I’ve just uploaded a Youtube video called “#BordyTalk Anxiety & Dissociation” (geddit ;)) and I promised I would write an additional blog to accompany it and cover the points I missed out in my video, as sometimes I forget to mention some key points. Its actually quite hard to explain what dissociation is, as its not widely known, its certainly a term I’ve only just learnt. But I’ll try my best to explain it anyway…
Imagine you’re just doing your everyday job, the very repetitive, self explanatory job you’ve probably done 1000 times over, then all of a sudden you look around you and the room you spend half your life in becomes unrecognisable, you become increasingly conscious of the way people are acting, scuttling around this unrecognisable room trying to find an outfit to wear for Saturday, their voices seem to get louder, the beep of the till also increases in volume to the point it feels like your ear drums will burst. You scan the room looking for answers, why am I in here? why are THEY in here? What am I doing here? What was I doing? Who am I? What am I? You peer down at your hands, are they your hands? You look in the mirror and touch your face, okay so the pair of hands are linked somehow, this face? Who is this person? It takes a couple of minutes but eventually the answers start to find you, you are you, you are working with your colleagues and the others are your customers, you are unpacking stock to be put out in your shop, but the last 15 minutes of your life have been erased, that thought alone turns your palms sweaty, your mouth and throat turn so dry your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth, your stomach churns and your head feels like its spinning, you cant catch your breath and your once dormant brain is suddenly extremely, extremely active
There isn’t a full stop in the above paragraph. Just like there isn’t a full stop during a dissociation/anxiety attack. Dissociation is described as being a disconnect from reality, you become disconnected from the real world and yourself. This is the mental health charity, Mind describes dissociation;
‘Dissociation is a normal defence mechanism that helps us cope during trauma. But it can become a dissociative disorder if your environment is no longer traumatic but you still act as if it is. And if the dissociation you needed to protect yourself means you haven’t been able to process past traumatic experiences.’
People with Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder may experience dissociation as a symptom, however if it becomes more prevalent in their everyday life, it may point towards a separate dissociative disorder, I have started to experience it a lot more recently so I am going back to my GP for guidance (luckily my GP is amazing!) Dissociation isn’t a very common mental health trait, and it indicates that there is significant stress or trauma in someone’s life. Dissociation is like watching yourself in a TV series, you don’t feel like you are you. The only real way to deal with a dissociation episode I have found is to ground yourself, try and find 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, 5 things you can feel, 5 things you can smell and 5 things you can taste, stand outside and feel the wind in your hair, feel the steam of a hot drink against your face, run your hands under cold water and slowing down your breathing. I find that documenting my dissociation episodes is also allowing me to identify the triggers, unfortunately for me its not easy to avoid my triggers as they are everyday occurrences.
My anxiety is feeding off of my dissociation episodes, I’m living with a constant heaviness in my stomach.
Mind describes anxiety as;
‘Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something. Although we usually find it unpleasant, anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response – our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened.’
Worrying about things seems to be a part of my everyday life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing my best, but yet my best never feels good enough, I don’t feel like making the effort for most things as there never seems to be a final outcome, I have tried for weeks to arrange plans with friends but nothing ever materialises, I feel that if my mental health problems didn’t exist, my friends would be more inclined to spend time with me, in fact I am so certain I don’t feel it, I just KNOW. I experience dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations and nausea every time I leave my house, I want to be an outgoing person but at the same time I feel forcing myself out the house is not worth experiencing the unpleasant symptoms for, if I were to go out and spend time with friends, I would suffer through anything as it would be worth it. I’m struggling to sleep at night. Panic attacks are awful, they are so scary and seem to last forever, the silver lining being that the adrenaline soon runs out. They make you feel like you are dying, they totally wipe you out and throw you off sync, the build up to the attacks are the worst, you refuse to go out through fear of embarrassing yourself in public.
Here is my latest video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y92GkCZcaGs
Abbie Autopsy xo