Alternate Realities


That man, that’s not me
I go, where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the liffey
I’m not here
This isn’t happening

Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely

This mantra is usually reserved for situations I intentionally try to remove myself from. But when you knock on this door, there is no one home. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have the right house, or the even the right state. Or even the correct world.

I opened my eyes on Saturday morning and it didn’t feel quite right. But it wasn’t a bad feeling. It was the first time in a long while that I awoke without the feeling of absolute dread. I wasn’t raring to go or anything – it was more of a feeling of tranquility. I was, for once, in a good mood. It didn’t matter that others around me were feeling negative emotions and engaging in less than friendly behavior. I was okay.

Except, I spent the whole day feeling like I was forgetting something. Maybe I lost something important or didn’t do something I was I supposed to. I shrugged it off. We all have those days, right?

I didn’t expect to go through the same thing Sunday. And I really didn’t expect the same result on Monday morning, knowing I had to go to work.

I dressed for work and it was easy. I looked great without even really trying or worrying about it. I went to leave the house and was stricken with that same feeling that I was forgetting something. I did a self-check, like I always do before leaving. Purse, containing wallet, keys, makeup, cigarettes, lighter, and Blackberry – check. Teaching bag containing notebooks, paper, pens, speakers, journal, water bottle and crocheting (I get bored on the bus) – check. Capricorn / Taurus charm necklace that I have worn every day since I was 16 – check. Wedding ring, engagement ring, and anniversary ring – check. What could I be forgetting?

The answer was nothing. I double checked. Nothing. But as I was walking down the street, I noticed that things didn’t look quite the same. I recognized everything. The hill, the bridge, the creek, the pizza place on the corner. But it was as if I had only vaguely seen these places before.

I’ve lived on the same street almost my entire life. I moved into the house next door to where I currently live when I was 3. I lived there until I was 18 and then again from 19 to 20. I only lived in a city neighborhood and Washington County for short periods of time before I moved into an apartment down the street from my childhood home. Finally, I ended up here.

I took the bus into the city and it was if I was in a place I had visited a long, long time ago. In fact, I felt like a foreigner in my own body, but like I knew myself from the outside. Everything resembled things I knew, but didn’t quite look the same. And even stranger, I wasn’t frightened by this. I was completely at peace with the whole situation. Actually, it was preferable. I could make a clean break and start over.

Tuesday night, my husband and I went out for a walk in the evening with our son in the stroller. When I was at home, the surroundings didn’t seem so alien. But once I stepped outside, everything was different, and yet still exactly the same.

I asked him, “Do I seem different to you?”

He answered, “Different how?”

“Like behaving differently.”

“I don’t know. Could you explain?

“Okay, it’s like this,” I began. My husband and I have conversations about paranormal and psychological subjects all of the time. I had no fear that C.S. would judge me, but I worried he wouldn’t understand it. So, I explained all of the above to him and continued, “Think about if existence, like our dimension or reality, was a radio station and there’s a spectrum of frequencies. Say our reality, the one we have lived in our whole lives was 97.7. Then, think about what happens when you tune the radio one or two points up or down. You can usually still hear the station pretty clearly, but it doesn’t sound exactly the same because there might be static or interference from another station. Except, it’s not really static that’s happening. It’s like I’m living in a different reality that is so parallel to this one that it’s only slightly perceived. Do you understand?”

He answered, “Yes, completely.”

I continued, “Maybe it’s like I shifted to this different frequency, but I don’t even feel like me. Inside, or out. I feel like an alternate me.”

“I’m not complaining. It’s better this way.”

On this frequency, we’ll call it 97.8, in this reality, there aren’t any symptoms of bipolar disorder. In the other, 97.7, I was constantly being bombarded with emotion and internal conflict. I was constantly trying to process something. I was plagued with irritability and anxiety. I woke up in the morning already grumpy before I opened my eyes. A spent some portions of my day dragging myself through it. I constantly sought some relief or somewhere to hide from it. And the thoughts and emotions raced and raged so much that by the end of the day, it was impossible to even find the escape of sleep despite the incredible fatigue.

But here, in 97.8, there is a complete absence of all of the background noise and the volume is way down. Everything is less intense. I feel forgetful, but I’m not. I’m not happy; I’m not sad. I am not nothing but I am also not anything. It’s not like the circuit was just turned off. The circuit no longer even exists. Not even a trace.

I wish I could explain it better. And I don’t know how long it will last. (I kind of hope forever). I don’t know if this means that there is anything wrong, and I certainly hope it doesn’t. I wish everyone with bipolar disorder could have at least a brief moment of this in their lives. It is so liberating.

It’s not like the good hypomanic moments that we look forward to. Well, maybe you don’t but I know I do. I spend so much time drowning in depressive episodes that I treasure any amount of time I can feel great with no reason. I know I shouldn’t encourage hypomania because I know the damage that is possible. But on the pendulum of constant swings from up to down and back again, feeling normal is something more fleeting than any other alternative.

Back to the point. This is not hypomania. I am not up. I am not compelled to do impulsive things, nor am I feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to talk and the flight of ideas. They aren’t there.

This isn’t what I’d consider normal either. Mostly, I’d consider normal to be the absence of symptoms, but only with a sense of contentment about my life and myself. This is tranquility. I am not settling for my life and myself. I am not loving it either. I like it, and I’m in the process of living it instead of constantly evaluating it.

I don’t feel hazy or removed like I have in periods of dissociation and depersonalization. It’s almost like having partial amnesia, where I only remember 90% of everything. Like how familiar things are supposed to look, and even maybe the way I’m supposed to look, act, feel, and function.

It’s kind of nice. I’d like to stay on this frequency. At least until I find something wrong with it.

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One thought on “Alternate Realities

  1. Pingback: Spitting Fire « As the Pendulum Swings

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