Most of the time, it happens before I even notice. And sometimes I can tell I’ve been in that state for a long time before I realize it’s happening. Days, weeks, sometimes more than a month.
You wouldn’t know by looking at me. I walk and talk and function. I get things done. I work and hang out. I play with my children. I even laugh. I don’t look any different than anyone else.
But a shell has formed between me and you. Between me and the world.
I am closed in. And safe. But it’s lonely, and disconnected. The thing about this shell is that it grows. It gets thicker and thicker. And inside, my thoughts get bigger, louder, and make less sense. My fears grow. I worry more. I feel panicked. Indecisive.
I begin to see the physical shell. It looks like a hazy blur. Like the permanent haze on a clear plastic glass that has been washed too many times.
It stands between us.
I can no longer feel the ground. I am standing in a hallway, but I can’t really feel myself there. Everything I touch feels foreign to me.
I feel scared now. That I’ve gone too far. Will I be able to claw my way back?
I reach out. I touch everything.
I feel a table’s surface. It is solid.
I feel the wall. I focus on its smoothness, the texture of the paint. The imperfections that catch my fingertips.
I imagine the ground beneath my feet. I reach out and sense it. It doesn’t move.
When you talk to me, I must really listen. Ignore my racing mind. I drag my body back from that other space. That other place. In my shell.
I don’t want to be there anymore. I want to be here. Here with you.
I am ready to feel again.
I know why it happens. It’s been here since I was a child. It served a purpose back then. Probably the only reason I made it through.
It’s an old habit that dies hard, though. It comes back unwarranted. Disconnecting me from joyful times. Happy times. Times I want to remember. Times I want to be here.