I am fully engaged when I teach. But when I return to my office, completely drained, I see the rest of the world through a haze. If I have to wrench myself out of my state of mind, to engage with the world around me, as soon as I can, I retreat back into the fog.
In crowded and noisy situations such as parties, I often find myself in a bubble that separates me from everyone else. Suffering from sensory overload, the world whirls around me while I stand alone, bewildered and confused, out of sync.
I sometimes imagine myself as a soap bubble, floating just above the ground. Occasionally the bubble dips barely touching the ground, only to rise shortly after. During my first year after the surgeries, when I was in that state of mind much of the time, I couldn't help but wonder whether I will ever be fully a part of this world, whether I'll always be out of sync to a large extent. I used to feel alone and lonely, and a tad fearful, as my bubble floated along, detached from the world.
But now that it happens less frequently, I welcome that feeling of detachment.
I've learnt that it is a sign that I've been overdoing it and my brain needs a break. Sometimes, during crunch time at work, or when I have too much on my docket, such as medical appointments, lunch dates, grocery shopping, my battered brain rebels, demanding a break, demanding time in the bubble.
I don't welcome the punishing headaches I suffer after I've spent too much time out of the bubble. But I do welcome the isolation of the bubble they force me into. It keeps the world at bay, giving my bruised and battered brain the respite it needs to heal.