I am dying.
No, scratch that; I’m already dead. I’ve been dead for a long time. I just didn’t know it. But now my body is shutting down. My flesh is rotting away. I can no longer move around or even leave this bed. The doctors have given up on me. There is nothing anyone can do but wait.
I guess I might as well tell my story.
It began this past January, when I woke up one morning and felt… off, somehow. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something wasn’t right. Stumbling to the bathroom, I looked in the mirror and was shocked at how pale I’d become. My skin had taken on a sickly grey pallor that couldn’t be explained by a lack of sunlight alone. I splashed water on my face and took a hot shower, but the colour still didn’t return to my cheeks.
As the morning wore on, I became aware of how dulled my senses were. Colours looked muted, sounds were faint and distorted, and I couldn’t smell the smog from the city busses or the coffee in my local Starbucks. As usual, I took the bus to work, and watched the city sweep by with dull eyes. There was a sense of fatigue deep inside my bone marrow, and I couldn’t seem to shake it off.
When I got to the office building where I worked as an accountant, I immediately immersed myself in work. I took calls, answered e-mails, and added up transactions, all the while feeling lifeless and detached from reality. When a colleague made a snide remark about me being a woman in a male-dominated work environment, I didn’t so much as shoot a burning glare his way. I simply didn’t have the energy to care.
Normally, I would have assumed I was coming down with the flu, but other than my pale skin and sluggishness, I had no symptoms of any illness-at least, none that I knew of. I considered calling my doctor, but decided to wait a few days and see if I improved on my own.
That Saturday, I went out to get drinks with my group of friends, figuring a little fun might revive me. In order to counteract the ugly pallor of my skin, I applied copious amounts of blush to my cheeks. Since I didn’t usually wear that much makeup, the girls noticed, and asked me about it.
“Haven’t you noticed what I look like?” I exclaimed. “I’m completely washed-out!”
“No, you aren’t,” said Savannah, my best friend. “You look great.”
“Don’t just say that to make me feel better.”
“I’m not! You don’t look pale, Lara.”
The others agreed. I was confused. Could this all be in my head? But what about the sluggishness? The dulled sentences? The constant fatigue? Was it all just my mind fucking with me?
Finally, I caved and made an appointment with my doctor. She ran a battery of tests, all of which came back negative. “Maybe you aren’t getting enough vitamins,” she suggested. “Try switching up your diet a little.”
I began to take supplements and made sure I was getting enough vitamin C and protein, but it didn’t help. I began to lose weight. My lips became perpetually cracked, and my hair appeared to be thinning. Nobody but me noticed anything physically wrong-not even my own family.
I grew used to the perpetual fatigue, but my senses were getting worse. I felt so detached that I no longer had emotions. One evening, while out for dinner with Savannah, I saw my ex-boyfriend, George, with another woman. I recognized her as a girl he’d met the summer before, when we took a road trip to New Orleans. I felt no anger, no jealousy. Just… nothing.
“I think you’re depressed,” Savannah told me.
“I don’t think so,” I muttered. I wasn’t unhappy. I was too numb to be sad.
My physical condition worsened. Three months after the symptoms first began, I was down two dress sizes and had lost so much hair I had to buy a wig. I looked like a walking corpse, and still, nobody noticed. Desperate, I began to do my own research, and came across something called the “Cotard delusion”, or “Walking Corpse Syndrome.”
Walking Corpse Syndrome delusion is a mental illness in which a person believes themselves to be dead, or lacking blood and organs. It’s rare, but for those suffering from the delusion, it’s horrifying.
I wondered if Walking Corpse Syndrome was the explanation for my strange affliction. I certainly felt like I was dead, and since nobody else saw the physical changes I had undergone, maybe I was just insane. Although the possibility didn’t quite add up with my current situation, I went to a psychiatrist. He labeled me a hypochondriac and put me on anti-anxiety pills.
They didn’t help.
One day at work, my boss called me into his office. He was worried about me because I looked so thin.
The decaying began a month or two later. Patches of my skin would turn black and disintegrate. I lost sensation in my hands and feet. The smell of rotting meat formed a fog around me. I had lost so much weight I resembled a skeleton rather than a human. My eyes had receded inside my skull, my teeth were turning yellow, and I could barely even walk.
Finally, I was checked into the hospital. Test after test revealed nothing. No medication helped. Surgery to remove the necrotic tissue failed. I overheard a doctor describe me as a “living corpse.” Even though I was technically alive, my body was in a state of post-mortem decay. None of it made sense.
Two months ago, I was sent home to die.
I don’t have much time left. I can’t bring myself to care about my impending death. I haven’t felt anything real in so long…
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how this could have happened. Before it all began, I was healthy, both mentally and physically. Although I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic, I’m beginning to believe there are other forces at work.
When George and I went down to New Orleans over a year ago, we walked into a strange little shop run by an old lady who claimed to be a witch. When I laughed at her, she glared at me with the intensity of a thousand suns, and muttered something that sent chills down my spine.
Credit: Cynic Happy