July – Dissociation

July – Dissociation

July Mental Health Discussion

Dissociation

It’s that time again folks, welcome to our next mental health discussion! This month, my suggestion comes from a new friend of mine, Danielle. Thanks girl!

Today we’re going to talk about dissociation. Now, many of you might not necessarily know what this means, especially if you do not suffer from mental illness (or a mental illness that can cause these episodes). So, let me explain what dissociation means and try to give you insight into how it feels.

Dissociation is defined as: a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity.

Now, some people think that this is the same as psychosis. But it is not. Psychosis is defined as: an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not. Symptoms may include false beliefs (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear (hallucinations).

Personally, when I am dissociating, I have a hard time connecting with my emotions. I feel a lack of anything, which includes fear. This becomes very dangerous, as I get suicidal thoughts/ideations and am not afraid of the consequences of my actions. I forget all of the reasons I have to live. I forget that I don’t actually want to die, that death actually scares the heck out of me. This has always been what has held me back from choosing to end my life, so when those fears go away, it’s not a good situation to be in to say the least. As my friend puts it, “It’s like the worst auto pilot ever and you can’t get access to the controls”.

Another symptom of dissociating is not understanding time. Not knowing how much time has passed, what day it is, or even what season it is (for me anyway). This can be really unnerving, especially if you’re alone. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the couch, head in my hands, trying to calm my breathing during an episode. I’ll look up and see 3 hours has gone by since I last looked at the clock. It almost feels like time stands still, but the world keeps going on without you. Time is frozen, yet it’s also moving way too fast. I even forget sometimes that I’m in my own apartment.

Now, lastly, here’s something I’ve touched in briefly before about dissociating, and it very common in people with bipolar disorder like myself. There is a lack of identity. You feel as though you’re meant for more or meant for greater things. For me, this comes out as an obsession of mythical creatures. A want for them to be real so you can be a part of something bigger than yourself. Something that explains why you’re “not normal”. For me, I start to feel like I’m waiting for someone to just show up and tell me there’s this secret and hidden world that I’m being called to, like out of a weird fairy tale. You have a hard time identifying with other people around you or who you identify as when you’re not going through an episode. The person you were, is left behind. You feel like that’s not even the true you.

I hope I was able to shed some light on what dissociating feels like so you have a better understanding of how people feel when it is happening. It is just as scary as it sounds. In the event that someone you know is going through this, the best advice I can give is make sure they are not alone. There’s no telling what someone will do in that state and most cases require hospitalization until it passes. Thank you for taking the time to read today.

 

I was hesitant to write about this subject. There’s still a little bit of shame in me regarding dissociating. It makes me feel like I’m “crazy”. Like there’s something wired wrong in my brain and I should be committed for thinking a vampire is gonna come up to me one day and say “Hey, where have you been? We’ve been searching for you”. Those aren’t “normal” thoughts. It’s scary and confusing and weird all in one. It can be very hard to explain to someone, so I hope I did an okay job expressing myself today. And please remember that I am writing based on my own experiences/symptoms.

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