Dissociation: going to a place that’s sometimes scary, always safe

Two days ago I experienced a distancing between brain and body.

I knew I was dissociating.

What was happening? Why was it happening? How did it feel?

I’ve certainly experienced similar situations before. But why this time?

What had caused it?

  • social / sensory overload; being out and about in different situations
  • I describe this more fully in my blog on Social Overload, but basically I’d had a couple of days where things like noise / unwanted physical contact were overwhelming me

Why was I experiencing it?

  • my brain just needed to let me know that I’d pushed it too far
  • dissociation can play a big part in Borderline Personality Disorder
  • the trauma I experienced in my past have set up my fight or flight response to ‘flight’ by default; this ‘flight’ usually takes the form of complete shutting down of my brain functioning to the extent that it doesn’t relate to my body

How did it feel?

  • extreme tiredness coupled with inability to rest
  • when I touched my body I couldn’t always tell where it was being touched
  • I also couldn’t tell that I was touching myself – I had to concentrate so hard on making physical contact in order to relate that the touching and the feeling of being touched were both coming from me
  • the bottom line is that it can be extremely scary and it takes a lot of reasoning with yourself that it will be alright – eventually
  • feeling vulnerable and weepy; that tends to signal the end

The first few times were pretty scary. I had no idea what was happening, what had caused it, when it would end, if it would end. Now I accept that my brain is just telling me ‘enough is enough’. I breathe into it, trying not to over-analyse, and relaxing my body until it can be at rest.

Important notes

  • there are other terms for this particular experience
  • it doesn’t signal a Borderline Personality Disorder although it can be a significant feature for some individuals
  • I only experience it as part of my BPD and not as part of any other diagnoses so I cannot comment on these
  • I am not an expert – and I’m not posting this as an expert; these are my own, individual experiences

Being creative is the mainstay of my life, and poetry, prose, and photography is where I express my deepest emotions. I also enjoy the challenge of design and create jewellery, fabric bags, and garments and home items in yarn. Diagnosed with ASD at the age of 68 after fifty years in and out of the mental health system, I now aim to explore and share my experiences over these years. Apart from blogs and short articles I'll share my life in my verse and images.

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