Following on from my article on Dissociation, Protective as a child, Dangerous as an Adult I thought it would be great to read of another survivors ‘dissociation experience. Matt writes so eloquently of A Day In The Life Of Someone Who Dissociates. He captures the experience brilliantly. Thanks for sharing Matt. It is always wonderful to have you as a Guest Blogger. He writes and podcasts extensively at survivingmypast.net on the topic of Dissociation.
I got inspired to write a bit more about this topic after a recent guest blog post over on EndTheStigma.ie. Again, thank you so much, Aidan, for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important Mental Health condition and about how I Dissociate.
Dissociation is a daily part of my life. I do it countless times a day both knowingly and unknowingly. I say that because while I realize that I do Dissociate quite often, I don’t always realize just how much I do it and in what circumstances it occurs.
Here’s how a typical recent day went for me.
Got up this morning, got my shower and I can remember zoning out just standing there for a good 10 minutes. Thinking of nothing, in particular, just standing there spacing out into nowhere. This, of course, got me running a bit late getting out of the house to leave for work. I’m not a morning person at all; I’m very slow and methodical until I get my brain in gear. You’ll never catch me up at 5:30 am pulling a Rocky Balboa, drinking raw eggs before an epic workout while it’ still dark outside.
I went downstairs about 7:15 and turned on the TV like usual to listen to the news while I made my lunch for work and fed the fish. I began making my sandwich and then tried to decide which chips to put in a bag. I stood there for 5 more minutes staring into the cabinet, not even thinking about chips, just staring.
I snapped back to reality and realized I better get it in gear so I halfheartedly listened to the news and weather, fed the fish, double checked the lights and thermostat and walked out the door. Of course, being OCD, I had to make sure the TV was off, even after I turned it off. Then I had checked the thermostat twice, and check that I locked the door, twice. This whole OCD thing, that’s a whole other topic.
Anyways, I get in the car, it’s about 7:35am and I’m letting it warm up for a minute (because this blasted PA weather has snow coming today and its April!). I’m sitting there checking my phone in the car, reading my Twitter timeline and just like that I zone out to nowhere again for a few minutes. Was I thinking about anything in particular? Nope just sitting there staring at my phone and not even realizing the screen had turned off.
Again, snapped back to reality and fortunately made it to work in time, but not before I zone out yet again while dissociation-quote–300×200 A day in the life of someone who Dissociates.driving. I swear I don’t know how I do that so often and not end up getting into a wreck! Often times I can’t recall the last few minutes of a drive when I come back out of a dissociative state.
I get to work and start setting up my laptop for the day and go for coffee. While I’m waiting for the machine to fill my mug with the nectar from the gods, I actually catch myself gazing at a company logo on the wall for a minute.
Back to my desk and start answering emails, checking on how the night shift went, what’s going to possibly need my attention today besides my usual projects. Which by the way causes a lot of anxiety too.
As the morning goes on I catch myself staring at my email for a few minutes, with a blank star. Not actually typing anything, just looking at the monitors. Then the phone rings and back to reality I come. I start a conversation and my mind begins to wander after a few minutes. I have to concentrate to stay on task and stay focused or I’ll completely lose track of what the other person is saying to me.
Lunch time and I’m in the break room reading my Kindle, halfheartedly also listening to the various conversations of others. So essentially I’m not getting anywhere in my book because my mind is trying to do too many things at once. I suck at multi-tasking, I’m just not good at it. So if I don’t focus on one thing, whether it’s business or pleasure, I’m screwed. I think I actually got through one page in the chapter I was reading.
Then a problem arose that needed my attention and it ended up being a 4 1/2-hour long conference call, which included 8 other people trying to fix the problem. So for the entire afternoon I was on the phone, and guess what happened multiple times? Yep, random zoning out, staring into space, looking at my screen, or the ceiling, or whatever as my mind wandered into nothingness. I know I did this at least a half dozen times that I can recall right now.
Work is over now, and I go to pick up my son and then meet my daughter for dinner. Sitting there in the restaurant looking at the menu, I caught myself just looking at the same page for about a minute and not really doing anything but just, looking.
Therapy time, thankfully I don’t usually Dissociate there. We are so actively involved in discussions that I can usually stay focused and fully present.
I get home though and my son was playing his video games. I say Hi to the cats, my fish, and my turtle (Flash) and sit down on the couch. Within a minute I was blankly staring at the fish tank and literally thinking of nothing.
That brings me to wrap up this post, as I decided once I snapped back to reality from looking at the aquarium, that I wanted to write about how Dissociation affects my life on a daily basis.
Dissociating was a blessing in that my mind saved me during the abuse when I was a kid, but it’s also a royal pain when you have to work so hard to concentrate on even the smallest of tasks.
No wonder I often tweet out #BrainIsTired.