Some days my brain echoes with static and feels so stuffed with cotton balls that my favorite places feel grating and abrasive and my very existence is taxing and uncomfortable. The mere act of surviving becomes difficult and snapping out of this state of agony does not mark an effective return to productive normalcy. These interruptions are the reason entire tasks and conversations fall through the cracks. When the thickest fog lifts, it marks a return to a convincing facsimile of normalcy that makes it easy for onlookers (and even myself) to think everything is okay and that I ought to be more responsible, productive, and accountable than I’m capable of. And yet, those life-altering interruptions cause hours to disappear in tormented reverie and best intentions to become forgotten until they resurface as frustrations at some later date.
I have good moments and miserable ones in the same day, and the shift between them is fickle and unpredictable. It is almost impossible to maintain an optimistic outlook when music becomes annoying and the physical discomfort in my cranium contorts my face into a more grim and exhausted version of the affectionately-named ‘resting bitch face.’ There is such an intense separation between my soul’s goals and desires and my external sensory perceptions that it creates a nauseating discord between experience and reality. It never fully reconciles itself.
In some ways, this is simply reality. It has been noted lately that I seem to thrive when I spirit away for a long weekend to a place I love, freed from stress and multitasking and the ability to disappoint myself. And that when I return home, I find myself crashing, running face-first into a brick wall of grogginess and achy bedridden depression.
When I’m feeling clever and optimistic, I believe that my sensitivity to situations is my new superpower, the Nissan Altima my radioactive spider or bat bite that blessed me with superhuman ability to notice the important things and find the inane intolerable. If something is bothering me a little bit, it hits me like two tons of glass and steel. I simply cannot take it. From strident noises to unsatisfactory situations, the slightest trigger brings on a massive headache and utter despair. The promise of fishing or a morning hike can pull me out of bed, while a normal day may weigh so heavily that the time between my morning alarm and my first sip of coffee stretches to an hour or two.
This is the ultimate blessing and curse. Such sensitivity may help me quickly identify the best and worst aspects of my life in a way that takes a normal, patient person years to dissect. It also makes me uniquely terrible at coping with what most people refer to as ‘normal,’ ‘real life,’ ‘the journey,’ ‘the process,’ etc. It is what it is. And so, all I can do is try to share my hard-won insights with willing eyes and ears. I wish to offer readers all of the inspiration that pain and passion place in my heart without the need for them to suffer unduly or get hit by their own metaphorical cars to reach a point of self-examination.
Climbing over the hump of post-concussion syndrome and its ensuing depression requires an unblinking commitment to honesty and action. The same can be said of any life worth living. You get really good at speaking your mind when dozens of doctors ask you candidly about ringing ears and the ability to get out of bed, your appetite, your sleeping habits, your sex drive, your headaches, what makes you feel the best and the worst any given day. Even though it’s taken me five or ten times as long to write these few paragraphs as I’d like, I remain committed to seeing them through and enjoy sharing them un-redacted with anyone who is spending their precious time reading them.
It’s a strange feeling having your heart and soul feel separated from your mind, which feels separated from your body. Robbed of the ability to operate ‘normally,’ there is extra time for introspection and hypersensitivity to whims and impulses. Mostly, there’s a lot of time spent wishing you felt better than you do. Knowing that the core of what makes you ‘you’ is in there somewhere, suppressed by layers of fog and dulled processing speed and a general subdual that makes everything feel slower, harder, less interesting. The slight lag time, almost imperceptible by the outside observer, is also where richness of thought swirls and makes simple moments treasured and profound.
Amid this relative dimness are points of light, moments when I might appreciate a guitar riff in a song with the same alacrity I used to or find myself transfixed on a bird as the world and its worries recede around me. Music is still unpleasant more often than it is welcome, but it makes those highlights all the more treasured. The same could be said of moments when the pages are actually turning while I’m reading and writing or when I’m on my bike and actually enjoy the nuances of balance and motion like I used to. Being alive is a wondrous miracle. If you do it for long enough, you’re bound to get used to some of the best parts and crushed by some of the worst.
In the course of time it took me to scrawl out this post, some truly beautiful things have happened to me and around me. I’ve been simultaneously putting them to paper, so tomorrow comes post of bright moments from a slow week. They’re so good, you might wonder if this week was bad at all. And I might, too.