I have auditory hallucinations as a side effect of medication: It sounds like someone shouting into my ear at night

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I don't like to oversleep, but I don't usually set my alarm. About a week ago, I woke up around 3 a.m. and decided I'd like to get up at 7:30 a.m. Since I have an Amazon Echo on my bedside table, I cleared my throat and whispered, "Alexa, set an alarm for 7:30 a.m."

Instead of the usual, "Alarm set for 7:30 a.m." message I expected, I heard a voice stage whisper directly into my right ear. "Alexa, set an alarm for 7:30 a.m."

The voice sounded identical to my own. It was a little creepy, but I chalked it up to the medication I took at bedtime and fell back to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later, my alarm was not set.

If that had been the first time I experienced an auditory hallucination, I would have been terrified. Fortunately (?), it wasn't my first time at the rodeo.

I live with my parents, and my bedroom is directly off the kitchen. My father walks with a walker, and I regularly hear him walking past my bedroom in the middle of the night. When I mentioned this to my mother, she assured me he hadn't gotten out of bed the entire night.

He can't get out of bed without assistance, so she would have known if he was up. I believed her, of course, but I still believed my ears.

The next few times I thought I heard my father drag his walker past my closed bedroom door, I got out of bed, opened the door, and looked out into the kitchen. There was never anything there.

I installed a Blink security camera outside the door of my bedroom. It has night vision. When I hear someone walk past my bedroom in the middle of the night, I check the camera. There's never anyone there.

One morning, I heard my parents in the kitchen. I heard them laughing and talking. I heard the sound of the coffeepot gurgling and the squeak of the sticky kitchen silverware drawer opening and closing. I even heard the toaster knob being turned. It was all clear as a bell.

When I opened my bedroom door, I saw the kitchen was empty. I tiptoed to my parents' bedroom, and they were both sound asleep. I asked my mother when she woke up, just to be sure.

On more than one occasion, I heard someone shout directly into my ear in the middle of the night. I've heard heavy footsteps on the roof and footsteps on the wall above my bed. Sometimes, it rattles me, especially if I have to get up to use the bathroom.

When I hear something out of the ordinary, I just chalk it up to unwanted side effects, pull the blankets over my head, and try to fall back asleep. Usually, I do.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What caused it? Comments are welcome.

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Ordained Minister, Universal Life Church

Massachusetts State

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