When I was very young I was prone to fainting spells. I have multiple memories of standing upright one minute, fighting that dizzying wind that fogged out all feeling above my neck, thinking I could do it, feeling the hot and the cold and the pins and needles crawling upward until they blotted out my eyes, then realizing I couldn’t fight it, and—splat—I was down. I don’t know how long I’d stay out. The next thing I invariably remember is being crumpled on the ground, blurry faces inches from mine, asking if I was all right. I fainted in math class. I fainted during a fire drill. I fainted in an ice-cream parlour while visiting my parents’ friends. I fainted in my own bedroom, while putting socks away in my dresser drawer. I fainted in the car.

Fainting didn’t feel like going to sleep. My brain just went dark, stopped. I wasn’t dreaming. The pins-and-needles effect made me think my head had gone numb. It felt like I was taken out of myself for however many seconds, minutes I was out. And in that time, where was I?

In the past year, the feeling has come back. It happened once on the subway. But I escaped the train, found a seat on the platform, and held on until it passed. A few mornings ago I felt a faint coming on. I had just woken up. I sat on the couch. I scrunched my eyes. I waited. And it passed me by.

Before I felt it coming, I’d been thinking something important. It was about something I was writing, I don’t remember what. It was a spark, a moment of high importance, I’m realizing, but I just can’t get back there. Maybe it was the perfect way to fix my novel and my whole world would be different had I known it. Maybe it was just one word. I don’t know. But it makes me wonder… what else have I missed? It’s like a record that’s skipped—one note, or a whole verse, who’s to know?


  1. Strange and scary! Did you ever look into that it might be some form of narcolepsy. It sounds like it happens when you’re anxious or stressed at times, and I think that’s in keeping with narcoleptic episodes.

    It makes for interesting reading, though! Well articulated!

  2. Maybe it’s some kind of vertigo or low blood pressure or a situational stress reaction? I thought of narcolepsy too, but I have very little knowledge about it. That’s got to be not-fun and as someone above said, frustrating. Sorry you’re going through it–I hope it can be dealt with/things improve.

  3. courtney is right on about the vertigo/blood pressure assessment. it’s a combination of stress, too little sleep, and poor diet. no need to worry folks. no private idaho here. i’ll feed her better in the new year. sugar bad. sugar bad. 😉

  4. Thanks, everyone. I knew someone with narcolepsy… she used to fall asleep while driving on the highway! Yikes.

    Maybe next year I will take better care of myself.

    But I love sugar, love it!

  5. feh. Everytime I “fainted” I’d check what I was doing.. and it turned out I had passed out drunk. Though I think I once came close to passing out from blood loss…. and I watched Bloodsport three times one night on TNT. While “fainted”. I’ve had a looot of coffee. Less sugar, more pickled beets.

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