I’m going to say I’m thinking these thoughts I’m going to express because I have a wicked migraine right now with a wicked trippy visual aura. Kind of annoying really because the vertigo keeps tilting things periodically, but that aside, I’m going to get philosophical on you all.
Rene Descartes said we have to doubt our senses because we could be dreaming. It was his concept of radical doubt… if it could be doubted it should be doubted. So if I could be dreaming right now, then how can I know that what I sense to be true (Feel. See. whatever) is true. Some dreams trick you and that is precisely his point. Some Twilight sleep phenomena where you are not quite awake and not quite asleep, and we can hallucinate… can also trick us. Ever hear someone knock on the door or the doorbell in bed in the morning or falling asleep and there isn’t anyone there? Or hear your name called out? That is a common Twilight sleep phenomena (hypnagogic phenomena).
Now I must admit I have had a few incidents that occurred when waking, or in the middle of the night when woken up that do not fit into sleep paralysis quite, since I wasn’t stuck physically but might have been a similar Twilight Sleep, where a lot of weird phenomena can occur that messes with your head.
Here is a good example of hypnagogic phenomena
It occurred in a house we were sure was haunted. I was sleeping and I woke up as I often do groggy and half-aware, felt someone looking at me and saw a male figure in the corner. Thought it was my boyfriend and settled to be back to sleep. Then woke up with someone sitting on the bed with their hand under my cheek, between me and the pillow. I thought that was weird but I also thought I was drooling so I brushed the arm away embarrassing and it left. As in the hand left without the sensation of moving away and someone got off the bed without making a sound or anything. I opened my eyes and there was no one there. I searched the whole damned house and no one was home. Ghost or hypnagogic sleep phenomena?
The second one is migraine-related, which is my next point. Ghost? Migraine hallucination?
I was on the computer and I heard this click, static, click static noise. The only logical place it could be coming from was the speakers I wasn’t using. So I lean in to see if it is them. Then I swear I hear two little girls giggling. My head snaps back, freaked the hell out. And I say out loud ‘If there is anyone here, flicker the light’. And all be damned the light flickers. Like a fzzt snap flicker that isn’t the bulb for sure. Only the one in my office. So complex migraine hallucination? Ghost?
Now where Rene Descartes was right to doubt the senses is with us migraines sufferers… he really ought of used us as a primary example.
We can doubt our senses all the time. We get faulty information all the time. What though about the visual auras we see?
I found a website a while back of a man who believed the sparkles from visual snow (constant visual static in the vision) were real and mystical. Could I say he is wrong? He sees them. He believes they are outside of him. I tease my boyfriend and say maybe I’m seeing billions of particles of matter of billions of teeny tiny fairies. But the fact remains if I believed my senses and seeing is believing then the billions of sparkles would have to be something other than my brain misfiring. That one fellow believed that to be true.
Here is the thing though. When I was younger I believed something similar. When I was a kid I used to think I saw real auras of the mystical sort of people and plants and animals… and I had no idea about my migraines then or auras or even migraines. I wasn’t getting migraines yet. Maybe silent ones? The aura is called a corona aura and it creates the illusion of, well, lights around objects. The auras I thought were mystical were always there. A person had a white light around them and a little flame of light on there head and would bob around when they moved. For some, it was a larger flame. Some people had colours most did not. I thought it was pretty cool.
Now that I get so very many auras, and visual distortions where things move and warp and twist I have no idea what they were. But I do know I still see it, not as well as I used to but whatever that was I still see it. So as a child, I thought it was real. But in fact, it is a type of migraine aura potentially. Even though I wasn’t getting migraines with headaches, apparently I was getting a sort of persistent migraine aura. That in itself is exceptionally odd. And would be very rare indeed. As rare as seeing a mystical aura I suppose, if people can see them. I do have persistent migraine auras which developed when I went chronic, later. But if you count the corona aura, then I have had persistent migraine auras since I was 11. My first migraine with aura and headache was when I was 20.
Let’s face it, some auras we Hunt for like they are real.
I get an olfactory aura that smells like something is rotten. I look for it. All over the place. But it isn’t real. I get one of burning and Of Course, I look for it, again, not real.
I’ll refuse to eat something, meat usually, that I insist has gone rancid. My spouse tells me it definitely has not, but I Taste it.
I get this auditory aura of a music box sound. I looked everywhere for what could be making that sound. The radio that plays in the bedroom all the time. The TV (some commercial?). An actual music box that I had somewhere. Could never find it. It sounded so real.
Sometimes when your brain does funny things it is hard to tell. Sleep-wake states can cause some very weird things. I have had a lot of weird things happen in them. Not to mention very weird sleep paralysis experiences. Migraine hallucinations generally we do in fact know they are not real. I see a vortex in the sky and I know that is my brain misfiring. But I hear something odd and it might not be immediately apparent. I smell cooking and I go into the kitchen fully expecting my spouse to be cooking but no one is home. And, yeah, sometimes I wonder about the ghost thing. I really, really wonder. I have had some bizarre experiences. But then again, I Know how the brain can trick us.
Well, Rene has a solution for us. I think, therefore I am. I perceive, therefore I am. We are grounded in reality because it is the ‘I’ that is there to perceive reality. But we get tricked sometimes. Reality can be a really trippy place with our brains. The brain is that which perceives and the brain, well, in all of us just gets tricked sometimes. With optical illusions. With sleep-state phenomena. With all sorts of weirdness. And with migraines… more so. So, yes, I am the I that perceives reality but sometimes that I, well, it gets a wee bit confused.