I’ve seen it all before.

I’ve definitely written this before. I remember sitting down, opening my laptop, typing “rainy mood” into google and listening to the white noise of rain to help me concentrate. I remember writing those previous lines. I remember having to huddle past my wife, who was having a zoom meeting in our living room because of the global pandemic, to pick up my headphones. I remember it all so clearly.

I haven’t written this before. Not a word of it. In spite of the fact that there is a bone-deep certainty to me that each thing I type is already sitting somewhere on my laptop; blogging by way of taking a brass rubbing.

For the past six or so years, I’ve experienced multiple episodes of déjà vu that have lasted around three days each, and I’m currently slap bang in the middle of one. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? 

“Oh no. I’ve got a bit of déjà vu” – “Has it happened before? Haha!” 

All fun and games. A bit of a daft laugh. Except with every word I type, I am convinced that I have written about this before. Not just tweets. Not just complaining to people on whatsapp. I am solidly, put-a-gun-to-my-head sure that this post already exists, even as I’m typing it out.

Déjà vu is always odd. Of course it is. The brain is a terrifying bag of damp meat and electricity, and humans are apes that have massively over complicated things and then made capitalism to live in to make things worse. (I’ve just checked my blog to see if this post is already up) However, déjà vu is usually fairly manageable. A brief, odd moment of “huh, how strange! Ah well!” Now imagine that sensation, but happening every half a second or so. Each waking moment either feels like it’s happened before, or feels like that strange flash of memory where you’re halfway through the day and you suddenly remember a forgotten dream, only in this case, the dream was about what just happened right this second.

Now have that happen for around seventy two hours or so. It is an incredible way to feel like your grasp of reality is slipping away before your very eyes. (I’ve just checked my ko-fi to see if I posted this there instead.)

The problem with this, apart from the obvious problem of feeling like you’re in The Matrix, if The Matrix was running on a bunch of Commodore 64s that had been taped together in a shed (I have DEFINITELY written this before. Where have I posted it? I’m going to look so STUPID when I post this twice for no reason!), is that you can’t really talk to people about it. “Hi. Sorry boss. I need to leave work. Why? Oh…err…I’ve got a bit of déjà vu”. That’s nothing! (I remember italicising that specific exclamation mark) That’s not a reason to leave work! Even though, in that particular instance, I couldn’t manage five seconds of coherent thought because everything felt like I was thinking through a funhouse mirror on a time delay. (I know I’ve used that analogy before.)

This has been happening for years, and I have no idea what it is.t first, I thought that it might have been a result of the traumatic brain injury I received from falling down a flight of stairs and cracking my skull. Maybe I’d bounced some epilepsy into myself? Luckily, I dump all my thoughts into Twitter, so a quick search showed that the first instance of this particular microhell occurred a few months before my accident. To double check, I went for an MRI last year. No sign of (I’ve just re-read my blogs to check that this isn’t there) any epilepsy, only the normal brain damage that comes with giving your noggin the old bonk.

So here I am! I have no idea what this is, or what it’s caused by! Is it stress? Is it stopping drinking after drinking too much for a few weeks? Am I actually a clairvoyant, but only with a reach of nanoseconds into the future? FUCK I’ve definitely written this before.

Looking on the bright side, I know this will pass. It always has before, after all. I just need to get through it. Book time off work. Sit and chill. Try to ignore the feeling that reality is cracking and hemorrhaging around me. God. One of the times this happened I decided to relax by playing Bloodborne. A game about being trapped in an endless, recurring nightmare and repeating the same actions over and over again. That was not a smart move. Especially when I looked outside and saw a red light hanging in the fog (red lights are used in Bloodborne to indicate where you can talk to NPCs), and completely forgot that my parents had bought me a colour-changing solar LED for the garden. That was a HOOT.

(I’ve just searched my emails for this piece. Nothing.)

I’m grateful that I know this will pass. I’m grateful that, at university, one of my modules was Philosophy of Mind, so I can take a moment to step back and reflect on what I’m feeling, and examine it in a slightly detached way. (Where did I save this blog? I know I’ve written it. Where is it?)

In a strange way, I’m also grateful for the Twitter wags and scamps who reply “You’ve said that before snort snort har har” whenever I post about the intense mental strain of being in the middle of three solid days of déjà vu. Yes it’s unhelpful, yes it feels like it’s a facile reduction of the genuinely quite frightening experiences I’m currently going through. But. It’s predictable. I know it’s going to happen. And, even better, I know it’s going to happen before it does, rather than knowing that it was going to happen after the fact.

I’ve written this before. I haven’t written this before. I know, deep down, that I’ve written this before. 

I haven’t.

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One Response to I’ve seen it all before.

  1. Hotel says:

    [Insert joke about making crosswords easier here.]

    Though does it actually rob you of the small buzz/eureka/satisfaction of answering a crossword clue if your brain instantly says “You already knew that answer”? Or do you get both: “Yes!” and “Oh :/” at the same time?

    My tangental and lesser reality-doubting anecdote: I was having the standard dream about needing to pee, but this time I actually started releasing the pee-muscle. Instantly my brain screamed “WAKE UP!” and I stopped myself in time. However, for a full week afterwards everytime I went to the bog my brain associated relaxing that muscle with “YOU ARE DREAMING! WAKE UP!”, a rush of adrenaline and having no idea if I was awake or not.

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