Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
The last few weeks have been a nightmare. A terrible, terrible nightmare. I’m still pinching myself every now and then, hoping to wake up. Sadly, it only leads to the skin of my arms being extremely red.
I guess I’ll just start by introducing myself. I’m a father of two, a husband to a lovely wife. That may seem like a great life to some, but to me, even though I love them dearly, it’s been incredibly stressful. You see, I’m a construction worker. I never went to college or high school because I wanted to pursue a career in music (which didn’t turn out so well, obviously). 9 years ago, I married the love of my life. 8 years ago, we had our daughter. 5 years ago, we had our son. 2 years ago, my wife, who used to be a high school teacher, lost the use of her legs in a car accident that killed her sister. She was driving from her mother’s birthday party, which I didn’t attend because I was taking care of the kids (my wife doesn’t trust babysitters ever since that one episode of The Simpsons). It was late at night, both her and her sister had a bit too much to drink and, well… the doctor said she could never fully recover.
The medical bills have been insane, and I haven’t been able to pay them with my income. I can just feed my family every day, but only just. I’ve been stressed out the last 2 years. I do get panic attacks sometimes when I think too much about it. I’ve also been sleeping very badly the last 2 years.
A friend and colleague of mine knows this about me. He’s a great guy, helping me and my family out whenever it gets too rough. He knows I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress. He says he can see it taking a physical toll on me. One day, he came with a recommendation. A new phenomenon he read about, or so he said (he probably is too embarrassed to say that he just enjoys listening to it in his downtime). ASMR, short for “autonomous sensory meridian response,” though he just called it “tingly goodness.” He told me that it was a great stress-reliever, that it worked for him too. He gave me simple instructions: go to YouTube, question myself what has given me the “tingles” before, and search for it. That night, I decided to do as he said, because I’m pretty desperate for stress relievers.
I thought about what gave me those “tingles” before. I remembered my grandmother, who used to whisper in herself as she got older (God knows why), which gave me those “tingles” my friend described. So I typed in: “Whisper ASMR.” I clicked the first video and it worked its magic. Tingles all over my body. I searched for more videos, and more, and more, until I got addicted. And the next night, I did the same thing. I listened to ASMR until I got a bit desensitized. I kept clicking videos, but they were having no effect on me anymore.
At least, until I found a video by a channel called “Heavenly Whispers ASMR.” The video consisted of a girl with her strange microphone with two ears on each side, who was wearing a black top, had black hair, and didn’t reveal the part of her face above her red lips. Her whispers were magic, although unintelligible. I probably sat there for hours listening to the videos of this mysterious girl. Luckily, she had a lot of videos on her channel. The tingles were intense. I was in heaven, floating away from all my troubles. I almost fell asleep behind my PC. I got up and went to bed once I saw that it was 1 AM already.
Lying in bed, I was ready to go to sleep. I closed my eyes. Now, normally, there’s silence once you’re the last in your home to go to sleep. However, once I closed my ears, I heard whispers. Unintelligible whispers. Confused, I opened my eyes again. The whispers were gone. I was pretty convinced that I heard those whispers, just as I heard them when I was listening to that girl’s videos. Closed my eyes and heard the whispers again. I tried to ignore them this time. Who knows, maybe there was a logical explanation. There had to be.
The next morning, the whispers were gone. I really longed for them again, however. So, on my way to work, I put in my earphones and listened to her videos. I was really addicted and listening to them a lot didn’t lessen the tingles. The 50th video was still as effective as the first. On my way home, I listened to it again. It got me in a pretty good mood, actually, which was something my wife noted when I came home. I just felt so incredibly happy.
That night, I listened to some of her videos before going to bed again. These ones were a bit different. A lot of “sss” sounds, almost snake-like. They were incredible, but I couldn’t help feeling pretty uncomfortable when I went to sleep. Pretty paranoid, for some strange reason. And once again, when I closed my eyes, I heard the whispers. However, when I opened them again, they didn’t go away. It was pretty scary, looking around the room but hearing those unintelligible whispers right in my ear. They didn’t disappear the next morning either. I was eating breakfast, not hearing my wife or kids through the whispers in my ear. At the construction site, they blocked out the loud noises of the machine. On my way to and from work, I put on the loudest rock music I could find, but the whispers were still louder. I was getting pretty annoyed. I remember having a pretty short fuse once I got home, which scared my children and caused my wife to be worried about me. That night, I tried to flush out these whispers with different kinds of ASMR: fabric cutting, tapping, and such stuff. However, I had no success. The whispers in my ear where still there, all through the night, and the next morning too.
The next day, something happened that gave me goosebumps. I came home from a long day of work, annoyed with the whispers, when my kids came out to hug me once I got out of my car. We went inside, I cooked dinner (as usual), and then I went to my PC again to look up some solutions for the whispers. That’s when my son came to me with a question that really confused me. He looked at me, very confused, and asked, “Daddy, who was that woman in your car?”
Now, that’s a pretty weird question since there was no woman in my car, so I asked him what woman he was talking about. “The one with the black hair,” he responded.
I was pretty confused, but I assumed it was just some weird game or whatever. He just kept asking, however. “Daddy, the woman with black hair and the red lips.” I got goosebumps once I heard him say that, but I just responded by saying that there was no woman in my car and that it was his bedtime.
That night, I was trying to sleep despite the whispers, when I heard the door to my bedroom open. Curious, I raised my head and looked in the direction of the door, where my daughter stood.
“Hey sweetie,” I said quietly, “what’s the matter?”
She just stood there, however, and I could see that she was crying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked again.
“There’s… There’s someone in my room,” she responded.
“Everyone’s asleep honey, there’s nobody in your room.”
“There is. A woman. She’s been saying things.”
“What’s she saying, sweetie?”
“I don’t know. She’s whispering.”
Now, if you ever wanted to see a grown man almost shit his pants, that would have been your chance. I couldn’t sleep that night. Not just the whispers interrupting the silence, but the whispers reminding me of what both my son and daughter told me today. I’ve never felt so strange. I felt like I was a kid again, afraid of the dark and the monsters under my bed. I got goosebumps all over my body, especially my legs.
That night was horrible. I called in sick that day, because I didn’t sleep at all and was feeling ill because of it. I’m pretty sure I would have fallen asleep behind the wheel if I drove to work today, or that I would have killed someone with some tools because I was so frustrated at everything and everyone. I asked my neighbors to take the kids to school, while I was in bed all day, trying to get some sleep. But my thoughts were clouded with confusion and fear.
I can’t remember when exactly, but I finally fell asleep. In my dream, the whispers continued and I saw her red lips and black hair. I woke up, sweating. It was dark both inside and outside. Downstairs, I could hear my neighbors talking, probably helping out while I was trying to get some sleep today. I heard my wife talking and laughing, which was strange, because I could feel an arm on my chest. I could feel a warm breath in my neck. I could hear the whispers coming from the same direction as the breath.
I looked into her dark face, with her red lips, and her blue eyes. I screamed and ran out of the bedroom, downstairs, almost falling of the stairs. I really couldn’t explain what happened to the neighbors, my wife, or my kids. It was pretty embarrassing, but I didn’t feel embarrassed. I was scared.
It’s been six days now since this occurred. I can still hear the whispers. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get rid of them. And I’m pretty sure I’ll never get rid of that feeling that I’m never alone. There’s one thing I’m sure of: I’ll never listen to ASMR again.