As the mad scientist said to the minion…..

I’m a writer, which means I’m an artist, which means I’m supposed to be a little crazy, right? Crazy enough to volunteer for a seven-day sleep deprivation residency, anyway.

So while it struck me as eminently sensible that everyone going into the centre should be checked out for the crazies, it did seem a process destined to fail. I totally endorse a process emphasising false positives over false negatives (who wants to spend a week with the psycho who slipped through the net?), but if you tune the psychological evaluation the wrong way absolutely no one would ever get in.

My psych exam was today. I’ve never undergone any kind of rigorous psychological testing before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I figured it’d amount to ticking some boxes and playfully attempting to decode the author of the exam’s intentions when she asks things like “Have you ever dreamed of kicking a tortoise?” or “Which would you choose between a Mars Bar and Tim Tam?” But who knew? I could’ve been grilled by a flinty-eyed Freudian who (like one shrink I did see a long time ago) wanted to know whether I was breastfed by my mother.

Turns out there was a little sheet to fill in. Simple, straightforward questions, easy to answer. I live in a state of low-level anxiety, particularly when travelling overseas as I was last week, so there was that to report. But nothing like the crippling panic attacks of twenty years ago. I had to tick a few 1s instead of 0s, here and there. I’m fairly certain that 3s would’ve been bad.

From there it was just a matter of chatting (with the not-at-all flinty Dr Sarah Blunden, Research Fellow in Paediatric Sleep) through any specific anxieties I had. And honestly, I have a couple. I’m going to be spending a week confined with three people I don’t know in a space I haven’t seen, where there will be no clocks and I won’t have any control over meal content or timing. As someone who has never lived in a share house and loves a good routine almost as much as cooking and My Very Own Study, that’s going to be a bit weird.

But the constant 21 degrees C? Brilliant. The low lighting? Bring it on. The excuse to do nothing but write? Awesome. And SCIENCE! For every point I’m a tad leery of there are two to make me excited. Even clipping my hair back to the skin, as I’ve been doing lately, turns out to be a good thing, as that helps the EEG thingos stick better.

So there you have it.

I’ve been looking forward to this for so long, I’m not letting a small thing like my sanity get in the way! (as the mad scientist said to the minion)

Sean Williams 

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