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Under a Spell

With SPD, information doesn’t organize itself properly in my brain, which means that I live my life in extremes.

It is why I’m often deemed as overly dramatic. But I have no control over the theatrics.

Because my brain doesn’t handle information properly, it is difficult for me to regulate it. I can fly into a rage over what appears to be nothing. I can cry harder and longer than most. I can go from laughing to screaming in a matter of seconds. I become both over-responsive and under-responsive to sensory stimuli.

Polar extremes.

Highs and lows.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde.

When over-responsive, or overstimulated, I vibrate. Like my body is experiencing a tremor. I become overly-aroused. Excited. When under-responsive, or under-stimulated, I crash. Like my body is immobile. I become unresponsive. Disconnected.

During times of overstimulation, I become so focused that it’s like I fall under a spell.

And I don't realize it’s happening.

Until I'm under it.

And it happened very recently.

In a matter of three weeks, my husband and I were finding out if the offer we put in on a house was accepted and (hopefully) becoming first-time homeowners. This meant the possibility of leaving the rented house and of getting the new house ready. Of packing and cleaning. Of unpacking and organizing. Of finding time to add to an already packed schedule.

I was also launching this blog. Preparing for it was overwhelming in itself. There is so much I want to share about SPD, but have to find ways to explain. I lived with it for over 35 years before I had a diagnosis, and thus, a language to describe it. It is a language I am still learning. So I’m trying to explain things that I have to first learn how to explain.

I was also creating this website, so people who suffer from SPD have another resource. A resource I wish existed when I discovered I had SPD. I was writing the content, designing the website and researching things like which font types to use and how to take advantage of SEO.

I did all of this while teaching two online classes, totalling 40 students. So I had all of their emails and concerns and papers and forums in my head.

I was buzzing with the overstimulation of it all. Scattered, but focused. Operating like a machine. Requiring little fuel. No breaks. No distractions.

So when friends and family were added to the mix, I went into extreme overdrive, pushing myself past limits I had already exceeded. Becoming more scattered. Doing things before I had time to process them.

I had a shower and a bachelorette party to attend in one day, which I pushed myself through until the overstimulation was too much for me to handle, so I mentally crashed, but had to drag my body through the rest of the day. I fell into my most primitive state: easily triggered and unable to process even the slightest task or interaction. It took me days after to recover.

And it was the Jewish High Holidays, which meant that my husband’s family gathered four times in two weeks. And I was supposed to attend at least once a week and to bring a dish. I was too overwhelmed to make it there the first week, though I still made the dish. To be a good shiksa. Even though it took all the processing I had.

And we had two out-of-town weddings in one weekend. So I had to transition from 60- to 80-degree weather. I had to transition from one wedding to one hotel room to another wedding and to another hotel room. Transitions that were difficult for me to process, pushing me into an even higher overdrive to get through.

Each event caused overstimulation I could barely handle. I tried to eat right and to breath deeply to calm myself. To find time to exercise. To bring some balance back into my system.

But it didn’t work.

So I remained in a constant heightened state.

My body vibrating and my mind racing, I consumed caffeine and sugar to keep going. To feed the beast.

I became easily distracted when talking to others.

I started saying the wrong words.

The lights and the sounds and the smells took over and it all became a blur.

I operated on little, easily-interrupted sleep. I couldn’t relax or come down.

Until I crashed.

Unable to feel or to think or to move.

I flatlined.

There is no telling when this under-stimulation will occur. So I have to wait for it. But with unabated breath. Because I don't know when it will strike. But I know when it does, it will be bad.

For as much as I feel when I fall under a spell, I feel nothing when I come out of it. Numb.

I become unable to function.

I can’t digest food, so it is difficult for me to eat.

I can’t process my thoughts, so it is difficult for me to speak.

My brain doesn’t receive proper signals for my motor skills to work, so it is difficult for me to move.

I am in a trance.

If I close my eyes, even for a second, I fall into a deep sleep.

Like Sleeping Beauty.

Under another spell.

All images and text © Jenna Grace 2017-2020