It happens when you stand up fast, and the blood rushes down into your legs and feet, and your blood pressure drops, and you get kind of giddy and things go upside down for a minute, and your ears hiss, and you feel rather stupid. And sometimes you have to sit back down again for it to all settle into place.
It’s called “head rush,” but it seems to me that even that nomenclature is rather upside down – since everything is rushing away from your head, not toward it. But that’s what it’s called, and I would suspect that most of us have experienced it at one time or another in our lives.
I would also suspect that some of us may be experiencing a new kind of head rush right now. A kind of “social head rush.” And instead of the absence of blood to our brains, I suspect that this one can be caused by the absence of people in our lives; instead of our blood rushing away, it’s our social skills leaving our brains behind.
I have personally experienced this phenomenon rather frequently of late. And I’ve found that it’s not from the absence of close family and loved ones so much as it is the everyday folks who typically intersect my life – the people whose names I may not know, but whose faces are wonderfully familiar, whose voices I can recall with ease. Because it’s those faces that are now either missing entirely from my life or are hidden behind masks and thick plates of glass when I do see them; it’s those voices that are now muffled and faint and hard to understand sometimes, with their smiles often hidden or tucked behind barriers as well.
I seem to exhibit the symptoms of “social head rush” in odd and rather interesting ways. Whenever I do come into contact with one of those everyday someone’s in my life, I am completely disoriented and giddy. My social skills drain away entirely. I forget how to do things. Instead of my blood pressure, my I.Q. drops at least 20 points.
At the bank not long ago I just shoved a handful of checks at the teller through the drive-through window – with no deposit slip, no endorsements on the checks, no verbal instruction or commentary (I did ask her if I should put on my mask – regardless of the plates of solid glass and the distance and all between us); and she kept trying to give me cash and I didn’t understand why.
Whenever I am out walking the dog and cross paths with other walkers that I know – or don’t know – I “over-conversation” them. I can’t seem to stop myself from telling them every bit of nothing that rushes into my head (in the vacuum created by the loss of the social skills, I suppose).
I have definite social head rush when dressing myself (I think I’ve worn the same two outfits since late April, early May). I get into “couples arguments” with the dog about his lack of communication and paying attention to me when I’m talking. When I realized I did not have a fever thermometer that I could count on if I needed it, I thought I could probably use my meat thermometer in a pinch. I bought a new collar for the dog, brought it home, actually tried to put it on him, and realized it was a leash, not a collar, and then cried because I had to return it. I’ve forgotten completely how to drive or pump gas.
I choose to blame all of this on “social head rush.” Because it happens suddenly and has unexpected consequences, very much like standing up quickly after sitting too long.
But in the end, I do believe in wearing masks and in social distancing and in self-isolation, because I believe in helping to protect and take care of each other. And in spite of all the good and kind and creative things we may be doing during this time, I am finding that “social head rush” may be another new, often humbling, always entertaining, potential side effect of our current human condition. Perhaps it should be a life example as well – about why we should never sit too long in one place, and why we must never, ever, stop standing up occasionally – especially when it’s with and for one another.