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R          You were wanting a lawyer because you thought that everybody was out to get you; unfortunately because she was so unable to communicate it was very difficult to know what she was saying at all, let alone – let alone whether it made sense [both laugh]. But often what came through was something completely confused.

L          …I was lying in an attic, where it was all dark; there was nobody else there except this nurse who would …come in from time to time… and I didn’t want her because I thought she was against me – it was awful. [laughs] I don’t know even whether she existed; she might not have existed…it was like a loft. I think I even lay across the rafters…

But some of my worst fears came out. I ended up on a kind of a heap of rubbish, of my old company; and I was constantly put on the spot – I was the only person there pretty well – it went on for hours and hours this dream, as well – it was really long:
First of all [a friend] and I sat down together – and we had a little dream together, and then it all sort of took off…
This family turned up for dinner, and she started to cook for them, and then… and then I found myself in charge of this failing company, sitting on this pile of rubbish [laughs] and they kept saying ‘look, you’ve got to sign this contract’, because nobody else would do it …and then my name appeared in the newspapers – and it was really derogatory, it was picking out all the worst characteristics about myself, and I thought ‘oh no’, and then I kept wondering why my brother hadn’t spoken to me and then I realised …it was because he was absolutely furious, that all this had come out in the newspapers.

I don’t know how it finished, but it went on and on and on, and it was all so real.

It feels like a dream now… [but] quite a lot of this stuff I’ve had to talk to [my husband] about, to just bring me back down to reality.

R          If you go back to much nearer the time, she was really struggling – even when we got home she would say ‘did this happen?’ because it was so real.
You were convinced that you had – one of our dearest and oldest friends – you thought that you’d been awful to them. To the point that the only way I could get round it was to speak to these folks to say ‘can you reassure [her]?’…
There was a definite distinctiveness, particularly with that long spell in ICU where there was what we understand now is the classic ‘they’re out to get me’ – these strange, terribly intense experiences that seem to be just dreams – unpleasant ones – but are just so intensely real that – that you don’t know what they are…

L          Sometimes you get real people in there and sometimes you get unreal …the nurse, I don’t know that she was a real person.
I suppose it was mostly people that I know, but situations that were totally un-known.  Like this heap of rubbish was in the middle of a wood, and it was damp – [laughs] and that was part of the problem – with the company – that it was sort of founded on a damp site. It was like a clearing in a wood, with me sitting on top, and not many other members of staff still there – they’d all left, as you can imagine.
They are like dreams, but the power of them and the impact that they made on me was very, very strong. More so than the wishy-washy things that you dream at night, definitely – like you are gripped with terror, and that sort of thing, you know, or horror. And you’ve got heightened emotions I would say, yeah. Definitely.

It’s just a bit of a laugh really now. I thought it was going to be etched in my mind forever but it’s – some of it’s going, actually… it’s good.

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