Not To Be Expected
She felt like a prisoner in her own mind. Blood pounded in her ears. Her heart thudded in her chest. Hands shook, and feet tingled. She had no idea what was going on and surely thought she was becoming crazy.
Everything started distorting itself as if life was being portrayed through a fish-eye lens; vision disfigured, stranded. She knew she needed help but what she would soon find out was nothing she could have ever expected.
Corner Of Her Eye
Jessie H. From Raleigh, NC, was walking to her car one day from work when she noticed something strange. In the corner of her eye she could distinctly see someone behind her, but then, as she turned around to face the stranger, nothing was there. Insecure and scared she couldn’t shake the feeling of being observed.
As she clutched her keys making a fist of them like a weapon, she knew that if she had to fight, she would. Little did she know it was a fight with herself.
When she got home, she tried to calm herself by preparing some herbal tea, but as soon as the kettle boiled, she could see the shadowy figure again right behind her. With a jump she turned around, it couldn’t possibly be that someone was in her home! Or could it? She dismissed the thought as she looked in every room for some kind of sign, but she didn’t find anything.
She went back for her cup of tea, her hands wrapped around it so tightly her nails dug into the porcelain mug. Her breathing was hard as if she had just run a marathon. She cried harder, her chest growing tight as bile rose in her throat. What was happening to her? And why was she seeing something in the corner of her eye? But, the next day and days after that are when everything took a turn for the worse.
The next morning, Jessie woke up to a surprise; “I found a yellow post-it note in a handwriting that wasn’t mine on my desk reminding me of some errands I had to do but told literally nobody about. While odd, I chalked it up to something I did in my sleep, thinking maybe in my half-awake state I scrawled it, so it didn’t appear to be my handwriting. I threw it out and thought little of it.” She states in a Reddit post she wrote.
As she said, she thought little of it, so continued with her day until something had her scrambling through the trash in search of the very first post-it.
As the day progressed, she didn’t encounter anything out of the ordinary, until she was watching tv in her living room and looked at the time on her phone, as the show she saw came to their break and proceeded with ads, she got up to use the bathroom. But as she went into the living room again, she didn’t think anything was strange as the ads on the TV kept running. But then, she got her phone and gasped.
Twenty minutes had passed, how on earth did she take 20 minutes in the bathroom? That couldn’t be right, plus the adverts were still on. As she paused her TV and rewound it, she saw that 20 minutes from her tv show had passed too. “When I looked back at my phone, 20 minutes had gone by. I was like “What Is Going On??” Jessie explains. “I then started missing huge chunks of time when I swear that only minutes passed by.” But what was happening to her? Was this all in her mind?
Pins and needles were all she could feel in her body, she didn’t know what to do. Something was wrong, but she had no idea how to tackle the situation. She thought this was all happening because of stress or sleep deprivation, so she dismissed the critical thought that something might really be wrong. But as she cleaned up her kitchen that night before going to bed, she opened the trash can and saw the post-it.
With no recollection of even having it, she was dazed. She reached for it and took a picture of the post-it, so she didn’t forget soon. It was this action in particular – documenting the notes – that would solve the mystery.
The next morning Jessie had to go to work, even though her focus was everywhere except her real responsibilities, she needed the distraction. As she walked to her car, she was scared. The anticipation of something happening was surrounding her like nervous energy, tingling through her as electric sparks gathering in her toes. And before she knew it, there it was again.
She knew she had to tackle this, whatever it was, so as she kept walking, she tried to focus on what she was seeing in the corner of her eye. But every time she moved her head slightly in any direction, the mystery figure disappeared. She thought she might be losing her mind, and if that was the case, she needed help, fast.
Her day at work came to an end, and she was relieved she hadn’t been spooked by anything at the office. The mystery that she would see out the corner of her eyes wasn’t there anymore. But as soon as she opened the door to her apartment, she saw it. “I found another post-it note on the back of my desk chair, in the same handwriting as the previous note, telling me to make sure I “saved my documents,” Jessie explains.
She was completely freaked out, and as she checked around her home, there were no signs of a break-in. She couldn’t take it anymore. Who was writing these notes? She set up a webcam that pointed directly at her desk and with an app on her phone, she could record everything. Little did she know how wrong she really was.
Jessie barely slept all night while she clutched her phone close to her chest. But as she finally started to drift off, her alarm beeped. She got out of bed with heavy bones and headed to the shower. Tiredness had come in both forms, mental and physical for her, but still, she persisted. Before hopping in the shower, she checked her phone to make sure she was on time. Again, minutes had gone by she didn’t even know were possible and couldn’t for the life of her explain them.
Exhausted and perplexed she went to work, but as soon as she got there, an immense headache made her its prisoner. Helpless in a cage of pain she was blinded by flashing colorful spots and craved utter darkness. She needed to get out of there, but what waited outside was far worse.
She told her boss she was not feeling right and headed out the door. The fresh air hit her face and relieved her migraine a little, but then an acrid smell loitered over her. An overpowering and reeking aroma filled her surroundings as she walked towards her car. She couldn’t take it anymore.
As she held her nose and looked around, no one else seemed to be bothered by the rancid aroma. She ran to her car with the urgent need to get home to safety, but as soon as she opened the door, there it was again.
Right on her desk, she could clearly see a piece of yellow paper. “Our landlord isn’t letting me talk to you, but it’s important we do.” Perplexed, she immediately checked the webcam folder where everything would have been saved from it. There was nothing on it. The recycling bin had also been emptied, and she was sure it wasn’t her. “They were just saved straight to a folder on my desktop called “Webcam,” Jessie explained.
Who was leaving these notes? And what did it have to do with the landlord? Exhausted, she headed for bed. Now she knew one thing, her landlord must be involved in this somehow.
She woke with sweat beginning to pour out of her, and she headed straight for the shower. As she looked at her iPad, she knew the time: 8:13 p.m. and played a song. She wanted to wash away the fear and cold sweat her body had produced, but still, she wanted to hurry to get to work. “Okay I have to be out of the shower in the next 13 minutes,” She thought to herself being meticulous.
“I listened to ONE song which was like 3 and a half minutes (it was a short song). Then I went to change the song, and it was 8:23 a.m.” This can’t be happening, she thought. “There was no way that 11 minutes went by when I only listened to a 3-and-a-half-minute song” She hopped out of the shower and broke down. But as she paced her bedroom such an incredible sense of dread washed over her…What was wrong with her? But she knew what she had to do next.
Tension grew in her face and limbs, her mind playing every possible scenario of what could be happening. Her breathing became rapid and shallow. She hit speed-dial for her mom, Debbie, no answer. She called again, her heart racing faster – no answer. Again – no answer. Again -no answer. No Debbie.
In seconds she was curled tight in her bed, her only movement the trembling of her limbs and salty tears falling off her skin. She grabbed her computer and opened Reddit. She knew she could share her thoughts and experiences and people could help her. Little did she know, this just might have saved her life.
Jessie started her post with “Some weird things have been happening to me recently. I don’t know if I’m losing my mind or what but for some time I’ve known that something is not right…” She then continues by explaining some of the particular things that have been happening.
“It all started about a month ago when I started always seeing stuff out of the corner of my eye. I could never tell what it was, but it was always “something.” But by the time I turned my head to observe whatever it was, there would be nothing there. This would happen to me multiple times a day but has recently kind of stopped and has been followed by even more weird stuff.” “I found a yellow post-it note in a handwriting that wasn’t mine on my desk reminding me of some errands I had to do, but told literally nobody about.”
A couple of users got back to her the same day telling her to go to the doctor. Others, feed her fear even more. “It’s possible that your landlord is leaving notes inside your apartment, but they don’t make any sense in the context you’re describing them. It’s likely that you are writing the notes yourself, but you are forgetting. Do you use post-it notes as reminders in any other parts of your life or job ?”
She called the police and told them everything, but they assured her that if she didn’t have proof, they couldn’t do much about it. They also explained that the best thing for her to do would be to go to the doctor. She mustered the strength and headed for the door. That day she got answers, but she would never have expected the cause.
When the doctor finally saw her, she poured her heart out telling him everything. He listened intently and then said something that changed her whole life. “Yes, this might be a mental health issue. You might be experiencing some sort of dissociative disorder. Or it might be a physical problem. You mentioned that you have a very unusual narrow bedroom with no windows; is there a chance that you are not getting enough ventilation when you sleep, or that there is a carbon monoxide leak in the building? A cheap CO detector is a fast way to find out. You’ll also have really bad headaches.”
As his answers lingered in her mind, she knew she would have to start to rule out some of the diagnosis. She headed to the first store she could think of and bought a carbon monoxide detector. Admittedly, she did not expect the reading on the machine.
She bought the CO detector and plugged it in. The machine would not stop beeping, and she thought it might be broken. As she took it back to the store and told the customer service person what had happened with it, he said something that immediately made her heart thump hard in her chest.
“The machine beeps when it detects a high level of CO like a fire alarm would indicate when it detects smoke.” Eyes wide she ran back to her house and plugged it in again, waiting for a reading.
“Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions and advised how to proceed– especially to those who recommended a CO detector… because when I plugged one in in the bedroom, it read at 100ppm.” Jessie posted on her Reddit thread. It turned out, all her symptoms and paranoia were due to CO poisoning, and if she had never posted to Reddit in the first place, she would have never known. Still, people are intrigued by her story.
Deborah Blum, a Redditor who is the director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and the author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, says the carbon monoxide explanation fits. When asked about the symptoms of low-grade carbon monoxide poisoning, Blum explains, “You might get headaches, you might feel a little groggier than usual. And depending on the chronic exposure, you can even become mentally-off, cognitively-impaired in some ways.” And Blum adds that, because carbon monoxide poisoning involves oxygen deprivation to the brain, it is possible to hallucinate.
Jessie called the police back and explained the whole case. They knew they had to do something as this was dangerous to everyone that had been in contact with the toxicity. They called back-up and found Jessie a place to stay while they barricaded her apartment up. “Yes, the notes were real, I did write them, and I forgot! As for their being notes on all the doors– I went so far as to put notes on my neighbor’s door, but not much further than that. I was on a corner– above the garage– so I only had one neighbor, who had headaches and not much more.”
“Actually, as it turns out, I never plugged it in. I just put it on a shelf, downloaded a webcam app to my phone, (which isn’t even compatible with an external webcam) and made a folder on my desktop called “WEBCAM”… then thought it was deleted when the folder was empty.” She continued to explain.
Following up on Jessie, she explained that even after a year she is still recovering. “It’s been almost a year now. While four months ago, things were rough, I’ve definitely made a significant improvement, and currently, there’s little reason to doubt a full recovery within a year.”
“I’m much better in both mood and physical health– through in this situation, those aren’t exactly separate categories! I will say, though, I use a Moleskine notebook daily planner thing now. (I do keep busy! Important for mental health!) I’m kind of done with post-it notes for a while!” “Overall, I’m happy” Jessie stated on her Reddit thread.