Tuesday, March 17, 2009
It's not just a pretty word. It's a neurological disorder caused by brain damage. Sufferers have trouble understanding or using language. I've callously appropriated the term to talk about an experience that probably doesn't have a name. There's a similar condition that isn't caused by brain damage, or even smoking weed. I think it's just caused by brain overload. My brain gets overloaded pretty easily. One notable incident lasted for weeks.
It was my freshman year of college and I was living in Brooklyn and commuting into Manhattan for school. Growing up in West Palm Beach is pretty much the definition of sensory deprivation and my new life was pretty much the opposite of that. Then there was all that education I was getting.
At a certain point I stopped being able to talk. People would walk up to me and say, "Hey, Bev, what's up?" and I'd just look at them blankly, trying to form an expressible thought, like "Nothing much. What's up with you?", but it wouldn't come. Then I'd get distracted by the fact that it was taking so long to form a thought. Then my friend would say, "Talk to you later, Bev."
It was very distressing, especially since I figured I was the only person to whom this had ever happened. A thing I'd never be able to explain to anyone and something too weird and trivial to bother trying to explain anyway. Turns out a friend of mine from high school was going through the same thing around the same time. She had also left West Palm to go to college.
Last night, my friend Heather told me about a similar experience when she traveled to Ohio for college.
"I was in college and in a new city and people would walk up to me and be like "Hi, Heather" and in my head I would say "Hi" but I couldn't make my mouth say the words," she explained.
"I would feel like such an asshole," she added.
I know the feeling. It reminds me of Stendhal Syndrome and other situations where foreignness or an overwhelming encounter with beauty can cause temporary insanity or sudden illness. Nice to know these things happen to other people. Confusion and anxiety love company dontcha know.