At some point in college, I'm not even sure when, I was gifted with the nickname, "spacey gracie". It never really bothered me. For the most part I thought it was pretty cute so I never said anything about it or thought about what it could possibly mean.
Now, thinking about it more, I know exactly why I was "spacey gracie". I was depressed, malnourished, and would have given anything to get out of my mind. I was so disconnected that I literally was in space most of the time, keeping myself away from the immense amount of emotional pain I was experiencing.
Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity.
(http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders) To describe dissociation in the simplest way possible, it is like sitting and watching your life as if it were a movie; you are entirely disconnected from everything that is yourself.
I've dealt with bouts of dissociation over the years. Sometimes it is as mild as feeling "zoned out", other times it can be a scary experience. There is one particular time I can remember when I was driving and felt completely outside of my body. I was so nervous to continue my drive, I felt like I had no control over the car. I happened to be on the highway, so it wasn't the easiest place to stop and take a breather, but luckily I made it home safe.
I believe that dissociation can be a coping skill to use when you are dealing with challenging emotions; however it is not a very positive coping skill (though sometimes it feels like the only thing we can do). So in college when I became "spacey gracie", it was because I knew no other way to handle my eating disorder and depression. All I knew was that I did not want to deal with it at all.
I honestly believe that most people thought I was dumb because I could never focus on anything and was never present to what was going on in front of me. Though this thought hurt, I was able to laugh off any comments I would get.
Today, even though I sometimes refer to myself as "spacey gracie", I am no longer her. I have learned to be grounded, how to be present in my mind, body, and spirit, and how to cope in other ways. It can be extremely tough sometimes but I realize it is the healthy thing to do; as you probably know, it is better to release emotions rather than stuffing them down, paying them no attention, and waiting for them to explode.
I think I will forever be "spacey gracie" in some people's minds but I know now that I can change the definition of who that girl is. These days I chose to be here on earth and awake in every moment that surrounds me.
"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot