This past year has been the most extensive year of self reflection ever.
And with understanding has come more questions- a lot of them!
Like last week when I processed for the very first time that I in fact, leave my physical body, subconsciously, hundreds of times every day.
Don’t get me wrong.
This isn’t some kind of witch craft or wizardry.
It’s a mental illness called depersonalization disorder.
It’s also the only way I can remember ever functioning…. making it that much more confusing.
How would you react if you realized that you’ve spent over half of your life physically “zoned out” while being somewhere else completely mentally…?
“Whenever my PTSD gets triggered I get like, trapped in another world for awhile. I don’t know what happens there because my memory in that time period gets completely wiped. Nothing really gets done while the time is running.
Sometimes I realize I don’t know what’s going on when I’m literally in the middle of a sentence with someone. It’s super stressful being around anyone really, for that reason.
But most of the time I don’t even realize that I’d left. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and until just recently, I thought that everyone experienced this.
I know that sounds crazy… am I dying?”
My best friend who is studying psychology, responded with this:
“If I’m understanding you right it sounds like dissociation or depersonalization. Which is common for people with PTSD. It sounds terrifying but you are not dying. It is something that many people with PTSD experience.”
Off to the internet I went, in attempt to learn more about this madness, aka my life.
The first thing that stood out to me was “a confusing sense of identity“.
Looking no further than the name of this blog to check that one off the list of qualifying criteria.
As I continued reading, the checks started piling up.
‘Man… I had no clue there was a name for this!’
Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sense of identity.
A child is more able than an adult to step outside of themself and observe trauma as though it’s happening to another person.
Children who learn to dissociate in attempt to endure a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism, even subconsciously, in response to stressful situations throughout life.
The dissociative adult may automatically disconnect in everyday situations, leaving them “spaced out” and unable to protect themselves in the event of real danger.
Dissociative episodes increase in frequency with the severity of trauma and triggers.
Smells, sounds, colors, places…. anything tied to a traumatic memory can send you out from the drivers seat of your body in an instant.
The research I have done on this disorder in the last week has been redundant.
I am so beyond confident that I battle with extreme depersonalization disorder, it’s like they wrote it all about me.
This understanding has come with the bomb of a realization that I am transitioning in and out of my body hundreds of times every single day.
With this knowledge I’ve made a few reflections.
1) I have depersonalization disorder.
2) I’ve been living this way for so long that the transitions are usually unnoticeable.
3) It would be nice if I could just stay inside my body all the time.
4) How do I make this stop?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple.
Like the majority of my mental health madness, this is going to take a crap ton of hard work.
“Stuffing” is my most often used defense mechanism.
It’s a process of trying to trick myself that any undesirable emotion or sensation isn’t really happening.
This is a subconscious behavior that happens like clockwork.
Typically for me, the “stuffed” emotion presents itself as high strung anxiety or irritability.
To “cure” the dissociative episodes I’m going to have to talk to my emotions and actually feel them… no more “stuffing”. 😳
As someone who has “stuffed” every foreign emotion for as long as I can remember, this feels like an overwhelming task to take on.
Dissociation is kind of like having your body and mind living on two different planets.
The first step will be simply increasing my personal awareness.
Mindfulness, sitting with my emotions… YUCK!
I need to practice the repetitive cycle of acknowledging my emotions as they arise and responding that they are valid for feeling that way.
I’d be absolutely lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.
This entire situation is freaking terrifying.
I’ve been functioning emotionally numb for far too long and I need to do this for me.
Once I begin allowing my emotions to be a part of me, my body will start relearning how to function as a whole.
It will be an intense process of triumphs and failures.
And after all, isn’t that what life is all about?
Trying and failing until we reach our goal…?
I’m ready to embrace this life for all that it is, the good and the bad.
For now, this book is still being written.
It’s my journey and I’m ready to start living it.
In a perfect world, this pursuit will end in an alignment of my identity.
Who am I helping by continuing to live this way?
Certainly not myself.
Project accepted. ❤️
Check out my blog Project Identity for more!