The train platform felt like a floating boat dock, surging and swaying underfoot. This was bad. I struggled to keep my balance, trying hard not to stumble while standing still. The surrounding people must have thought I was drunk, which wouldn’t have been out of place on that Friday night in Roppongi.
During my last class, as my student was working on a listening exercise, I had nodded off. It was a micro sleep, lasting only a second, but when I snapped out of it, some parts of my brain remained asleep. I had tunnel vision, and strange shapes hovered in the periphery. I heard things I knew weren’t real.
When insomnia becomes severe, your reality distorts, turns itself inside out. I knew I was becoming irrational. I knew I was falling apart. My ability to think clearly was disappearing. In this state, I couldn’t communicate clearly enough with my girlfriend, and she disappeared, too.
The hallucinations scared me, but they refused to disappear. Instead, they followed me home that night. And then, nearly home, I blacked out entirely. I was leaving the train station, and then I was unlocking my door. I had no memory of the intervening fifteen minutes. This scared me.
The blackout was the last straw. I collapsed on the bed, sobbing. The sleep deprivation had fully broken me. I cried harder and for longer than I’d cried about breakups or deaths. I cried myself sick. And eventually, finally, I cried myself to sleep.