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Warning! Objects in Brain Larger (or Smaller) Than They Appear

We are finally feeling the winter weather as we should have been since the middle of November. Up until three days ago, we were having 50-60* weather and storms – but the current cold front moved through and for the last three days, it’s been cold and windy. Naturally with such a drastic change in the weather pattern comes my migraines and they have been some of the worst I’ve had in a while.

Wednesday’s migraine hit me like a lightning bolt, quite possibly one of the most violent attacks I’ve had in a while. I’ve been working on transcribing my migraine journals into one notebook and that’s what I was working on but shortly after the man of the house left to help a friend around 5:30pm, I had one suddenly blindside me so quickly that I barely had any time to react. But what made this one more disturbing than some was the sudden Alice in Wonderland sensations I had to endure while I stumbled to get my meds. This jacked up my anxiety level to the highest as the bottles suddenly began to grow in size and my hands began to shrink. It took several long, excruciating moments to work through what I was seeing and feeling before I had the meds in my hands, all the while the house getting bigger and bigger as I got infinitely smaller and smaller.

I would end up taking almost fifteen minutes just to get the two little pills out of their bottles and into my mouth, they felt incredibly heavy and was very large in my tiny little hands. I then had to patiently wait in the kitchen for another ten minutes for the floor to stabilize before I felt that I could move, my disorientation was incredibly high and I didn’t feel safe enough to move a single inch in either direction. I held onto the counter for dear life with my eyes shut tight while I let the sensations move in and around me, when everything finally settled down, I took my first tentative steps towards the living room while I used voice activation on my phone, texted the man of the house that I was in trouble and needed him home.

I’ve had Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AiWS) just about all of my life, my earliest memory being when I was six and coming down with the measles. I remember lying on the couch as mom took my temperature and the house seemed to get very big and long and I felt myself getting smaller and smaller. When mom told dad that I was running 103.5* fever, I was able to tell her that everything looked funny and I felt like I was shrinking. Mom said that everything was fine, it was just the fever and after she gave me some aspirin, I fell to sleep and didn’t think about it. It would happen a lot after that – coming in with a high fever when I was a child, taking certain medications (narcotic pain meds) or just before I slip to sleep when I was exhausted to my bones as I got older. It was also very prevalent during my stroke and since the migraines began – AiWS has been around usually preceding an attack but sometimes it would strike as the pain exploded in my head. They say it’s abundant during prepubescent years, stopping during the teens and then picking back up later but I’ve never gotten a break, I had episodes all through my teenage years.

It wouldn’t be until Thursday morning around 1:30 before I started to feel better from that attack, but it would be a full blown fight to get it under control and I was tested to the limit with my patience and endurance. With that kind of fight, you would think I would sleep well when I finally did fall to sleep but it would be the opposite and when I woke up yesterday, I felt as if I had been in a major boxing match and I was the loser. I would be in the middle of a massive migraine hangover when the next attack hit – again feeling myself shrinking as the house got bigger. Thursday’s migraine was mild compared to Wednesday’s but today, I have not been myself and sitting on the edge of again falling into the rabbit hole.

Things are supposed to warm up this weekend with more rain on Sunday and I am already so exhausted that if another attack hits, I won’t have much fight left in me. One thing is for certain, if we continue on with this weather pattern throughout the winter – it’s going to be a very long one for me.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jill M.
    4 years ago

    Stacey, Thank you for posting this article on AiWS. I have read several articles about this and find that, like migraine, experiences vary a lot among individuals. I too experience these sensations sometimes although mine have not been as debilitating as you describe. Usually, I feel as if my neck is stretched and my head is far above the rest of my body, almost floating. I also feel as if my left arm is much longer than my right or sometimes, that it is not actually attached to my body – like it’s a foreign object. I often feel very lightheaded when this happens as well. Very strange symptoms, but I also find them fascinating as well. I am sometimes able to separate myself from what’s going on…almost like my consciousness is living in one reality and my body in another. I realize that sounds very bizarre, but I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

  • Holly H.
    4 years ago

    Stacey A: I know AiWS as well. It is, indeed, quite disorienting (especially as it is in addition to my 24/7 aura). Typically, the main two distortions are that I feel very tall, and visually my feet and the floor seem very far away and small. It feels as if I’m walking on stilts on a tightrope – so in order to walk, I have to concentrate on watching my feet move on the floor. Also my arms look to be very long and spaghetti thin, but my hands appear very large. Even with my intractable/constant migraine, fortunately the AiWS is only an occasional occurrence for me.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    4 years ago

    Stacy A,
    I only get AiWS once in a blue moon, but have never had it become so debilitating. I thought I’d share with you an article that was written in the New York Times about Alice in Wonderland.

    Best Wishes!
    -Katie Moderator

  • 23r1c5h author
    4 years ago

    Thank you, Katy for the link, there were actually a few things in it that I did not know about the syndrome. I’ve only lightly researched it over the years and will be checking with my sisters and brother about it first chance I get.

    My episodes really don’t get that debilitating, usually I am in bed when it happens but its those rare times I am standing or walking when it hits that gives me the most disturbing problems. It’s not easy when you are walking from one room to the other and the floor suddenly drops away from you. I do the best I can to stay safe, that usually means not moving until the episode has passed.

    Thanks again, sweetie.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Stacey,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I completely understand as this winter has been very odd for my neck of the woods too.
    It was 72 degrees last week when I was at my parents, and today it is 27 degrees with snow/sleet expected. This will not bode well for my head.
    If this recent attack was different, or had new and/or unusual symptoms, it may be a good idea to speak with your doctor so he can make sure everything is OK.

    Fingers crossed winter is too horrible for us!

  • 23r1c5h author
    4 years ago

    I do hope for the seasons to settle down for everyone’s sake – it would seem that not only did the meteorologists got it wrong, so did the Farmer’s Almanac and that’s rare.

    Those migraines really weren’t out of the ordinary but I do intend to go a new doctor after the first of the year for a consultation, I wasn’t that impressed with the last doctor and I’m not going back to her again if I can avoid it. I’ve got issues with an anti-anxiety med I’m on but I do intend to touch base with the AiWS issue. Here’s hoping the new doc will be better than the last.

    Best wishes!

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