Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Not Me

Unfiltered sensory input flooded my systems, crowding me out, jamming up my circuits, disrupting connections, limiting my ability to function physically and cognitively.
I felt my mind evaporating, scattering. I felt disconnected, detached, from everything on the inside and out. Nothing fit quite right, nothing belonged. As if some entity had removed the content from my shell and then shoved me back in carelessly, some bits not quite making it in with the rest. It was like dumping jello back in its mold slightly off center, so that the jello applied too much pressure here and left too much room for movement there, and some small pieces chipped away and were left lying around on the outside.
I was not me. My body and mind were not my own.
Chapa traffic jam in Maputo Chapa traffic jam in Maputo
In order to regroup and collect my scattered self, I had to get away from everyone, away from the source of my distress. I struggled to maintain enough of myself to make an escape, but too much of me was either loose or completely detached. I couldn’t get up and walk without help. Judy and Wendy had to help me up and start me on my way.
Once I got to my room, I wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out what it was I was trying to do. Was I attempting to recover all the scattered me bits? I was exhausted and confused. I had a vague notion that something was wrong, that something was missing.
I sat down to try and think it through. But my mind was going nowhere. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t stop fussing with the hem of my T-shirt and my gaze continually swept my surroundings, searching.
Was this how dementia patients felt? Was that why the ones I know keep fidgeting, their eyes constantly on the move? Because they have a vague notion that they need to recover a missing piece of a puzzle?
I finally gave in. I was too tired to figure it out—I crawled into bed and fell into a healing sleep.
I felt better when I woke up, almost three hours later. But I still wasn’t quite right. The hazy notion that I wasn’t whole, that something was lacking remained with me a few more hours. I couldn’t settle into myself. I only functioned at a basic level.
Eventually, towards the end of the day, I suddenly realized that I was me again. I was whole.