type with embarassing speed. When I type in public, people frequently stare — they think I’m just goosing the keyboard, typing nonsense in an effort to draw attention to myself. Despite the high words-per-minute, I’m fairly accurate. The errors that do creep into my work follow a reguar pattern: I know I tend to drop the final “r” off the word “your” — that kind of thing.
Today — and maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading all the Topamax horror stories on the Internet — bizarre typing errors pepper my work. I’m catching them (or I think I am), but the fact that they occur at all is creeping me out. I mean typos, but type typose; I think accurate, but type aquerate. It’s unnerving.
I found a post on the Internet this morning in which a guy claimed that, while on Topamax, his IQ fell from 138 to 110. Back in grade school, we used to ask each other, “If you could only be one or the other, would you rather be stupid and pretty, or brilliant and ugly?”
And I have to wonder: by taking Topamax … am I making a choice?
Want to read more? See part three of six here.