Women walk through walls, felt-tip pens dance, grimaces grin from the mirror. In alcohol delirium, sufferers see bizarre things – and think they are real at that moment. A sufferer tells his story.
“At 11.30pm the film started. There was this woman in a light brown suede jacket, half-length, medium brown, straight hair, brown half-boots and jeans, who came into the room every hour or so and smiled at me. I was scared, but she reassured me with her smile.
Until I noticed that she kept entering the room through the wall and not through the door. She always went past the door on the left. This went on for about six hours in the night of 09.01.2003. I was lying in the surveillance room.
Still, it didn’t occur to me that anything was wrong. All I had to do was knock on the window of the security guard to the right of my bed. I didn’t. Because between the wall with the window to the security guard and my bed, there was the body of an elderly woman lying on the floor. So halfway under my bed, she was lying. I turned away because I got scared and looked at the floor in the middle of the room. There, hundreds of Stabilo Boss pens were dancing in the same rhythm. As if they were doing a hip-swing.
I thought it was normal, at least not unusual. I didn’t know that I had just had a withdrawal-related delirium. I also didn’t find anything special about this insanely fat woman who walked through the room and gave me nasty looks, then kept hiding badly behind a small ledge on the wall by the washstand – only to reappear. I was afraid of her.
There was a mirror at this washstand. From this mirror, several grimaces looked over at me and laughed at me as if the mirror were a pane of glass. On the walls and ceiling were texts in large handwritten letters and whenever I tried to read them, they changed. I got more and more scared but still sat on my bed and didn’t call an orderly or anything because I thought it was all real.
But then, as I said, this woman in the brown suede jacket kept coming into the room, giving me peace and serenity. She was a kind of angel for me. I kept talking to her but she didn’t say anything. I asked what she was doing here and whether it was still visiting time. But every time she just smiled at me in a way that somehow gave me the feeling that everything was all right and that I didn’t have to be afraid. I can’t describe it any other way. In any case, I still remember that feeling today. She would get up and leave the room and then come back to give me courage in front of all these grimaces.
Then suddenly there were two cats in the room. One red and one brown. They jumped onto the bed of my only room neighbour. I noticed that he was sitting cross-legged on the bed, with his back to me, facing the wall. He was wearing a sky-blue (OP?) shirt, which was open at the back. His back was very hairy. He had very white skin, short brown hair with a half-bald head and weighed at least 130 kilos.
The red cat went to him on the bed, but he did not turn around. The brown one stayed on the floor. I wanted to lure the cats to me and leaned out of my bed because I wanted to pet them. But they only looked over at me. I spoke to the man. He just sat there, didn’t move, didn’t turn around and didn’t say anything. At some point it got really scary. Then the fat woman came again. She was wearing the same sky-blue shirt. Nothing else. I looked over at my neighbour’s bed again. A little old lady with snow-white hair was sitting there now, facing me and smiling lovingly at me. The cats were still there.
At 5.30 in the morning, I had a conversation with my room neighbour who had somehow woken up. I asked him, “Is that allowed?” He said “What, the pillows?” I said, “No, the cats in the room.”
My room neighbour, a slim Indian man about 40 years old, then left the room very quickly. Shortly afterwards, three emergency doctors were in the room. I only remember the red suitcase next to me. They said to me: What’s wrong? I said “I don’t know either, so many things happen here last night, all the cats and then this woman always comes”.
The emergency doctor asked: “Which woman?” I said, “THAT one” and pointed to the chair where she was also still sitting and smiling at me. The chair was empty for the doctor, of course.
“Please take the thread out of my hand” he said and held his hand over my face. I tried to take it, but there was no thread. It was one of their tests. They gave me a high dose of Distraneurin (note: this is a strong sedative used in acute alcohol withdrawal). The woman in the chair then stood up, smiled at me one last time behind the doctors and left the room; again through the wall.
I still remember her face as if it were yesterday. The other hallucinations were also gone immediately. That was probably the sign for the doctors that I was about to fall into a coma. My body was missing the alcohol it was used to, 15 hours after I was brought to the hospital in an ambulance.
Once again I was taken out of my flat because someone had called an ambulance. I was brought in on 08.01.2003 lying on my back with a bag in my hand and throwing up. The other patients made fun of me because I had never been clinically dead. And why I was there and not in a private clinic.
But the ambulance had taken me there with flashing blue lights. I had no influence at all on anything because I was also no longer responsive. Then they saw that my whole back was black, not blue. Black. I don’t know why. I had probably been lying on the floor in the hallway of my flat for two days without food and in delirium, as it turned out later. I also had pain above my right eye for days. I had probably hit the spot.
I was told that if you hit or bump yourself, you are extremely sensitive to bruises because of some blood platelets. In any case, I was x-rayed, detoxified and discharged on 22.01.2003; at home I immediately fell off the wagon despite this bad experience.
Two days later I was admitted there again, on 1 February 2003 I was discharged from detoxification and on 4 February 2003 I went to follow-up therapy in Wied. However, I could not stay sober there either. This only worked from 22.07.2004 until February 2008, when the doctor gave me the tramal prescription after an ENT operation. (Note: This is a benzodiazepine, i.e. a tranquilliser). Those were the first three and a half clean years in my life, if you don’t count kindergarten.
After my alcoholic delirium, I got down on my knees in the hospital and cried bitterly upwards for someone to help me NOW, if there is or someone. I was so desperate the next day. I knew I was going to die unless a miracle happened. But a miracle did happen afterwards.”