What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?


Jenna Lowrance, Journalist

Before we start, no, Alice in Wonderland syndrome is not when you feel compelled to watch Alice in Wonderland every day, as my friend guessed. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a neurological disorder where the sufferer is overcome with the feeling that their entire body has grown to the size of a giant, or has shrunken to the size of a fairy. It sometimes affects just parts of the body or maybe your room feels like it has gotten bigger all of a sudden, or so small that you don’t have room to breathe anymore. In children, the most common cause is inflammation of the brain, and in adults the most common cause is a migraine. Symptoms of AIWS are experienced by up to 30% of healthy individuals, and are fairly harmless in nature, but only 180 individuals have been described in medical literature. Now there are forums and communities all over the internet that are open about their diagnosis and the things they go through on a daily basis.

Perhaps the most accepting and easiest community to find is the AIWS community on tiktok. You can find tiktokers like @ hannah.dagenais and @ sophodoll who talk about their experiences with the disease. You’ll find anything from symptom lists to funny stories there, and everyone is welcome… except haters and trolls.

Now it’s time to talk about what you all came here for. What’s my personal experience with this disorder? The first time I experienced this was about 8 months ago. I was staying the night with my grandmother, and I got in my bed, and closed my eyes, and I suddenly felt as if my body had shrunk to the size of a fairy. I could’ve sworn that I only took up the tiniest portion of my bed. I immediately snapped my eyes open just to see that the room was normal sized. When I closed my eyes again, I felt small again. For me, feeling small was comforting, so I just went to sleep without really thinking about that much. It happened like this a few more times and I assumed everything was fine, and that this was all just normal.

Then came the incident a few weeks ago. I was about to go to bed, and I was running a bit late. It was 1:30 in the morning, when I finally got into bed, and closed my eyes, I was overcome with the feeling that I had grown to the size of a giant. I opened my eyes, and everything looked normal, but the feeling hadn’t gone away. It was horrible. It was unsettling and I was becoming dizzier by the second and I felt insanely terrified and sick. I got no sleep, and in the morning I climbed out of bed and began getting ready for school. While doing my makeup I got freaked out again and ended up having to take the day off. Though I was still unsettled, it was much easier to sleep in the daytime, and that night I went home and everything was back to normal. I haven’t had another incident since, and I can only hope that they stay few and far between.