31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 7: Have you ever dissociated? If so, how often?

I want to start off with a little bit of a disclaimer…a warning. Me doing a blog post on Dissociation is a little bit the blind leading the blind. It’s not that I don’t have experience with dissociation. It’s just that I don’t understand it. It’s not something I’ve even touched on yet with my counsellors or my psychiatrist. So really, I have no idea what brings it on, or “triggers” it. But I definitely experience it, I know what it’s like, I just have no idea as to the why. I guess that will have to be a follow up post.

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Have you ever had that feeling, where you’re in control of what you’re doing, but it almost seems like you’re not really there? It lasts a few seconds, then you snap out of it, and it feels almost like you were dreaming? Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. But that’s how my dissociation is. The only thing is, it lasts way longer than a few seconds, and I don’t just ’snap’ out of it. This happens most frequently, or I might even say exclusively when I’m on my own. When I’m working on my own is the killer… all I have is me and my thoughts. It starts out just getting foggy, or groggy. That ’slow-motion’ feeling, like you’re dreaming what you’re doing. But then it takes that next step. My dissociating almost always takes me to events in my past, usually painful events, or events that caused hurt in someone else’s life. It’s like in my mind I go back to that event, and relive it in excruciating detail. It’s torture at times. About six years ago we lost our son, Dayton. My most frequent dissociation by far takes me there. Back to the hospital. The sounds, the smells, and the sights. Going back over the impossible decisions my wife and I found ourselves in the position of having to make. The gut-wrenching reality that we were hopeless. There was literally nothing that could be done but to sit and wait for our son to die. I have many, many fond memories from the hospital too, but those aren’t the ones that I return to. All it allows me to relive are the agonizing moments. Those memories I’ve spent 5 years trying to forget. But like I mentioned before, the worst part is I don’t just snap out of it after a few seconds. I’m stuck there. There’s been days at work when it’s bad that after finally coming back, I’ll realize that literal hours have gone by.

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And that’s not even the worst part. What really sucks, is there’s no coping methods for dissociation, at least none that I know of. Anxiety I can do “mindfulness” exercises, drown it out with music, or if nothing else, cut myself to make it stop. Depression I usually sit in. I feel it’s earned, or deserved. It’s lonely, but it can be comfortable. But dissociation… I’m completely at the mercy of my mind. Distraction brings me back, but if I’m on my own, there’s usually not distraction. I don’t feel it coming on, so it really just happens. It’s like a dream that you want to wake yourself up from…but you can’t. It’s disturbing, it’s frustrating, and for me…it just is. I’m on meds that help me sleep better now, but before I’d dissociate at night too. I’ll wake up and be wide awake, and before I know it, I’m gone. Still awake, but gone.

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I’m reading back over this and starting to feel like I’m making myself out to be a real ‘nut-job’. It’s one of those things that I don’t like to think about, and definitely don’t want to talk about. That’s where I love the concept of blogging. I truly do find it therapeutic. I can write things out, see the words, and then things sort of start making sense in a new way. I have lots of friends and family that simply don’t understand “me”. What makes me tick. What’s broken in me. I’ve said this many times, but my ‘hope’ for this blog is that it will be a support and an encouragement to those that suffer mental illness, and that it will be somewhat a “window of understanding” for those that have to live with us, and not understanding. Please comment, I love feedback. Please share, especially if you know someone on either side of mental illness that might benefit from what I have to say. And please follow. It means the world to me that people are wanting to share this “journey” of BPD and NPD with me. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!

Dave

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4 thoughts on “31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 7: Have you ever dissociated? If so, how often?

  1. Hi, thanks for your post. I have BPD and recently found out that I too have experienced dissociation for many years, long before I was diagnosed; only now can I put a name to it and I know that “foggy, groggy” feeling you describe very well. I thought I’d share some tips that have been passed on to me via online sources like a Facebook DBT group I belong to. Please note these are tips from peers, not from a trained therapist. One strategy involves me saying out loud my name, the date, where I am etc. to ground myself in the moment when I “zone out” and feel lost. Another is sense mindfulness; grounding myself by naming what I can see, touch, hear, taste and smell in the moment. My favourite tip is to splash my face with very cold water to shock myself out of the fuzzy, sort of formless yuckiness that comes with my experience of dissociation. These are temporary on-the-spot measures that help me snap back into the present: they don’t address the underlying causes of why I dissociate but they do provide relief in the short term. Let me know if you try any of them out and if they help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the reply. I have tried the senses one. My counsellor does it 5-4-3-2-1:5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste. The biggest downside is when I can’t get all the things, it sets off my anxiety. I haven’t done the water in the face, but living in Saskatchewan in the winter I have just gone outside. It’s a -30C windchill today.

      Like

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