The In-Between Space

It usually takes about 2 full days to calm my mind. I stop being as judgmental, I live more presently, I am more aware of my body, my thoughts integrate and don’t get jumbled in an endless stream of mental jibber-jabber. Buddhists call this mental jib jab “monkey mind,” always jumping from thought-to-thought.

After 2 full days of unconnected time away from the concrete jungle, surrounded by nature, I notice the little things. Like how the dirt cakes over the cracks in the sidewalk. I reach down and begin tracing the grooves between the two slabs and scrape the dirt away. I ask myself, “Why do I feel compelled to do something, why do I participate, or want to have an impact? Why not just leave the matter alone? But if it’s just matter for me not to participate with, then why do I exist? Why do I feel that I can participate?

Creeping up the back of my head is a familiar swirling, like my head-space is being flushed down this existential crack between seemingly real and unreal. A woofing pressure pulses the air around me as if a cosmic speaker is blasting this question of questions:

“What (if anything) is really happening?”

A car whizzes by and I snap back. My toilet bowl head refills with the standard issue mental dialogue and I’m back on my way down the street, reminiscing about the short glimpse into the in-between space.

Is there something strange about me that let’s me see the in-between space? Is this a gift or a curse? Was I having a psychotic episode? There wasn’t really a large stereo speaker pulsating the air around me, but it felt like there was.

This wasn’t my first non-normal experience. As a child I had sporadic glimpses of the in-between space. Sometimes my thoughts would be double the speed, like life was in fast-forward. Or, I would lay in my bed and induce a feeling that my body was bouncing up and down on a trampoline. I didn’t talk about these experiences, because I didn’t understand them.

I didn’t want to be “different.” I didn’t want to be labeled. And that is unfortunately what happens to most people struggling with non-normal experiences as they are labeled with a mental health diagnosis. However, a mental health diagnosis describes symptoms, it doesn’t mean that someone is permanently marked or scarred. There is no need for there to be stigma tied to mental health diagnoses.

We need not be afraid of mental health or the in-between spaces. In fact, that’s where I often feel the most alive. It’s something that brings me back to realizing the world is much more complex and mysterious than I often care to notice. I’m happy I can see these in-between spaces, they make me… me.

We should be creating an environment for people to feel free and supported to navigate the in-between space — so we don’t have to live in silence, alone, or ashamed of who we are.

Go wander confidently around your in-between spaces and know you always have someone to turn to.

— Adam