Prelude:

It’s important to remember that I wrote this more than 18 months ago. The experience took place several years before that time. Yes, I realize this piece may sound . . . a little odd. 😊

Part II Recap:

Even if I had known what was going to happen, I could not have prepared myself for the rollercoaster of change that would begin to take place before the next Sunrise. The opportunity to look back had slipped away.

Part III

I must begin by saying, much of what happened to me cannot be disclosed here at this time. Although, a few of the slightly spooky and shocking details have made their way into my novel. It seemed like a good idea since a large percentage of what I’ve experienced may come across as fiction to some readers. Posting something only to trigger a response of, “okay, that’s not possible,” would be disappointing.

Several years ago, I began using the term [level ups]. Yes, I highjacked it from video games. I needed something for reference. A way to explain things if only to myself. It’s a funny thing, knowing Donkey Kong had it right all along.

Almost overnight, my ability to discern accelerated to a level beyond anything I had experienced. An enhanced connection to my environment began to take place, pushing my previous life farther and farther out of reach. This connection is difficult to explain without sounding like I may have lost touch with reality. Until then, I’d always considered my mind unbreakable. I learned that is not the case. I can still visualize the night that I realized how wrong I had been.

My buddy was driving. I was sitting in the front passenger seat of his car, exhausted from months of relentless discovery. I had laid my head on my hands in the window so I could feel the night air. I remember thinking, “This is how it feels to be right on the edge and staring at the potential for madness. I have to choose ignorance over losing my mind.”

Things continued like that for another three years. You don’t know what you’re capable of surviving until you must. I didn’t lose my mind, but I did catch a glimpse of what such a loss might look like, and it’s terrifying. There are no words to describe what I experienced. I cannot think of a movie for comparison. Maybe this will help though. For those of you who have tried a psychedelic drug at some point during your life, imagine what it would be like if that trip lasted for years. Similar to psychedelic microdosing for four consecutive years, but without the use of the drug. Similar to that but much stronger, and everything was real. By the way, the drugs I have done do not contribute to what I’ve experienced. Furthermore, when I did use drugs like LSD during high school, my experiences seemed to be different than my friend’s. I did not hallucinate.

Since then, there have been several plateaus requiring me to draw a line in the sand. These short breaks have been necessary. Giving me an opportunity to survey my surroundings. The last one was nearly 18 months ago and manifested while I was sleeping. I woke up during the night to what is best described as an [anxiety attack]. I spent at least an hour walking off my incredibly panicked state of mind. I remember feeling like the sky was falling.

Joseph Shanklin

August 25, 2020

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