You remember how it started? You were bored, browsing Reddit. You found this obscure sub. Tulpas. People there were using questionable techniques and pseudo-science to trick themselves into believing in imaginary friends. You thought back then: this is exactly like a church indoctrination. You browsed their guides, telling you to ignore the rational thoughts. To notice the ‘head-pressures’, to accredit parts of your thoughts to someone else. You got curious.
Eventually, you come up with this ‘tulpa’ that you think of as a person much like yourself. All tulpa guides suggest imagining tulpas as attractive. Yours is alluring, you keep thinking of her curves. Your life is suddenly focused on this girl.
You see people pretending to be their tulpas in online chats; they call it ‘proxying’. You no longer wonder if they are engulfed in their fantasies. It is real for you too.
You try hypnosis as a way to ‘hear your tulpa’ better. To feel what your tulpa feels. One day you catch yourself fapping to furry porn that she likes.
The more you talk to your tulpa, the more you want to see her around. You keep her diary and wear a friendship bracelet with her name; you even tell your closest friend about her. He thinks you’re weird. Whatever. You post online to convince people that what you’re doing is normal, that this ‘plurality’ of mind is healthy, that your life is grand.
But you feel worse with every day.
The depression follows you. Your sanity fights with your imagination; sometimes you’re not sure who you are. Instead of being busy with your school, you spend most of the time with your phone, chatting online with people that understand both of you.
You try advanced tulpamancy. It gives no results – at first, but one day you see something in the corner of your eye – finally! A distorted shadow, could it finally be her? You turn your head to follow the shape, staring into the empty space, oblivious to the worried looks of your parents.
The shadow creeps away from your sight. What if it’s not her? Suddenly you think of demons.
First time in your adult life you pray before sleep. She says not to worry.
The shadows never leave you now; wherever you go, an occasional turn of your head brings uncanny motions that shouldn’t be there, every time your heart skips a beat.
You cannot focus on anything. You go online and plead, ‘HELP! Tulpa became malicious!’
The Reddit is supportive. They tell you to talk it out with her, but you cannot hear her voice. For once, your head feels empty. Happy with that, you get up to grab a cup of water… and you smash into the door. You saw it open, while, in reality, you closed it. Your nose bursts with pain, but it barely registers in the panic that engulfs you. You stare at your palms, shaking and covered in the blood.
Drops of blood fall on your sheets, and you wipe your nose again, wash your face. The voice comes back, ‘It’s not me. I’d never do this to you. I love you.’
You don’t trust that voice.
Days pass, as you try to forget about this tulpa bullshit, but you can’t get free, thinking of her favourite colours, her favourite food. You go vegan, and your parents share another worried look at the dinner table.
Your father finds the folder with furries. You have a long talk. He says he accepts your choices, but his voice is tired. You try to explain it to him. That it’s not you who’s into that. You tell him about your tulpa.
He leaves the room, and you hear him talking over the phone. Words are muted, but the fear envelops you in a sticky cloud. You start seeing shapes again.
They drive you to the doctor. Your tulpa is sitting next to you. ‘Don’t tell him about me. I’m scared.’ She smiles. ‘I’m pregnant, you know.’
You’re unsure how to react. You don’t know the guy whom she calls her lover. They chat online. Are you going to have another tulpa now?
The doctor examines you. You get a long list. Antidepressants, alprazolam, oxazepam, valium.
Now your mind is senile. Your tulpa turns into a whisper.
You’re reassigned to a class for kids with special needs. Doesn’t matter. You only need your pills. You don’t want the shadows to return.
But you won’t get rid of me.