Sometimes before my eyes are even open I'm hit with this solid wall of disorientation. "I" am still me, the observer, but there is the sensation of being in the wrong life. Like the strength of deja vu, except that the only thing I know in advance is that this is the wrong place. I recognize my body as mine, even though it doesn't feel entirely correct. Maybe it should be heavier or lighter-- I mean I recognize the stock model, but this one isn't the right one. Like two people buy the same car and drive it for 32 years, and they're bound to be different, right?
And it's not just physical. When I open my eyes and look around I recognize all the things around me, but I don't recognize them as being components of my life. After a couple seconds I can always reintroduce myself to myself, but for hours afterwards there is a panicky instability to my thoughts. As if for a practical joke you were to chloroform your brother or next-door-neighbor, cut their hair and perform some light plastic surgery and put them in your pyjamas and into your bed. He would wake up in a panic because even though all the evidence points to him being Jim, he knows in his heart and soul that he's Bob. But to protest that seems ridiculous, right?
It's happening while I'm awake sometimes now, too. The other day, picking up tacos next door, in the time it took for me to walk from the soda cooler to the cash register, everything fell away from my mind as if my whole life were dried mud that was crumbling at each step. By the time I got to the door I was happy, feeling just fine, and stepped out onto the sidewalk with no idea where I was. Was someone waiting for me? Had I driven? Did I walk? Which way? Finding that I had a heavy carabiner loaded with keys and a bicycle helmet gave me the clue, and in about four or five seconds I remembered everything again, but with the certainty that this is not my life.
If you'll permit me a flaky conceit, if during sleep our minds drift off from our bodies, I've been coming back to the wrong one in the morning, like the millions of honey bees who can't find their way back to the hives. And that it's happening when I'm awake is freaking me out a little.
And I don't have any clues about who's life I'm supposed to be in: I think in dreams I can see it, but when I wake up here, like this, the elastic snaps and any details of what I was dreaming (or daydreaming) about are maddeningly obscured.
I know a variety of dementia-related disorders run in my family, but isn't 32 usually waaaaay to early for that kind of thing to begin?