My Adventures in Wonderland
Otherwise known as “Am I tripping balls or are my fingers really that smalls?”
I could usually feel it coming on. My descent down the rabbit hole was a gradual one, never quite “Oh my god where am I what’s going on”, but more “Ah shit, here we go again”. Not scary. Most of the time.
Objects in front of me would seemingly grow further and further away. My perspective became warped, and everything became tiny. Furniture previously just a few feet away looked impossibly distant; objects on my desk felt several arms’ length away. I could still reach out to grab them, though. Still tethered to reality, just a little less than normal.
For the first time in years, I felt like Alice this morning (surprise! that’s what prompted this). At this point you’re probably thinking, “Boz has lost his marbles. This is worse fiction than that stupid cups story!” but unfortunately this is a bit too lame to be made up.
Enter Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS). It’s generally described as perceiving objects as larger or smaller (mostly smaller in my case), also associated with migraines (not something I get) and a distortion of time (well, this one I do get). It’s a fleeting experience, lasting approximately half an hour. According to what I’ve read, it’s more common the younger one is, which is consistent with my experience.
I don’t recall specific experiences as a kid, but some common traits stick out. It would happen every couple of months. I was never in a high-stakes environment, usually it’d be dark, and I always knew when it was coming on. Time would begin to feel strange, but not exactly faster or slower. A subtle rhythmic feeling occupied the back of my mind. My limbs would being looking and feeling smaller, but sometimes bigger if it lasted a while. My fingers would look like little twigs, my phone looked absurdly small. Vision wasn’t impaired, as I could still read text and images as normal, but it felt different. Occasionally, my sense of taste got warped, feeling like I had rocks on my tongue (not the best).
As I grew older, I gradually learned what to expect when this came on. I also experienced it less and less (something consistent with other accounts of AIWS), which is why this morning’s episode was a bit of a surprise. I was staring at Microsoft Teams on my computer, and people’s profile icons started to look further and further away. I knew I was in for it, and though I’d learned to fight it off in my teens, I embraced it this time.
Starting at 10:30 am, I unfocused my vision, sat back and relaxed. Sticky notes on my wall shrank. My computer monitor turned the size of an index card. My phone looked like it was 1/3 the size, and felt significantly lighter in my hand. My leg was the size of a toothpick. Fingers turned more into noodles. As I stood in the middle of my room, it felt several hundred feet wide.
I’d read that changes in light can put it to an end, and unfortunately I had a meeting to get to. As I flipped my light switch a few times, I was brought back. 11:00 am, back out of the rabbit hole.