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How to Write a [Near]-Fainting Experience
Brought to you by Super Editor


You've probably all read books or seen movies in which a character passes out. The heroine might swoon gracefully and collapse onto the floor or into the hero's arms. People rush to bring water, a doctor, or something to revive her. She then wakes up, rosy-cheeked and a bit distressed, and she fans herself for a while while insisting that she is fine.

Fainting in real life is not nearly so beautiful. Authors, especially ones with no experience, can sometimes fall for such idealized descriptions. I am (un)fortunate enough to have experience in this area, so I will share it here.

Quick Losses of Consciousness
Usually this involves an impact or a sudden pain. The character may have no idea what happened to him or her afterwards, and later results vary depending on the severity of any injuries sustained.

Real-life example: My mom used to work as a waitress during her teenage years, and Aunt Jennifer, her sister, would work with her. One day Mom was washing dishes and Aunt Jennifer came up behind her with a tray. The tray hit Mom's funny bone (a nerve in the elbow). Mom gasped, shocked by the pain. The next thing she knew, she was on the floor, looking at the worried faces of the staff peering down at her.

Quick losses of consciousness tend to be very abrupt and therefore sometimes confusing for the person who has fainted. This makes them fairly easy to write.

Sometimes the character may not lose consciousness immediately. For example, he/she may suddenly feel dizzy, see dark shadows around the edges of his/her vision, and then lose consciousness.

These instances can be very strange. For example, the deviant Ginnyree fainted after feeling a sharp pain on the back of her spine for no specific reason. She lost all awareness of what she was doing. People near her said that she arched her back and reached for the spot. She passed out with her eyes open and stopped moving for about a minute. She saw visions of Disney movies during that time, and then woke up, feeling a bit nauseous, and felt all right soon afterwards. This turned out to be a seizure.

-->When I was about ten years old, I fell off a playground and hit my head. Right when I hit the ground, I was entertained by a split-second vision of Tigger jumping joyfully right by a Christmas tree. I could even hear him whoop. (It was quite random... I was too old for Winnie the Pooh.) Then I woke up, and like the proud little girl I was, refused to cry. I had an awful headache.

Note: If your character hits the floor or a hard object when he or she falls, it will hurt when he/she wakes up. Don't forget to mention it. It adds realism and credibility to the scene. If he/she sustained a head injury (from getting hit in the head, from falling hard against the floor), then he/she should seek medical attention to see whether there was a concussion or not.

Slower Losses of Consciousness
This tends to be the whole heroine-drops-unrealistically-into-hero's-arms part. In reality, it is neither graceful, feminine, nor quick, and losing consciousness might take 1-15 minutes.

>Reason
Reasons can vary a lot. They need to be realistic! For example, I nearly fainted twice--once when I was in a stuffy hospital room, and once when I had a cut on my neck that wouldn't stop bleeding. (I have a dreadful fear of blood.) Heat, bad injuries, over-exhaustion, dehydration (usually in combination with one of these), shocking experiences, bad headaches, illness, low blood pressure/blood sugar* and phobias are generally things that can make characters swoon.

*Low blood pressure is usually genetic. I'm going to talk about it more later.

>Preceding Unconsciousness
This part should be believable. Personal experience is especially helpful in writing a fainting scene. Taste should be used; it isn't wise to list off symptoms for a whole page. Here are some of the things that characters might observe, in order:
~Feelings of being very hot; if the character is wearing a jacket, he or she will remove it
---->OR: feeling very cold cold
~Feelings of distress, which strengthen as symptoms worsen (a character will not neglect to notice that he/she is losing consciousness)
~The character will either become very pale or have a flushed face.
~Deafness or ringing in ears (This seems to be pretty rare.)
~Nausea, to the point where the character might be worried about vomiting. Nausea may or may not occur, and vomiting is possible but rare.
~Weak limbs; the character will probably stumble to a chair if possible
~A weak voice, which makes it more difficult for the character to call attention to his or her plight if nobody is close by
~The character will feel extremely hot, internally and to the touch. (I managed to call my mom over the second time I nearly fainted, after calling her name weakly about five times. She touched me with an icy cold hand. She was surprised by how hot I was and asked me if I was sick.)
~Exhaustion: If the character is sitting on something (such as a chair), the character will slump over it and [try to] rest his/her head on it. If the character is on the floor, he or she will lay down, regardless of the dirt. The character will feel like he or she doesn't have the strength and energy to keep his or her head up; he/she doesn't want to. The character would probably appear extremely fatigued.
~Colors will come in patches over the character's vision. These are the same colors that you see when you close your eyes. (Try it right now. Do you see the colors?) The lightness or darkness of the colors may vary depending on the lighting of the room, although usually they are dark. If you've ever stepped out of a hot shower or stood up too quickly and seen those colors swarm in front of your eyes, then you'll have a good idea of what fainting is like... except the colors don't go away after a few seconds. It is possible to walk with these colors in your way (you can still feel your surroundings), but it's not recommended.
~Crying or wanting to cry (Fainting isn't fun, people!)
~Blurry or darkening vision
----->OR: vision "whiting out" or blindness, sometimes for several minutes
~As the character comes very close to fainting, darkness will probably close in on the sides of his or her vision, sometimes in those grainy dots like those colors.

At this point the character will either faint or recover. (Recovery may happen sooner as well.)

Actual Fainting
The character rarely remembers actually fainting, although if a scary experience was involved, he or she will remember all the details preceding it. For example, the deviant Steeljren lost consciousness when she dislocated her knee while on a ladder. Terrified, she began to fall off, trying to cling to the rungs of the ladder. The last thing she remembered was the sight of the parking lot far below her, which was "engraved" into her mind. She woke up on the living room floor with her parents and sister.

When a character loses consciousness in a traumatic incident, the character is likely to forget most of it. The brain will sometimes avoid "recording" particularly traumatic events, especially accidents, which would leave the character clueless about what happened. (For example, I know someone who collided with a truck when driving a motorcycle several years ago. He has no memory of it.)

Recovery

>In the presence of a medical professional or a person who knows what to do:
The character will be told to sit or lie down. If sitting, the character should bend over so that he/she is staring at his/her knees. Long hair will be smoothed out of the way, and a wet cloth should be draped over the back of the character's neck or on the forehead. The character may be given ice water to drink. Drinking juice or eating a cookie is also a good idea--it raises the blood sugar. Any sweaters, coats, or jackets should've been removed.

The character should be asked basic questions (such as his/her name) to make sure that he/she isn't too disoriented and, if in a hospital setting, the character's blood pressure should be taken.

>Lacking the presence of someone who knows what to do:
The character will probably just be told to sit or lay down until he/she feels better. The second time I almost fainted, my mom had me sit in the screened-in porch. (She later said that she thought the surrounding trees (nature) would help me calm down. Yeah, blood really scares me.) Standing up to move is not a good idea. The colors will multiply in front of the character's eyes, making it hard to see where he/she is going. The character will be able to continue, though, and perhaps might manage a small smile to assure others that he/she is all right.

During Recovery

Moderately intense experiences: (about 20-30 mins., couches are very nice to have during this time)

~Right away: The character will lay down or sit if there is not a bed, couch or cot available. It's a good idea to take deep breaths.
~Right away: If the character lost consciousness, he or she will probably be disoriented for the first few minutes.
~First 5-10 mins.: Any stomach pains or nausea will remain. Stomach pains may intensify... very, very painfully. Small children may end up crying, while older children, teenagers, and some adults might be whimpering on the couch.
~First 10-15 mins.: The character will still feel extremely hot. If he or she is alone, he/she will not hesitate to pull up shirts or skirts to try to cool down.
~First 10-15 mins.: If there is water available, the character will use it to relieve the heat. Drinking it, pouring it on his/her self, or dipping his/her fingers in in it and applying it to the forehead, cheeks, back of neck, and perhaps even legs or stomach are all ways to cool down.
~After about 15 mins.: If the character nearly fainted due to an experience involving intense fear, the character might calm down (as in, completely) around now.
~First 20 mins.: The character's limbs will still feel weak. I left the little screened-in porch after 20 minutes to finish making my lunch, and I still felt a bit shaky. (I wasn't noticeably shaky, though--don't have a different character point it out.)
~Within 30 mins.: The character is completely back to normal.

Recovery times VARY A LOT! I don't recall such a long recovery the first time I nearly lost consciousness, but that may have been because I was just overheated. (Note to self: Remove all winter coats before entering stuffy hospital rooms.) Recovery times can vary immensely, depending on the situation and character involved.

Real-life example: MiseryCordia once had a near-fainting experience in a hospital. Her dad had been involved in a collision. When she saw him, she was flooded with a mix of relief that he would be all right and horror at the sight of the blood. At first she felt like vomiting, and then she felt cold and began experiencing blurry vision and saw spots of color. The nurse had her sit and drink ice water. She sat there for five to ten minutes, breathing deeply, and returned to normal. She reports that her dad is doing better now, by the way. The full story is in the comments.

Heatstroke
Heatstroke is usually more common in warmer places. Sometimes milder instances can even happen indoors! (I've laid down on the floor before because the house is too hot. I live in a really hot state, and my parents don't like to use air conditioning much because it's expensive.)

Charanty, a fellow deviant, has experienced heatstroke before. Here's her account of it:
"It was summer, so my parents and I went to the park. I was rollerskating for a while around an hour and then I felt really weird - my heart jumped like a crazy kangaroo, and I felt like if I was hit in the head and my temperature feelings got mixed together - I felt that my body is overheating but it wasn't hot as well as not really cold.... More like a fever, you know. My vision got blurry and perspective got a little funny (hard to explain if you haven't experienced anything alike); I started to see colour spots and they were flying. I guess somewhere here my step-father grabbed me and run to the car, because i couldn't stand on my feet anymore. Very odd feeling - from one hand you understand that something is wrong, but at the same time everything looks so distant.
I didn't felt nausea or anything like that probably because my parents spotted that something was wrong early. In the car, I was given water, at first warm and colder a little later. Mom helped me to put off my roller skates and I felt better."
Feelings of fatigue usually accompany heatstroke as well. Sometimes this makes things difficult during minor instances of heatstroke, because a character should move to a cooler place, but the character lacks the energy to get up and doesn't really feel like it. Usually laying on the floor for ten minutes is enough. (My parents don't seem to like this when I do, though. Honestly, when you're that hot and tired, you don't care about the dirt.)


Low Blood Pressure
People with very low blood pressure can suffer from near-fainting or fainting experiences when standing up. There's a continuum of intensity:

~Fairly low blood pressure: When I stand up after sitting for a while, sometimes I see colors in front of my eyes, the same ones that you see when you close your eyes. A rush of heat occasionally accompanies them. They might come about 30 seconds after standing up, and last for another 30 seconds, sometimes less. It's minor enough that I can just continue walking (although when it's pretty bad, the colors block most or all of my vision). I've even gone halfway up the stairs, completely blinded by dancing colors, which faded away by the time I was halfway up. They're such an ordinary experience that I used to think that everyone saw them.
---->Usually this is genetic. My mom experiences the same thing too.
~Very low blood pressure: Feelings of dizziness can accompany standing up, and sometimes the character could actually faint. Usually he/she would recover within about ten seconds, and then just sit down for a bit to feel better. Recovery can take longer if the character hits his/her head while falling.

I've given you far more information that you need. Hopefully you have a basic understanding of what it feels like to [nearly] faint and recover. Perhaps you have a specific character and scene in mind, or perhaps you're just like a bored writer looking for resources. It doesn't matter. You have your description guide, so... go knock yourself out!
:ohnoes: :faint:
I'd like to dedicate this to my awesome watchers, who haven't complained about any pointless or repetitive posts. They are all amazing people.

If you yourself have had a fainting or near-fainting experience and can add to this resource, please comment here or note me! I may use your anecdote to add to this resource and/or link to your comment. I will not disclose any personal information that you do not want me to disclose. All help is greatly appreciated, both by me and the writers who get to read an improved resource!

Edition 1.0 Posted June 30, 2011
Edition 1.1 Updated with ~sixlessthansixty's experiences July 20, 2011 (Thanks, Misery!)
Edition 1.2 Finally updated with a TON of help; parts on heatstroke, low blood pressure, and help from a medical professional August 20, 2011
Edition 1.3 I keep forgetting to write stuff here when I edit. Edited some more, Oct 17, 2011
Edition 1.4 Added some direct links April 4, 2012

I'd like to thank the following awesome people for helping improve this resource!
Mom :iconsixlessthansixty::iconphiloscaelum::iconcharanty::iconpredawn::iconsteeljren::iconofficer-1bdi::iconrenainnocenti::iconginnyree: and many more
Please read through the comments for additional stories!

:iconwriters-and-editors:

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:iconthe13throse:
the13throse Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for writing this!
I plan to write a fight scene, in which both characters pass out from blood loss, and this will help IMMENSELY!!!
By the way...one is blind, so...the vision stuff won't be relevant to her (though I will try to describe her other senses fading...perhaps describe her experiencing numbness...), but the other can see perfectly fine, so it will apply to HER. Both characters will awake in a hospital-like setting, though it's really more of a laboratory.

Any other tips for this scenario?
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:iconshaula-alnair:
Shaula-Alnair Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015
I can support the effectiveness of propping one's feet up... I've fainted or close to it a handful of times in my life, to the point I recognize the blobby colorful darkness with annoyance. The last few times I've experimented with propping my feet up, and in both cases it seemed to keep me from going all the way out, once even banishing the feeling within 30 seconds.

However I've always been pretty quick about bouncing back. The only time I wasn't able to get right up after waking up was the first time I went all the way out, and it had nothing to do with the way I was feeling and everything to do with being cautious because the situation meant I could have actually been seriously hurt. I'm usually either ravenously hungry or thirsty when I wake up though.

One more thing to add to the list of what others do with a fainted person: if they know what they're doing and the person hasn't fallen somewhere dangerous like when I passed out at the hooves of some horses and my firefighter friend/riding partner dragged me out, filling my pants with hay, they won't move a person/ask the person to move if they think the person passed out because of a head injury, or if they think the person hit their head hard on the way down, without the right tools or at least a very careful checking over.

Not sure if this helped, but here it is!
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:icondigblic:
digblic Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2015
As someone who has collapsed from low blood sugar before (I only fell, I didn't actually lose consciousness completely), I can tell you it's actually really terrifying. The part mentioned above about feeling like you want to cry is true, although in my case it was accompanied by feeling like I was about to have a panic attack as well. This had never happened to me before and I had no idea what exactly was wrong with me.

I first realized something was wrong when I started feeling nauseous, and felt pressure/fogginess in my head, so I went to sit down. For a few minutes I just sat there, miserable, while it felt like the blood in my body was moving back and forth from my extremities to my core, and back again. I was having hot flashes and my skin felt like it was buzzing (it's like having a really bad fever, when everything is too much stimulation).

Finally, the nausea got bad enough that I figured I ought to try to make it to a bathroom, so I got up, and made it about 20 feet or so, when my ears started ringing, my vision blacked out completely, and my legs couldn't support my own weight anymore and I just sort of slumped to the ground (and it wasn't like a graceful fall like what's portrayed on tv; when you fall, you fall heavy and you have no control over it). However, I didn't get hurt, and was mostly okay after that, if rather shaky and pale.

So yeah, idk if this would be useful to anyone, but if so, here ya go.
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:iconkhayria:
Khayria Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2014
Just wanted to add something real quick:
I once had a near-fainting experience from the shock I got from a crash with my motorcycle/scooter and instead of my vision turning black it turned completely white so I guess that's also possible.
And instead of the "closed-eye" color dots my vision turns blue with blueish/white grains (this happens quite often, as I have low blood pressure, too).
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:iconthewaterbelow:
thewaterbelow Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Student General Artist
Hope it's okay for me to share an experience -

One day I was out riding my horse and this was in the summer, so the day was mildly hot. I began feeling lightheaded and nauseous, and sat down in the shade, though I still felt warm and sweaty. I told my cousin and my step-mother, whom responded telling me I should go into the house to cool down for a bit. They said they would take the tack off my horse for me, though I don't know why this seems important to me. I agreed and made my way towards the house, but I had to go through our barn, and there was a large gap between the shade of our trees and our barn. So, I began walking and my cousin and stepmother soon followed me. I was panting and they tried to give me leverage on both sides, but I ended up laying down on the ground.

I don't think it was that bad though, because I was somewhat reluctant to lay on the ground, though I ended up doing it anyways. My dad walked up and he pulled me into the shade where I got some cool water. I was feeling much better soon after. I was seeing many spots, though at the time I assumed it was because I had been looking towards the sun when I laid down. The only time I came close to "fainting" was when I was laying on the ground, but I still felt much like I was going to faint.
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:iconrandomfriends101:
randomfriends101 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is very helpful :)
and apparently I have fairly low blood pressure too...
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:iconsi1verwing:
Si1verwing Featured By Owner May 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
P.S. Thank you for this, I now realise that the collapsing scene I had planned out for one of my fanfics is a little less than accurate. :)
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:iconsi1verwing:
Si1verwing Featured By Owner May 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I guess I have a minor case of syncope, because pretty much whenever I stand up I'm blinded by spots and sway a bit for a few seconds. I always recover, though. Although, one time I was in English and I was sitting with my legs crossed (like I always do for some reason), and they were kind of going to sleep, but I didn't think much of it. The next thing I knew I was on the floor next to my seat, and the kids were staring at me. I asked "What just happened?" because I was totally surprised. I still don't quite understand why that made me pass out, I guess my legs were restricting the blood flow? I dunno.

Fainting can also be triggered by a heavy meal. My mother has syncope, and (quite recently, in fact) we were at dinner, and during dessert she started feeling a bit woozy. She set her head on the table, but it didn't work. She didn't fall out of her seat, thankfully, because her head was on the table. She regained consciousness after a few seconds after being sat back up by my father, and unfortunately threw up a little (not noticeably, luckily) and after that she was fine (more or less, she was still a bit iffy).

WHY THE FUCK CAN'T I TYPE RIGHT NOW GOD DANGIT
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:iconmoonbladethebook:
moonbladethebook Featured By Owner May 3, 2014  Student General Artist
-->When I was about ten years old, I fell off a playground and hit my head. Right when I hit the ground, I was entertained by a split-second vision of Tigger jumping joyfully right by a Christmas tree. I could even hear him whoop. (It was quite random... I was too old for Winnie the Pooh.)

LIES! You are never to old for Winnie the Pooh!
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:iconyifeithemagicalchibi:
YifeiTheMagicalChibi Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2014  Student Writer
Love the way you think. :3 At 17, I wear Anna and Elsa tshirts to school and get toys for Christmas. Not baby toys, but things like dolls and anything that's from the movie Brave or Frozen.
I'm ashamed to say, but I was around 10 and was with my parents shopping at Xiao Bei, (think the 24 hour Taiwanese Walmart) and this little girl was with her mom and was carrying around a basket that had two of the Harry Potter books in them. They were the only ones I didn't have. I waited until she turned around, grabbed the books and ran as fast as I could. XD 
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner May 7, 2014   General Artist
I'd like to dispute your assertion. You become too old for Winnie the Pooh when you feel too old for it.

But for some people, that comes sooner than for others, and some people love it all their lives. :)
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:iconmoonbladethebook:
moonbladethebook Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Student General Artist
Don't worry I was just joking XD
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner May 12, 2014   General Artist
Yeah. :D
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:iconindigooftheheavens:
IndigoOfTheHeavens Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Student General Artist
I used to wonder what the frack was going on those times I had trouble after getting up from sitting up a while or lying down a while. Sometimes I would be up and walking around just fine then sit down briefly for 5 - 10 minutes then get up again and then it would hit.

Mostly it happened after such a change and the first thing I'd notice is dizziness, then the heaviness of the air and the weakening of my joints and legs, and an increasing tiredness. Then would come the feeling of being hotter, and black dots would start to crowd into my vision and it would be difficult to think. Then the fun //sarcasm// part of my knees seeming to almost "bounce" on me if I'm trying to stay upright and standing, I think it was like the weight pressed down on me and my knees tried to recoil and straighten more and repeat to an almost internally "jolting" motion that was felt clearly in the legs that went through me. That's what I always remembered the best aside from the extreme light-headedness (and my perception of my lightheadedness would be like "Wheeee...head full of...fluffy foggy cloooouds [how it felt]... woaaaah wtf is...going oooon....????") and sometimes the "jolting" of the legs got so bad, and the weight of the air pressing down too much ontop of me, (and my vision would be blurring out extremely by now) that I'd fall to my knees and brace my hands on the floor and with head down and see my vision completely black out for a time. Its very disorienting and I had to take a couple minutes to fully recover after my vision came back to the point that I didn't feel too weak and could stand again, and then by 5 minutes after I'd be fully recovered.

One of those occurrences happened in front of my mom and that was the worst one. From what I can recall (foggy memory O.e) it was more or less like the other ones described above, but rapid onset with the foggy and not really functioning mind coming first, some disorientation, confusion, dizziness following, then vision rapidly blackening out and feeling weak under a heavy-weight air, and then waking up what seems like just the next second on the frickin' floor with absolutely NO memory of falling. And I was awkwardly sitting/lying against the dresser and had pain in the back of my head from hitting it there. My mom helped me up but had brushed it off as "you stood up too fast after lying down for so long" though from reading this I should've gotten some more attention to that I suppose.... In any case I recovered within 5 minutes, and the disorientation went away pretty quickly too.

Those "almost fainting" occurrences happened during a period of two years back when I was around 14 to 15 I think, or was it 15 to 16? IDK, around that time, and I had also random rapid heartrates at night that would speed up with no warning, or heartrates that dropped too quickly and was difficult to breathe for a while (usually at night when I'm most relaxed and trying to go to sleep...) during that time too. It all went away thankfully by 17 at the latest.

But it got to so that I can feel the dizziness, vision starting to blur, and the weight increasing on me, and immediately go to my knees and hands and breath carefully until it all passes, instead of falling against my will to that position as has happened before I was able to recognize its sudden onset. My vision usually blacks out during those minor occurrences but I'm still conscious of it all as far as I'm aware. The time in front of my Mom was the most extreme and that was the rare time I can EVER point to in my whole frickin' life that I ever fainted.

I don't remember any nausea related to that though, or really extreme heat either. I HAVE had energy crashes or close to that in the past year which absolutely SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS and in no way do I come close to fainting like I did in those other times though... Energy crashes are NOT quick and easy to recover from and utterly SUCK! The almost-faintings though are rather quick for me to recover from and it doesn't impact any part of the rest of the day afterwards.

Hope this helps. :)
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:iconindigooftheheavens:
IndigoOfTheHeavens Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Student General Artist
OH and I always get the ringing in the ears too. Its my other way to know when I'm about to loose consciousness too or am close to it, but tinnitus is not uncommon for me, so its ONLY with the other symptoms that I understand it from being an "time to sit down!" episode there.
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:iconweirdmindofesh:
weirdmindofesh Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for this resource, I've never been knocked unconscious, but, I do have scene planned where this information is useful.
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:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I could consider myself lucky that I've passed out twice in my life, as sadistic as that probably sounds to any non-writers out there who are reading this. It makes me understand that aspect of writing a little better. First time, I had a wood tick on my scalp, my mom pulled it out for me, and the second I saw the ugly, blood-covered thing, I passed out; I think I was around seven or eight years old at the time. Banged my head on the sharp corner of the sink and fell backwards into the bathtub before Mom could catch me. Definitely not glamorous! There was blood everywhere; ugh. The second time, I somehow managed to stab myself in the heel with a sharpened pencil; I fainted from the pain; I was around twelve or thirteen in age. Mom told me that I had a mini-seizure and lost control of my bladder, not that I really remember it; my mind seems to have erased that event. So whenever one of my characters passes out, I make it as realistic as possible.

For instance, one of my main characters, Nilrem, is the villain. And he strangles my other main character within an inch of her life. Naturally, she's choked into unconsciousness, and is quite UN-glamorous for the duration of her being unconscious, especially what with the hand-shaped bruises encircling her throat. :P Sorry if this is TOO detailed; I tend to ramble. :XD:
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:icondragonladyofthelake:
dragonladyofthelake Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Great piece! I am a notorious fainter myself (It freaks people out, let me tell you that!) and I found this to be very well done - you really got the sensations down!
For me, I faint for several reasons. The sight of blood, mine or someone I care about. I fainted once watching my brother get a blood test. That was the only time they used smelling salts on me. I also faint from injury inflicted upon me through needles - including when I got my ears pierced. However, I have also fainted from the heat (I kid you not) usually in conjunction to working really hard and/or having skipped a meal. The thing about fainting is that you need to lie down right away, on the cooler surface the better (I personally like cement best), sitting does not help. At all. When you feel it coming on, if you sit in time, you don't always lose consciousness. The longer you ignore the fact you're fainting, the longer you black out for and the longer it takes to recover. I also think it's really amusing to watch people's reactions around you who faint. Despite the story books, men are usually clueless as to what to do. I had one friend just stand about 5 feet away from me and look around awkwardly until his mother rushed up and fussed. At another time, my boyfriend (at the time) sort of watched me fall and then stood around awkwardly and told people not to panic that I was fine. Women -particularly those with children- tend to immediately rush up, get you something cool for your head, check your pulse and make you drink water and sit for long periods after, while watching you like a hawk. They will ignore you when you say you are fine - because depending on how long you were out you can either be fine in 10 minutes - 40 minutes afterward, though you will feel pretty weak for the rest of the day. Strangers will some times offer you food if you've fallen somewhere public. Take it. It helps. Oh and you faint at the most inconvenient of times and places - consider that when writing, because if you try and move a fainting person, they're just going to faint deeper.  I've never fainted from fright, but I have fainted from shock - I slammed my finger in a door once. They had to carry me from the room I fainted so deeply. I never recalled falling - and I was standing on a chair!
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:iconlionsroar787:
LionsRoar787 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Having actually fainted myself (Like you, I used to be extremely squeamish to blood, and me and my fam were all at my dad's workplace where they were having blood testing something-or-other.  All those vials were just out in the open and- ughhh.)  I actually remember the moment pretty well. I was probably only unconscious for a few seconds.  I believe I was around nine or ten at the time, not really sure.  Anyway, I was walking down a hallway when I started feeling nauseous, dizzy, and had a slight ringing in my ears (I was surprised when you said that was rare, I thought that it was normal for fainting- having it happen to me).  Then my vision went all spotty and started darkening at the corners.  I don't think I actually felt really hot or cold, but I know I was only still standing at that point because I was leaning on the wall.  I felt really, really nauseous and I tried to say something about it, but then my vision kind of tunneled and completely blacked out so I couldn't see, though I was still aware of almost everything.  That was when I toppled over onto the floor, though I didn't really feel the impact.  Everything was feeling a tillte surreal.  Somebody was saying something, and I believe it was then that I actually went unconscious.  When I woke up (Vision still wacky for a few moments, spotty and fading from black at the edges, but it was gone soon) I was being set in a chair and everybody was looking at me all worried.  I still felt extremely sick and shaky, though thankfully I never threw up.  and, me being me, I insisted I was okay and got up and walked out to the car within a few minutes of the event, though I still felt sick and shaky for about half an hour.  However, strangely enough, I got really hungry after that.

One thing that helps still unconsious fainted people is laying them on the floor and using something to lift up their legs or just lay them on an incline, head on the lower half.  I've heard that this helps get the blood flowing back to their head.  Not 100 percent sure on this fact. You might want to look it up.
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:icontwototango:
TwoToTango Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
My fainting experience was linked to mild physical trauma. I was riding the horse I would eventual buy for the very first time. I was bareback in a class, and we went over a low jump (not even a foot high). As I was 14 and new to the class, I had pretty much no idea what I was doing, and slid off the side of my horse mid-jump. Unfortunately, I didn't hit the dirt like any other fall - I landed on the jump stand, a foot high piece of metal with a broad cradle on the top to hold that side of the beam we were jumping over. The impression of the pain was incredible, but I actually remember very little of it - I do know I impacted approximately where my left kidney is. The amazing first aid rushed over, and we ascertained that I hadn't broken myself. Beyond the pain was the embarrassment, as I'd fallen off in front of about 30 of my peers and friends. I brushed the ordeal off, but when they asked if I wanted to get back on, I said I'd walk around for a couple of minutes, give myself a chance to recover, get my breath back, and muscle through the pain. This proved incredibly wise. As I walked around the center of the arena leading my soon-to-be first horse, I was overcome with a wave of dizziness and fatigue. All I could think to myself was that I really needed to sit down. But, since I'd already made quite a spectacle of myself, I grit my teeth and told myself that there was no way I could just plop down in the middle of the arena. The last thing I remember was looking up and wondering to myself "Why is the ceiling sparkling?" The next thing I knew, the first aid was again kneeling over me, this time asking me what seemed like silly questions - name, team, horse name, etc. I answered easily, but asked what had happened. They told me I'd fainted - I scoffed, and asked them what really happened. When they repeated that I had, indeed, fainted, I re-evaluated. I still hurt like crazy, but I was me, just a little fuzzy, and otherwise fine. One look at my mother's gray face at the rail, however, made me wince. We ended up going to Urgent Care, where I received the only x-rays I've ever gotten to make sure I didn't fracture any ribs or vertebrae. Once we were certain that I hadn't bruised a kidney, they explained that fainting after trauma sometimes acts as a reset button for your brain, especially when you resist giving yourself a chance to recover, as I foolishly did. I ended up riding in a parade the next day and bringing that horse home the day after, with no ill effects beyond the soreness of the fall. I've had other pretty severe crashes, but the other that came close to that experience was after my second horse had reared me off. After the instinctive roll to get away for hooves, I tried to get up. Again, that wave of everything that seems to want to drive you back to the ground, like your organs, led by your stomach and ending with your brain, are making a frantic getaway through your mouth. That time, I was wise enough to get my butt in the dirt and my head between my knees. Once it passed, I was able to get up, catch my horse, and get back on. Oh, the wisdom of experience.
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:iconthefallenangel795:
TheFallenAngel795 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Student Writer
Nice resource~ I'm gonna use this :aww:

I also had two fainting experiences

1) I was really worried about something (I'm not saying what it is) and when I went outside I felt really sick, saw "black clouds" floating in my vision and I fainted in our garage. It was weird because while I was out it felt like the world's best nap, like being curled up inside blankets on a cold day. When I woke up I was actually pretty mad because I thought my mother was waking me up from a nap :XD: But I felt fine actually, just a little confused why my mouth tasted gritty and my head hurt.

2) I was alergic to bees so the second time was a lot more violent. Before I went out the had the whole body numbness, stopped breathing and for some reason I could only hear the fish tank even though the TV and stereo was on. I also had chills. I don't even remember being out but when I woke up I felt like crap.

Both times when I was out I apparently looked like I was having a seizure.

Thats my story, I dunna if this will help or anything ovo'''
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:icongrumpy-old-snake:
Grumpy-Old-Snake Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013  Student

Haha, since I recently got into a big discussion about this elsewhere I might as well throw in my own perception of maybe near-fainting. (I've never actually lost consciousness.)

 

I don't have one singular event to describe, as I'm relatively certain mine's linked to low blood pressure; it's triggered by standing up, sometimes even just sitting up from a laying down or slumped posture. (Though whereas it used to happen quite rarely, recently there have been 'episodes' where I'll spend a day or week having it happen pretty much every third time I get up.)

 

Anyways, I'll stand up and a few seconds later I'll get lightheaded, and grey blocks/shadows will fill in my vision from the edges in, sometimes until I'm completely blind for a moment. Usually my legs will get a bit weak, and I'll feel like I'm losing my balance even though I rarely am. If it's a bad one my arms and face will go numb, and then--usually around when I start being able to see again--start tingling and feeling vaguely like they're under pressure (as if I'd been laying on them for a while). There's also a slightly acidic, burning feel to my arms sometimes, a lot like the burning from anaerobic respiration, with a definite sense of cold. The experience as a whole is more disconcerting than unpleasant, unless the numbness occurs--the sensation it leaves in my arms and face really bugs me, and I find myself rubbing at my face and arms like it will help restore circulation or something. (It rarely seems to help the sensation, but it makes me feel productive, which is something. :XD:)

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:iconranekochan:
Ranekochan Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Huh. Never knew I've almost fainted so often. O.o
When I had mono, I actually did faint. I felt bone tired, and I got up because I was going to... Honestly, I don't know why. I just got up and walked into the hallway and laid down, because I felt extremely dizzy and tired.. And suddenly the principal was carrying me to the nurse's office.
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:iconmustuko-chan:
Mustuko-chan Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
OMG, this is extremly helpful, because I've never ever fainted in my whole life. I felt a bit dizzy, yes, but I never fainted. 
I've got a question: what about an overdose of drugs? How does it actually look like?
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013   General Artist
I have no personal experience with the subject matter, so unfortunately I can't offer any more insight than a Google search could. It probably varies based on the type of drug and how large the overdose was. I would recommend looking it up. :)

Sorry about the late reply.
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:iconmustuko-chan:
Mustuko-chan Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
All right, thank you for the reply :'3
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:iconstrawberrynekos:
strawberrynekos Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this!
I found that my character has moments where he's close to passing out, so this is going to be extremely helpful. I would've blown over most of these symptoms.
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:icongreenglassnotes:
Greenglassnotes Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Student General Artist
This really helps!

I think I have low blood pressure. These near fainting experiences are especially common when I get up right after a dead sleep or sitting in the same spot for an hour or something. I feel warm and my vision just blots out. I also feel my head and limbs get numb with it and I'll crouch or lean on something. Not once have I felt nauseous from it though, and I learned that shifting around when possible before getting up helps avoid these faint attacks.
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:iconaelorn:
Aelorn Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I just learned from you that the colors I see when standing up too quickly could be caused by low-blood pressure... except that I've had my blood pressure checked two-three times in the last year, and was still allowed to have a pint of blood drained away after (I donate blood at school).
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013   General Artist
Yes! :) I recently learned that when this happens when you stand up, it's called orthostatic hypotension and it means that your blood pressure drops when you stand after sitting or lying down. That's probably why your blood pressure wasn't abnormal when they checked it. (I have the same problem. :hmm:)
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:iconaelorn:
Aelorn Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Oh good! Ha ha. I was a little worried! (Good news, you've inspired me to try writing again!)
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2013   General Artist
That's great! :D
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:iconangelicuscadere:
AngelicusCadere Featured By Owner May 10, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I feel unconscious yesterday (probably because I reacted badly to pain medication after a tooth surgery).

I woke up around midnight feeling very hot, dizzy and nauseous. I pulled of my blanket, but my room was still too hot, so I decided to get up and go to the bathroom to drink some water. As it was night, I can't say much about colors, but I felt weak and really hot, and drinking water only worsened the nausea, so I decided to go lie on the couch because I knew it was going to be colder than my bed. I walked toward the living room, feeling really dizzy and laying on the walls. There was a loud ringing in my ears.
I woke up lying on the floor (I don't remember falling or walking to that point). A side of my face hurted because it had it the flooring pretty hard, but I felt really relieved to be on the floor because it was cold and it made me feel less dizzy. I heard my parents talking to my dog (who was sleeping in their room when I fell, had heard me and was scratching on the door because he wanted to go to me). I called to my parents (it was hard to raise my voice), and when their heard me, they oppened the door and my dog ran towards me and started licking my hands and my face. I stayed on the floor a few minutes (because I was confortable), then I asked my father to help me to the couch.

Although this happened to me three times in my life (yet), I find your guide to be really useful because none of these experiences were either panicking or significant to me, so I tend to forget I could use them as references. Furthermore, those three black outs were due to illness and I've never been knocked out by a blow, which makes your work even more interesting.
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:iconxxhollowwindsxx:
xXHollowWindsXx Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013
Yes, it does seem silly that I found this very helpful. I am very fortunate to not have experienced this (though my friend has. She ran so hard into a glass door that she fainted), and I've always been hesitant about writing scenes like this because of it.
One thing: I've always been curious; what if the character, such as in a rapid paced fantasy story, faints and doesn't have time for recovery? Would that have even more painful consequences later?
If you don't know, then that is perfectly fine! ^.^ Thanks for this so much!
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:iconsen-dashi:
Sen-Dashi Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2013
My mother fainted while talking on the phone to my dad. She started to feel lightheaded, and experienced tunnel vision. She finally fainted and lost control of her bladder. She woke in a puddle of urine, not a fun experience for a grown woman who has been potty trained for decades.
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:iconbluevelvetwings:
bluevelvetwings Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I... was really glad to read that other people saw weird things when they fainted. I remember when I was about nine, I was biking on the edge of the sidewalk - my dad was jogging nearby; we were away from the house - my tire went off the sidewalk and I fell and hit my head on something - I don't know how long I was out, but I remember clearly seeing posters of pin-up girls, and then my dad was kneeling over me asking if I was okay. I was too embarrassed to say anything about my mental posters at the time (because who even knows where that came from) and it sort of got pushed to the back of my head until I read this XDDD

For the record, the rest of the way home was torture. I think my dad ended up carrying me and the bike, but I really don't remember.
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:iconaltophonse:
AltoPhonse Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013
Thank you so much for this! I really needed mroe information on lose of consciousness, it means a lot. Thanks for uploading! :)
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:iconchloemccrackhead:
ChloeMcCrackhead Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Student Artist
I've had a fainting experience. It happened a while ago. I got out of bed and went downstairs. I wasn't ill, but I felt dizzy. Suddenly, my vision was just red, (Like those colours you see when you close your eyes.) and strangely, I actually remember fainting. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly do. I was alright, and unfortunately, I still went to school! Does my story help? Thanks if it does.
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:iconinsertepicname-here:
InsertEpicName-here Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Student General Artist
I had anemia for a while, so I occasionally feel faint after a lot of physical activity or lack of food, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Normally, it starts with a brief (one-second) headache and light spots over my vision. Then my balance goes a bit wonky and everything starts to look like the haze you see over hot asphault. It normally goes away after a few seconds, but I did faint once. It involved low blood sugar, overheating, and iron deficiency. It just kind of felt like falling asleep, and then I was on the floor, surrounded by hysterical patrons.

Oh, and sleep deprivation sometimes gives similar symptoms- headaches, grainy vision, and so on.
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:iconthewhitejewel:
TheWhiteJewel Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
I've got low blood sugar and it really sucks feeling dizzy all the time. But instead of colours like you get, I get black spots even though I'm not looking into the sun or whatever. This can also give me a headache that feels a little like needles in my forehead, often accompanied by a bit of a wobble in stance.

Though this is probably useless, thought I might give in my two cents if it helps! ^^
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:icondevidoggy87:
devidoggy87 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Another thing to add is if it is an older character, it could be because of their heart. My grandpa was working at the grocery store and was working on putting things on the shelf. Then for no reason he forgot what he was doing, he said that he remembered black coming from the sides and then going to all black. Soon after being taken to the hospital he was told he needed a pacemaker.
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:iconhaimokochan:
haimokochan Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012  Student General Artist
Thanks! This is a great resource!
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Just a few thoughts to add:

- If a character is going into shock, they should never be given food or water. If another character is there, they should try to maintain their temperature (maybe wrap them in a blanket) and try to keep them calm.

-In certain cases, the person should be positioned different ways. If dizzy or light headed, they should sit with their head between their knees. In other cases, they should be laying flat on their back with their feet slightly elevated.

-I don't know if this is common, but one time that I almost passed out (I was standing up while getting my lip pierced- terrible idea.) my vision locked onto something and it kept me conscious. It was a friend that was watching, and all I remember is being absolutely fascinated by how clear and blue his eyes were. I focused on this until the pain lessened and then sat down and I was okay. I am almost certain I would have passed out without the distraction.
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:iconclumsydemonwithfire:
clumsydemonwithfire Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012   General Artist
This is a great resource, and a huge thanks should go to both you and all the deviants who helped contribute to this.
The only thing I would suggest adding to this is if someone had fainted or lost consciousness due to a sudden, intense impact, and the recovery that follows. Like, getting punched in the head or falling off a ladder. Some times these can have lasting effects like head trauma in addition to the rest of their body being less than fine. (Fortunately, I've never had such an experience, but that means I really can't help in describing it ^^; )

As for my own experience with fainting:
I've never actually fainted completely, but I remember spraining my ankle in high school. I was running down the hall, trying to get to lunch, and literally sprained my ankle by tripping over my own two feet. The pain was so bad, my vision blacked out. Like, there were no flashes of color or anything, it was more like a tunnel vision with the circle of visibility that became smaller and smaller until there was nothing left and I had to rely on touch and sound alone. The friend who was with me said my eyes were wide open and I looked normal, just a little confused. The buzzing in my head got stronger and stronger with every minute, nothing short of that feeling when the hospital puts you on laughing gas. I remember going to the nurse to tell her what happened and she was horrified to see how big my ankle swelled. But after sitting down for a minute or two I felt normal again.

anyway... not sure if that helps or not, just my two cents worth. :)
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012   General Artist
Thanks! :huggle:

That is definitely an important thing for writers to consider. While I lack the knowledge to write intelligently on the subject, I've edited a little and mentioned that people should research those things. :)

That's a really interesting experience (and I hope you felt better soon!). Do you mind if I link to it in the resource text?
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:iconclumsydemonwithfire:
clumsydemonwithfire Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012   General Artist
You're welcome! :hug:

yeah, research is a writer's best friend. and allowing people to add to this already really helpful resource is a great idea!

Thanks! I did feel better rather quickly, and I was a stubborn child, so I was walking on it very soon after, regardless of the cast they put on it :XD: I would not mind at all! If it would be helpful for others to know that not everyone experiences near-unconsciousness and full out unconsciousness the same way, then, by all means, go right ahead! :D
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:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012   General Artist
Okay, thanks! :aww:
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:iconclumsydemonwithfire:
clumsydemonwithfire Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012   General Artist
you're very welcome! :D
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:iconmonbon16:
MonBon16 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
I don't know if everyone feels like this, but I've passed out a couple times (usually from heat).
I usually start seeing white and my ears start ringing. Sometimes I can't actually hear or see anyone.
It always happens during something important like a tennis tournament or a band rehearsal or a choir concert, just my luck.
The most noted thing I remember is that it doesn't feel like I'm actually passing out.
I have fallen while still singing, playing, running, and marching.
If I see white for a while, I'm usually okay because I'm aware that I'm about to pass out so I sit down or something.
It's rather frightening waking up and realizing I essentially dropped dead :-/
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:iconkintupsi:
Kintupsi Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've had three fainting experiences; one from an inner ear infection, one for no apparent reason, and the last one from being extremely ill.

The first one I was only 8, but I still remember it well. I was in the bathroom washing my hands, and my nanny came in to help me get dressed for school. I suddenly felt off-balance, like the floor was ocean water. The next thing I know, I'm on the ground looking up at my nanny, who is calling the doctor on her cell phone. Turns out I had a really bad inner ear problem, which is actually something I was struggling with since I was five.

The second time I was having a piano lesson (I think I was 10) and I started feeling very sick, like I was about to puke. However, my piano teacher was one of the strict sorts, and I didn't want to ask to go to the bathroom until I finished the song. So I kept playing, and my vision got fuzzier and I felt dizzy, then I just collapsed right on the piano, banging my head on the keys and scooting the stool backward before falling quite ungracefully onto the floor. Needless to say, she panicked and called the school nurse and I had to sit around for thirty minutes with an ice pack on my head until my mom came and picked me up. :roll: I did not actually throw up, and to this day I have no idea why that even happened.

The last time I fainted was when I was 15, and very sick. It occurred in the bathroom after I had finished puking my guts out and stood up to wash out my mouth. Then I felt suddenly lightheaded and just fainted. I woke up with my head in the wastebasket. :o

Thanks for making this guide to help others write more realistic fainting scenes! I know from my own unfortunate ordeals that this is an accurate guide. :clap:
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