face beneath this mask [but it isn’t me]

*names have been altered to maintain anonymity

Patient XXX
Recording 01
2:01 pm

[recording starts]

Amy: Our sessions are going to be recorded for review by one of our senior staff. The tapes won’t ever be distributed or published; the confidentiality will be intact, but all my sessions have to be recorded to monitor my performance. Is that alright with you?

X: Sure.

Amy: Go ahead and verify your name and date of birth for the camera, please. [REDACTED], January 17, 1979.

Amy: Thank you. And, for the record, my name is Amy Hampton*. Okay [shuffling]. Alrighty. For our first session, I’m going to let you steer the discussion in whatever direction you like. Maybe just starting with what made you decide to come in.

X: Okay. I’ve, uhm, I’ve been having really terrible nightmares. I think I’m stressed out or something, I’m always tired and distracted at work.

Amy: Good start. Do you remember when the nightmares started?

X: Yeah, about two weeks ago. They were vague for the first few days, just normal running away from stuff and falling type dreams. After a few nights though they started to get weirder and more specific, I guess. I was always in my room – like, my room, not a dream version of it – and I was frozen in my bed and so so scared. I couldn’t move or scream or wake up or anything.

AMY: [scratches of pen on paper] Sounds like sleep paralysis. It’s very common, but definitely still upsetting. Keep going, [xxx].

X: Okay. Uhm, what made me want to come in was this feeling that I started having. Sometimes, during the nightmares, I feel like someone’s there.

AMY: There?

X: In my house. Outside of my window. Just there, like a shadow, pacing and staring at me. I don’t always know where they’re at and I don’t know who they are. I can’t always see it, either, but I always know it’s there. Sometimes I don’t think I’m asleep, it feels so real. But I have to be, right? I don’t know. The fear is so real. It’s the only dream I’ve had in almost a month.

AMY: Does the shadow interact with you?

XXX: No. Not yet. I think it’s trying to.

[end recording]

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