Thursday, October 29, 2015


     I was 16 the first time it happened, coming back from my daily run, almost to my driveway. I stopped running and walked the rest of the way. Then I told my mother.
     She listened with that "worried" look on her face while I tried to put the experience into words. It's extremely difficult to do that, even today, and is for most people like me.
     My mother said I looked pale and sweatier than I usually did after running two miles.
     Neither one of us took it very seriously until it happened again and again and again and..Well, you get the idea.
     Only my family and my best friends knew about these weird little (less than a minute long, usually) episodes. I didn't tell anyone else because they didn't slow me down at all and because I was afraid people would think I was making it up to get attention. 
     Now, I don't tell people because I don't want them to feel sorry for me. There is no reason to do that. The only thing my label has taken away from me is my driver's license. (That's a huge clue and the only one today.) 
     Back to high school...My mother and I tried to solve the mystery together, keeping track of when it happened and what I was doing at the time. There was no pattern, but every three or four weeks, it happened again in clusters. We started calling them "dizzy spells" and later shortened the name to "spells."
      My diaries from those years have notes in them like this:
                                                     Monday,  2 spells
                                                     Tuesday,  1 spell
                                                     Friday,     3 spells

     Skipping ahead a few pages to the next month, there are similar notes. "Spells" every three or four weeks, or sometimes five or six. If there were several in one day, I felt tired and confused until bedtime but not so much that I couldn't finish my homework or go running. I kept getting straight A's on my report cards.
      Sometimes I was in the middle of a dream or sitting in class and WHAM, it would appear and take me somewhere else in my mind, a familiar place that was frightening at first but then wonderful..beyond wonderful. I didn't always want to let go and come back.
     Most of the time, no one noticed my little breaks from reality; I was really good at hiding them and still am even though it's harder now. People around me talk and talk and talk while I pretend to listen. In reality, I don't understanding a word they are saying. 
     I became an expert at pretending to be normal. That's a basic survival skill in high school.
     My mother made an appointment with our family doctor. He couldn't figure out what was going on and no one else could for six years. I'm glad; I wasn't ready to know what I am.
     Coming up...Hello Chapel Hill, it's time for college!