Death of Touch and other side effects

by Prenesa Naidoo

Content warning: Discussion of self harm and depiction of mental illness.

Death of Touch

Green and white tic-tacs.


1. Rapid heart rate, throat closure, dizziness. Also known as panic attacks. Can occur while holding your boyfriend’s hand at a charity fair when you are next in line for the Ferris Wheel.
2. Elevated mood and self-esteem followed by a slump. Also known as manic behaviour. Can present as obsessively cleaning your house for three days after which you’re holding a jar of flour that crashes to the floor. Like you.
3. Slitting of wrists on a bathroom floor at midnight. Can occur five minutes into your 23rd birthday.

Side effects:
1. Death of touch. No sexual desire.
2. Every sound, every movement, every decision fills you with terror. e.g. a knock on your front door.


Little white mentos.


1. You feel like you are not living, or that you’re too alive. Can occur when you’re watching a movie one night; one moment it’s pointless, the next you’re researching whether it is based on a true story.
2. You feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Can present when your eyes light up while talking about your favourite book with a friend. The fall comes when the friend looks at their watch while you are speaking. The fall makes you feel unseen.
3. You are triggered by small things. e.g. peeling an apple at the sink, instead of the one long peel that you were working on, it snags and tears in two. You throw the apple into the window.

Side effects:
1. Agitation. Aggressively pushing your partner away as he helps you into bed.
2. Insomnia. Your eyes grow more accustomed to the dark, it feels like a warm blanket and a nightmare.
3. Confusion. Inability to recall whether you prefer being barefoot or not.

The Voices in your Head

Yellow m&ms.


1. Delusions of grandeur. Overnight you become Cleopatra. You recall the death of your father, how you became queen at eighteen, how your twelve-year-old brother exiled you. And how you went into battle to reclaim your throne.
2. The billboard advertising American Psycho becomes a warming just for you. You sympathise with Patrick Bateman; he is just another misunderstood person. Later in bed, you change your mind. Patrick Bateman is hiding in the bush just beneath your window.
3. Hallucinations. The peace lily plant gets up and dances on the coffee table. She says her name is “Pily”. You don’t like it. The next day you ask your parents if they could call you by that name.

Side effects:
1. Catatonia. Spending hours on the branch of a tree in the backyard. You are upside down; you like the rush of blood to your head as your feet run over the rough wood.
2. Perseveration. You slip “never trust a doctor who wears green socks” into every conversation you have.