Can something be scary and cool at the same time?

I’ve been asking myself that for the past two nights.

On Friday night I was sleeping peacefully with my daughter beside me- she had a fever- and I felt as though something was crawling on my arm. I reached to grab it and closed my hand around nothing. Hmmmm

Side bar: A few months back I had the same sensation. I reached and came away with a centipede which was subsequently killed in a rush to turn on the lights and grab a shoe. So Friday night I was thinking it was probably another centipede.

Anyway, when I grabbed nothing I decided to get up and turn on the light to ensure it was indeed noting since I did not want her to be bitten.

I pulled off the covers and looked around the bed and as I was doing this I realized that I still felt like something was crawling. This time though I was aware of the sensation on both arms, my face, back and legs. It really felt like loads of little things were crawling over me.

I sat there processing it and then I said to myself ” OMGoodness you are hallucinating!” The psychologist in me immediately kicked in and I said “Lyn, you are hallucinating, right now your right brain is engaged you need to engage the left. What are the facts? The fact is there is nothing on or in your skin, this is from the medication. You studied this remember? There is nothing in or on your skin. When the morphine/ codeine  levels drop in your body this is one of the possible reactions. There is nothing in or on your skin!”

Well after my little pep / self talk, I turned the lights off and lay down. I gave in to the experience because I understood what it was. I eventually went off to sleep. By morning it was gone.

I’ve been thinking though……………what if I didn’t know? What if I had never studied this or even heard or it? I would have freaked out! All that I knew it was still pretty scary. It was still disconcerting.

Formication or tactile hallucinations come about because of reactions to drugs in our systems. There are many prescription pain and psychotropic (can  affect mind, mood and behaviour) meds that may have hallucinations as side effects.

Many users of illegal substances may have the same effects because the drugs are basically categorized in the same way/ the same in origin and can lead to dependence, overuse or abuse. Hence photos of persons with holes or scars from trying to dig out the bugs.

This is scary and something that needs to be controlled and explained. Many of us need these drugs for pain management. We sometimes need to use them for extended periods of time.

I said cool because as I lay down again I was like “wow”. For me it brings empathetic understanding to a whole new level. I don’t regret the experience – again only because I could process it quickly- but………….I don’t want to repeat it. I’ve had visual and auditory hallucinations before and I don’t want to repeat them either.

I would rather not take any drugs. However, if I have to use them I would prefer no to minimal side effects.

If only it were that simple.



*For further information on the different types and causes of tactile hallucinations as well as information on some of the drugs that may cause them see the link below:

Drug Use and Hallucination of Bugs. (2013, May 13). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from



Author: mypcslife

I am a Psychologist by profession, wife and mother. Living in the Caribbean island of Barbados.

2 thoughts on “Formication”

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