Yesterday I went to an appointment at my psychiatrist’s office to monitor my medications (they aren’t working!) and check my general life stress level (see previous parenthetical note and exclamation point!). I’ve been having trouble controlling my mood the past several days as it seems to swing about, to and fro, hitting multiple extremes within a single day. I apparently have a mild (and latent?) form of bipolar disorder that has been lying around waiting for a chance to pounce. Sure, why not right now, when I’m trying to pick up the pieces of my life and barely hanging on to a moderate level of functioning from day to day?
Anyway, as I pulled into the parking lot at my psychiatrist’s office, I noticed a graying-haired woman joyfully skipping down the middle of the office driveway. Soon she was perfecting an exaggerated marching band walk with her chin up and elbows shooting at the sky with each step, and she was doing it straight for my car. She was trailed by a young man who looked like he could be her son. He was busy on his phone, walking slowly as though bored by or used to his mother’s public performance art. He glanced up at her occasionally to make sure she didn’t march in the street or give anyone a black eye with her enthusiastic elbows.
She got closer to my car and I realized that I knew her. She was the patient from my psychiatric hospital stay who taught me how to “do the shoulder shrug” to Stevie Wonder. And she was walking right toward me, now walking like an Egyptian. Please don’t recognize me, please don’t recognize me… I thought as a huge smile formed on her face. Please be smiling at a squirrel or something shiny… She waved at me and I smiled and waved back.
And then she marched on past my car.
I have nothing against this woman personally, I really don’t. Seeing her today brought back the circumstances under which we met each other in the first place. They’re circumstances that are still really hard for me to revisit. I sat in my car and experienced a full blown flashback of some mundane moment (if there is such a thing) from the psychiatric hospital. I heard the technician’s the nurses’ and the other patients’ voices as though they were right in front of me again. My psychotic roommate was walking around turning on all the showers, the technician was trying to explain to a patient that he wouldn’t get to see his doctor until the next morning, the nurses were calling out names for evening meds.
I wasn’t in my car anymore, I was sitting balled up on a chair in front of the television with several other patients, waiting for the nurse to call my name for my evening insulin injection.
“Laney?” the nurse called…
And I was back in my car.
How long did that take? Was I late for my appointment? How did I lose complete track of space and time?
I was still absurdly early for my doctor’s appointment because that’s how I roll. The dancing woman was gone, I had a great parking space, and the world just kept on turning. My present tense sprung a past leak for a moment, and then it was gone.