Dissociation

Really Real Mental Health Post

Most of my experiences with mental illness are just part of me.  I know they don’t fall within the realm of typical, but they don’t feel particularly abnormal or make me feel all that strange.  But occasionally, the racing thoughts get too out of control, or my speech is too sped up, or the suicidal thoughts are too strong and it makes me feel crazy.  It’s those things that truly makes me feel like I’m sick.

There’s another thing that happens that I don’t talk about, and until yesterday I wasn’t really sure what it was because I hadn’t pinpointed it enough to get a name for it, although I’ve suspected for awhile.

It doesn’t happen often, sometimes it doesn’t happen for a year, and sometimes it happens a few times in a week.  I remember the first time it happened, when I was in middle school, and I remember a few other significant times, like when I was driving and had to pull over because it became dangerous, or when I was in a job interview and had to act like nothing was wrong.

My depth perception will shift and suddenly everything looks a million miles away, even things within my reach, my hands will feel and look too big for my body, sometimes there’s a funny taste that goes along with it, and this strange mouth feel that is almost like biting on plastic, everyone including me sounds like they are talking in a tunnel and speech feels slowed down even though it doesn’t sound that way.

I’ve never really told a lot of people about it, except those that might be able to give me a name for it.  I would talk to people in my mental health circles because they understood.  Other people typically give me a strange look and think I’ve kind of lost my mind (I have, I’m certified crazy, thank you).

And it finally happened while i was sitting in my therapists office a few weeks ago, and I could explain it to her while it was happening.  And we were able to pin down the timing and the trigger for that time.  And she told me to explain it to the psych doctor, which I’ve done.

Yesterday I found out it’s called dissociation and it’s basically a detachment from reality due to a trigger of some sort.  My psych doc says it’s a way of questioning what’s even real, although I’m not sure I fully understand that yet.

It happens so infrequently that it’s hard to really work with.  When it happens I try to find something to ground myself to, which is instinctual, and is apparently exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  Less important, but still something to look at, is figuring out what I’m thinking or talking about before it happens, so that maybe we can figure out the triggers.

I kept quiet about this for 25 years because I knew people would think this was nuts.  I’m writing about it because I’m glad to finally know it has a name and because I’m hoping if someone else has something that seems weird, they don’t wait 25 years to talk to their doctors about it and get a name for it.

Even though the label isn’t going to change anything, it makes me feel a little better to know it’s not just me that this happens to.

I’m not alone.

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