Welcome back to Guest Blogger Matt Pappas from Surviving My Past .Back in April of 2016 I wrote a post called, “A day in the life of someone who Dissociates“. I wrote it as a way to express what it feels like as a survivor who experienced Dissociation during the abuse that happened, and how it still affects me today.
Dissociation is something that I am extremely passionate about and very interested in, so I can better understand how it affects me and how it affects others.
It’s very common for our minds to “take us away” during traumatic events. This is a safety measure in place to protect us because our brain knows that we are not fully capable of handling the situation as it unfolds in real time.
I remember clearly during the flashbacks, looking down at myself being abused. I can see that little boy being made to perform sexual acts on the teenager up the street and made to endure those acts being performed on him as well.
During those traumatic times, my mind took me away and made it so I was not fully present in the moment. While I was physically there, emotionally I was not.
This form of Dissociation is common among all types of trauma survivors; not soley in abuse survivor cases. Anything traumatic that happens to us; our mind will do everything it can to protect us.
This carries over into adulthood when we can dissociate even when there is no immediate danger present. The affects of the trauma we endured go far beyond the times when the real danger happened.
A bit of information on how this happens within the brain, based on the trauma we experienced.
The amygdala, the part of our brain that is involved in fear and trauma response, triggers the release of cortisol by sending a message to the hypothalamus which then sets in a motion a chain of events ultimately ending up in producing cortisol.* source
When that happens, especially repeatedly with abuse survivors for example, that triggered chemical release can happen even when there is no real danger. Anxiety is increased, we’re stressed, and even though we aren’t in danger our mind thinks we are.
That in turn can then cause to dissociate more severly as adults, both in stressful and non stressful circumstnaces.
I talked about in that first post , about how I zone out while reading, or watching TV. My mind wanders when I’m driving long distances, or sometimes at work. Again this is very common for survivors and non survivors; but in the case of survivors it can be exacerbated; much more often and sometimes more severe.
This is something that happens often times without us even realizing it. Even if we are aware that we dissociate and we know when it normally happens, we can’t always head it off at the pass, so to speak.
Since I wrote that post I have learned a great deal about being mindful (fully present), grounding skills, coping skills, and techniques to work through flashbacks and dissociative episodes.
I wanted to share with you where I am with Dissociation in my daily life, after about 7 months since that first post. I decided to create a video which you can watch by clicking here, to explain further where I am to date, and how much this still affects me.
Or you can listen to the podcast, right here in the post. As always you can also subscribe in iTunes, Spreaker, and aCast too!
In time, with diligent work in understanding our past and being mindful of who we are and where we are, we can better cope with dissociation when it hits and minimize it’s affect on us.
I hope you’ll give it a listen and share it with any who you think might be able to benefit.
Without further delay…3…2…1.