Most of the time, it happens before I even notice. Other times, I can feel myself dissolve.
My body feels tingly. A fog comes over my brain. My vision gets blurry. I feel tired.
Everything around me appears bigger. I get smaller and smaller. I shrink down.
I lose feeling in my face and limbs. Then my awareness simply stops. Similar to daydreaming or getting lost in a book or movie. However, I feel like an outsider watching my own story unfold.
This can last for days, weeks, and sometimes even more than a month.
You wouldn't know by looking at me that I experience dissociative episodes in response to overwhelming situations or emotions.
It's hard to share this but it's harder to think about this being my current reality. So I'm breaking my silence.
Unfortunately, when you have gone through a myriad of traumatic events, dissociation provides a wide variety of things to act as reminders.
Such as smells, sounds, certain words or conversations, news stories, pictures, scenes in movies, or cumulative stress built up over time.
As a child, I was prone to anxiety. But it wasn't until I was sexually harassed by an instructor in high school that the onset of dissociation was immediate.
Although, this coping mechanism shielded me from emotionally and physically painful events, it has been a debilitating factor in my life.
That is why it is important that I identify what my "triggers" are. So I can work on being exposed to them without, for a lack of better words, freaking out.
Since it is easy to become obsessive about my symptoms, I make sure to practice self-soothing activities, positive self-talk, and grounding exercises.
I'm not sure if I'll ever stop dissociating. But I like to think it's possible.
A turning point in feeling better was having a diagnosis. I fight everyday to work through my anxieties, my overwhelming emotions, and to keep myself present.
If I can do something to such as sharing my own experiences to bring awareness of this disorder, here it is.
For those of you who think or do suffer from dissociation, I want you to know that you are not alone. Your feelings and experiences are valid. But most of all there is help to grow stronger and healthier coping skills than just mere dissociation.
Author's Note: It's important to note that you can have dissociative experiences even if you don't have a diagnosed dissociation disorder.There are a number of dissociative disorders. Many people with dissociative disorders may have other mental health disorders as well.