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stress cycles triggering dissociation


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when things are stressful (like now, with a stack of books on one side that i've taken notes on that is 1 foot high, and six left on the other, plus a pile of articles, and 20 pages to write, and knowing that in less than a week i will have a mountain of blue books to grade, and my family was just hit by a fire, and i made my husband quit his job because it was at night and i couldn't deal with being alone and i feel like an ass for this, and 3 day migraines, and christmas, and family, and oh shit presents and fuck that means money, and and and...) i check out. i guess there is a better term for this. whether it's the watching myself doing things like it's a movie, or the feeling that i'm under water, or spacing out and forgetting what is happening, or looking in the mirror and not recognizing myself, or finding that i have broken the bathroom mirror and don't remember breaking the fucking thing at all oh yeah, and that painting i tore off the wall and smashed the frame, i remember that, but i don't know if that was on monday morning, tuesday night or thursday night... (sorry for the ramble, i don't have time to make this well thought out)

there is a problem.

i respond to stress by dissociating.

but dissociation scares the shit out of me. i am out of control. (i am a perfectionist and a control freak.) i feel like i am "loosing it." i worry that all the gains i've made in mental health are slipping away. i worry that dissociating means that i am so different from "normal" people that i can't "cut it." i worry that i am completely batshit mad and there is no hope.

and this fear, the fear of dissociation, it makes me dissociate more. because more than stress there is nothing that makes me dissociate more than fear.

so what the fuck do i do?

and don't say stress management because i will smack you. i have lavender candles burning and i meditate and i exercise and i take nice long epsolm salt baths at night and i schedule in breaks. there is only so much managing a person can do.

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I'd say in general this time of year is a big ol ball of stress...add on the fact that you are in graduate school...well I think it is expected to feel overwhelmed.

I don' t have experience with dissociation....however from an objective viewpoint, it appears you are unconsciously trying to protect yourself from being overwhelmed and getting carried away.

Now, I know this sounds trite, and may not even be comforting...but do you think this fear could be a teacher to you?

I KNOW how scary it is to feel out of control. I am right there with you.

But I also know that you subscribe to Buddhism, and you most likely believe that ultimately we don't have control and staying in a state of groundlessness can be one of the best spiritual teachers.

What I'm trying to say with this rambling is....if at all possible, maybe, instead of fearing the fear of losing control, embrace that fear. Sit with that fear.

Cause the more I resist and run and hide from my depression and anxiety, the stronger it kicks in and the more overwhelmed I end up feeling.

Hang in there woman. You are very close to the end of the semester. And keep up with the pampering!

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I wish I knew some great truth to tell you Penny.

I wish I had some awesome advice.

I suppose you could just go all existential on the Christmas presents bit.

"I'm giving you everything by giving you nothing. Relish in it."

Give them something to think about for an entire year.

It really works if you play it up with some Patchouli soaked clothes.

And some rope sandals.

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But I also know that you subscribe to Buddhism, and you most likely believe that ultimately we don't have control and staying in a state of groundlessness can be one of the best spiritual teachers.

i was thinking this as i was typing my post.

problem is that the hardest part of DBT wasn't mindfulness (which seems to be the hardest part for many people), it was radical acceptance. experience it. accept it. acceptance does not mean that you are judging it as good. let it flow through you. i have this in my molskein in the front, i print it out (and other DBT stuff) and put it in every journal (i use them for daily organizing, planning, ranting, notes, etc.)

i think you are right. acceptance is the key out of hell. it's just hard.

(and, sadly, i'm on the quarter system. i fucking hate the quarter system.)

thanks

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  • 2 weeks later...

But I also know that you subscribe to Buddhism, and you most likely believe that ultimately we don't have control and staying in a state of groundlessness can be one of the best spiritual teachers.

i was thinking this as i was typing my post.

problem is that the hardest part of DBT wasn't mindfulness (which seems to be the hardest part for many people), it was radical acceptance. experience it. accept it. acceptance does not mean that you are judging it as good. let it flow through you. i have this in my molskein in the front, i print it out (and other DBT stuff) and put it in every journal (i use them for daily organizing, planning, ranting, notes, etc.)

i think you are right. acceptance is the key out of hell. it's just hard.

(and, sadly, i'm on the quarter system. i fucking hate the quarter system.)

thanks

acceptance

..

find it hard to not start raging inside when i find myself dissociating when i REALLY want to be present.

like in a Very Important discussion with a significant other, or parents or whatever.

sometimes, like when i was teaching, i've worked really hard on letting myself keep going through it, even though i felt unreal and terrified, that somehow a part of me was still functioning to do the job and that i had to trust it..

but in some cases i find it impossible to trust myself -- i've done things that i really didn't want to do when under a lot of stress and then further triggered. things that afterward, or even during, i found it pretty tough to find an inkling of detached observation and acceptance of my behaviour.

it's more like tasmanian devil-like raging inside.

i'm trying.

pj

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stress is a trigger for dissociating for me, too. We've really simplified the holidays, making it for the kids. My husband and I don't exchange gifts. My husband is very helpful and does a lot of the work.

Dissociation used to scare me. Now, I've accepted it as something I do, but I don't have any tips on how to accept it. Having a name for it helped. I'm working on it in therapy. She wants me to remind myself that things are real throughout the day. (I don't think that is working). Touching things helps me stay grounded.

Here is a link on grounding techniques (this is from a DID site)

http://www.m-a-h.net/support/article-grounding.htm

I understand what you are saying that the stress of dissociating can make you dissociate.

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just wondering how you are doing now Penny

I cannot seem to find my way to the Springer thread

so am cruising/surfing

hoping you are fine

and if you found any answers re: the dissa~ fudgeIt cannot spell this a.m. and am very lazy

anyway hope you will share a coping strategy

cause i don't disassociate

i FN crawl in a mental hole

and hide

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