My brother, having experienced what I'm going through (twice), checked in on me the other day.
"What's it like in there?" he asked, pointing to my head.
I was watching TV when he came by, and was confused by his question.
"How are you feeling about being back?" he asked.
I hadn't really thought about it. I'd been home a few days at this point, and nothing about the whirlwind that was the past 365 days had sunken in yet.
"I don't know," I responded, not looking away from the TV. "It feels the same I guess... nothing has changed."
And that was the truth. Nothing had changed. My environment and everything around me was the same as I'd left it a year ago. Parts of me felt as if the past year didn't happen. Yet, it did.
"It feels like a dream, you know?" I elaborated. "Because I'm getting back into this familiar routine as if nothing happened... but I know it did. I feel like I might have been asleep for a year. Kind of like reality, but on pause."
He smiled knowingly, happy to see that I finally understood what he'd experienced in the past.
I knew the last year had happened, because the memories, photos, permanent reminders and writings spoke of it. Yet the only way to describe it to anyone who asked, was to liken it to a dream.
I explained this to my friend A, who, having spent a year in New Zealand, knew exactly what I was talking about. She mentioned going through the same experience. It feels good having people around who get it -- this bizarre sense of having lived another life while in a dreamlike state.
Hopefully I'll be back to 100 per cent in a few days so I can start working on my life in Toronto.