As I write this, it is almost 6:00 in the morning and I have been awake now for three hours. This is my normal. I keep my phone next to me so I can play calming music or a thunderstorm on YouTube in hopes of falling back asleep. I keep snacks in my reusable bag to fight away the munchies and sometimes, I just end up staring at my dark ceiling for hours as my anxiety flips my brain over and over.
Last night, I had to work. It was a short shift but a weird one. In a lot of ways, it was normal. I helped customers, bagged groceries, and ignored the pain in my back, quads, and hamstrings. I was also, once again, hit with the reality that I can’t drive. I was outside collecting carts and a woman needed assistance. She asked me to bring her an electric scooter, so I ran inside and got one. She then asked me to back it in so she could have an easier transition from her car. That’s when the trouble started. I tried hard to do what she asked, but the neurons in my brain wouldn’t cooperate and I ended up accidentally hitting her car. After a thousand apologies, I ran inside and asked a coworker for help and he did what I couldn’t.
As I type this, I struggle to keep from crying from embarrassment and helplessness. When I was a high school freshman, my neurologist diagnosed me with cerebral palsy and basically told me I couldn’t drive because of the effect it had on my gross motor skills. I took her seriously, but I didn’t believe her. I was 14. I thought I was invincible because I had no need to drive then. Man, was I ever wrong. Now, at 25-almost-26, I should be independent. I should, by all means, be driving and not taking public transportation or waiting for my parents to pick me up from work. I know this neurological condition is a part of me, and something I have no control over, but I feel ostracized. Especially since this is an invisible condition, a mild case, and I “look normal” with no need for additional assistance to help me walk.
Additionally, something else weird happened later on. After I clocked out, and as I was waiting for my mom to come get me from work, I walked around the store trying to figure out what I wanted to eat for dinner. I couldn’t decide on anything and went outside. I was trying to get to the gas station nearby because I figured I could get something cheap to satisfy my hunger. Why I thought about going to the gas station when I had literally just left a grocery store is beyond me. That should have been my first sign that something was wrong. Even though I had music in my ears (Be More Chill musical to be precise. Broadway junkie!), I was not entirely there. Apparently, I ended up walking in the road, in the midst of grocery store traffic, completely unfazed and unaware of my actions. My coworker saw me and walked me back into the store. I think I scared him. I’ve experienced dissociation before, and have lost countless hours, and even days, over the years because of it, but I’ve never experienced anything like what happened last night. That was scary. I could’ve gotten hurt or worse. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad he found me. What doesn’t make sense to me is that most of the time when I dissociate, there’s a trigger involved. There was none this time. Maybe that’s a mystery of the brain I’ll never solve. For now, rest is needed. It’s 6:27 now. I think I’m going to try to get some sleep, be more chill, just relax. Whenever I wake up today, I’ll ground myself using my senses and maybe a hot cup of chai tea. Remind myself that I’m still here.