As if stirring from a deep sleep, I emerged from one state of disorientation to another. From a world of muted sounds and soft colors into one of bright, harsh lighting and loud noises. My senses were overwhelmed. The colors were too bright; the sounds grating. There was a strong smell of meat cooking. I had no idea where I was.
“Excuse me,” someone said from behind me. Unthinking, I moved to let them pass.
I was standing in a doorway, holding open a glass door and letting the wind blow into the dining room of a Nation’s Giant Hamburgers.
How did I get here? What am I doing? Why am I here?
I blinked under the fluorescent lights and caught sight of my reflection in the windows. Hair disheveled, a tie-dye T-shirt, plaid pajama pants, slippers, and a bathrobe…why would I go out looking like this? As I came back to reality, I began to feel self-conscious, began to notice the stares and whispers of the customers.
Pieces of the events that led to my flustered entrance floated through my mind, but they were neither connected nor chronological. My memories were feelings more than thoughts. I remembered feeling desperate, afraid, angry, sad, violent. There was also a palpable sense of remorse. How could someone remember feeling all of those emotions in the span of an hour without recalling the accompanying events?
It turns out the answer to this question was more complicated than I ever expected. Mania, depression, psychosis. These were terms I would soon become familiar with, but on this windy winter night, I did not possess the knowledge or vocabulary to put words to what I was experiencing. I was left only with a combination of fear, uncertainty, and a sense of time lost.
Re-emerging from wherever your mind takes you when it pulls you away from reality is shocking and uncomfortable. Learning why and how this happens can both pacify and terrify you. But you will become accustomed to living in a simultaneous combination of two extremes…