I came across this hilarious (not that I’m having a laugh at this commenter’s expense, but it’s funny because it’s happened to myself and so many others) comment someone left on my last entry and it prompted me to shed a bit more light on this very important topic.
I am getting minute small bumps and itches during the day at work...but I don't
see any bedbugs at least that I can recognize. I am paranoid that the nymphs are
too small for me to identify so I pick at anything that looks like a speck of
dust or small white fluff or that eggs are in my clothes and that they are
hatching during the day inside my clothes close to my skin...Has anyone else
felt this crawling sensation at work during the day underneath your clothes? It
usually starts later in the afternoon. Sometimes I have picked off small round
things that are dark in the center and yellowish brown around the outside but
again they are too small and I usually just crush them and wash them down the
Man, I’ve experienced this so many times. There were times when all I had to do was think about bed bugs to start feeling itching or crawling sensations. I still feel bed bugs on my body that aren’t there, or at least I can’t seem to find them when I “feel” them. I still check my clothes for bugs or eggs when I pull them out of the closet, before I put them on. I’ve mistaken many different things for bed bugs, specks of dust, crumbs, ashes, shirt buttons, you name it.
I think (or theorize) that the crawling sensations are a combination of your body and subconscious, wracked if not slightly traumatized by the advent of bed bugs in your life. Think of your central nervous system after experiencing bed bugs as a car with its alarm set to super-sensitive. If so much as a sole leaf floats down and touches the roof of that car, the alarm will sound as loudly as if someone had just smashed the windshield. Woo-woo-woo-woo! Eee-er eee-er eee-er eee-er eee-er eee-er! Whoooooo-up whooooo-up whoooooo-up whoooooo-up whoooooo-up whoooooo-up whoooooo-up! Wheee-oh wheee-oh wheee-oh wheee-oh wheee-oh wheee-oh wheee-oh!
So if your skin feels anything during the day from a gentle breeze to your own clothing brushing against it, that biological hypersensitive alarm goes off. Your subconscious and your nerves come into play by reproducing the crawling sensations you felt when the bugs were actually crawling on you. In that sense, bed bugs really mess up your nervous system, because the nerves are supposed to send signals to the brain, not the other way around.
For example, my mother says she no longer sleeps with her mouth open because she’s afraid the bed bugs will crawl into her mouth. Another bedtime ritual for her is making sure her hair is covering her ears as she is horrified that bed bugs will crawl into her ear holes. I guess she’s afraid they’ll crawl inside, go all the way up to her brain and start changing her thought patterns, and by next week she’ll be crawling on me and sucking my blood. Just kidding, ma. Ha ha ha.
But seriously, bed bug paranoia is an interesting phenomenon because while bed bugs cannot be proven to carry physical disease, the paranoia can lead to a mild form of mental illness in extreme or even moderate cases. I mean, if you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, or Woody Allen, bed bugs may literally drive you crazy. Drug addicts are another group whose habit instills paranoid delusions, so imagine what one of them must go through if they have bed bugs in their home and they just shot themselves full of heroin. I remember this guy from high school who used to see spiders crawling on his arms when he would trip on acid. I can only imagine someone living with bed bugs taking LSD or some other hallucinogenic and looking down at his breakfast only to trip out and see a cereal bowl filled with bed bugs and a spoonful of the critters only a few inches from his mouth.
This whole thing reminds me of this funny saying, “If you don’t think I’m paranoid, just ask all the people who are out to get me.”
I think it would be really interesting if a psychologist or a psych student were to study bed bug paranoia and do research on its effects on the human psyche.