In times of crisis, be they emotional- or sensory-based, I have the strongest urge to press my entire form into the floor. Often I'll rise from the couch or the dining room table without a word, gasping for breath, the crush of input and anxiety thickening my lungs, and I will slip away into the bedroom. The blinds are always shut there, the slats revealing just enough daylight for me to navigate my way, bruise-free, through the door, down the small corridor, and around the edge of the mattress to where there's a perfect Rachel-sized spot between the bed and the wall. I will drop to the ground then, supine, with the backside of my entire body coming into contact with the floor. I will feel the mix of rug and wood against the underside of my thighs and the crown of my head, and only then will I cry the heavy, heaving cries of SPD - a volcano of emotional eruption. The breathless tears always run their course within minutes, and I often arise dazed, as if having been momentarily possessed by some powerful, indescribable force.
I hit the deck while visiting my parents the other day, simply slipped off of their tan leather couch to the floor below, taking shallow breaths through tears until I was once again coherent. Having parented me and my SPD quirks for over three decades, this did not strike them as odd any more than my deep pressure brushing or fidgets strike them as odd. The following morning over breakfast, my mom recalled my life-long penchant for laying on the floor. She remembered that I used to come home from preschool as a toddler, grab my favorite stuffed animal around the scruff of his neck, and sprawl out across the living room carpet, a ritual that I found particularly calming. In childhood, my sister and I would take to the floor when watching our favorite shows on TV. While she sometimes preferred the soft quilted bed above, I rarely joined her there, as I felt grounded on the floor, soothed and focused on the colorful Nickelodeon cartoons as they splashed on the screen. Even upon moving out for the first time, as I packed my childhood belongings into cardboard box after cardboard box, I found myself so overcome with the weight of change that I sunk once again to the ground, limbs akimbo, in distress.
I didn't know it then - not after hours of intense preschool playtime or halfway through SNICK or even sitting amongst the trinkets and talismans of my early life - but my insistence on connecting with the floor was yet another one of those primitive sensory tools I had fashioned myself when an early diagnosis of SPD wasn't an option. I could add so many of my current tools to this list; even my favorite fidget, a tiny fur-covered turtle, was a product of this earlier era, a time when none of my unique behavior and needs had names, and I did certain things for no other reason besides they felt right.
I know now, almost four years into my SPD diagnosis, that in laying down sprawled across the floor, I gave my otherwise dysregulated body proprioceptive input through my own weight. Like a reverse weighted blanket, I pressed against the ground, feeling where I ended and where the challenging, confusing world began.
These days, I am a woman flush with sensory tools. A visit to my apartment reveals everything from fidgets to brushes to weighted blankets and even a trampoline. But sometimes, when the world is just a bit sharper, when sounds echo through my every sinew, and adulthood throws yet another wrench into my life's plans, I hit the deck. It is here that I am a climbing vine reaching across the stable plane to cast myself into the sunlight, and it is from here that I rise, once again patient and ready to embrace life's rockier moments.
To learn more about my adult life with SPD, read more of my blog, Coming to My Senses, and visit my website at www.rachel-schneider.com