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How do I keep myself from dissociating


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My groceries were delivered to the wrong building and apartment yesterday.  The woman who came to my front door said my grocery delivery was sent to her address, so I grabbed my cart and followed her over to her apartment.  I noticed there was something off about her and it got worse when I entered her apartment. 

She had put all my groceries away in her kitchen, where she thought was the right place (in her mind).  She put my ice cream in the cabinet, and you can guess the rest.  Each of the 22 items she put away in different places all over her home.  She would not give up the candy, I had to walk away from that.

Clearly this woman had dementia and there I was in her apartment, alone.  And as I stood in her kitchen getting my groceries back, I could not reach my executive powers and realized I was dissociated and could not defend myself.  In reality, I should never have gone into her home. I should have just walked away, gone home and called the grocery delivery service.

This woman signed my name on the form as instructed by the delivery person and now we are worried how much of a tip she gave him on my credit card.

I knew walking over there I felt extremely anxious, going into a strangers apartment who was acting oddly right from the start, so the anxiety drove the dissociation and anything could have happened to me, alone with a demented neighbor, I should have known better.

Two days ago, another neighbor stopped by to visit my new kitten. I should never have let her in, but there I went again, immediately into dissociation. This woman has been threatening to me in the past and yet I let her in my home and as I was sitting there looking at her, I sensed she should not be there and yet felt powerless over the situation so sat there and let the visit play itself out.  Then this woman started taking pictures of my kitten without asking permission and I should have have stopped her, but I was totally powerless. 

I feel that I just cannot function in the real world and protect myself.  Dissociation is protecting myself, but it's leaving me very vulnerable and the consequences are that I am left with feeling very bad about myself. 

 

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I'm sure others will have better ideas, but for me it's less about completely preventing it (I think that'll take a lot of therapy still) and more about getting out of it when it happened.  I tend to rely on sensory-based grounding activities.  The easiest to remember is the 3-3-3.  3 things you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell (or taster or touch, depending on what senses work better for you).  Then you do two of each and then you do one of each.  I've found that it usually manages to pull me out. 

There are situations where I just have to push through it.  My supervisor was triggering mad-scale depersonalization and I couldn't take the time during the meeting to get out of it--plus she'd retrigger me right back into it even if I did.  So I basically tried to focus on things that wouldn't make it worse--not having eye-contact, stressing how the chair felt underneath me, holding onto something in my hands.

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56 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

I'm sure others will have better ideas, but for me it's less about completely preventing it (I think that'll take a lot of therapy still) and more about getting out of it when it happened.  I tend to rely on sensory-based grounding activities.  The easiest to remember is the 3-3-3.  3 things you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell (or taster or touch, depending on what senses work better for you).  Then you do two of each and then you do one of each.  I've found that it usually manages to pull me out. 

There are situations where I just have to push through it.  My supervisor was triggering mad-scale depersonalization and I couldn't take the time during the meeting to get out of it--plus she'd retrigger me right back into it even if I did.  So I basically tried to focus on things that wouldn't make it worse--not having eye-contact, stressing how the chair felt underneath me, holding onto something in my hands.

Thank you Dances *appreciation smiles*.  Dissociation is a tough one, especially when one has had it all their life and it's a coping mechanism, albeit it a maladaptive coping mechanism.  When I realize I am in dissociation (observing myself from afar), it's soo difficult to do the grounding techniques since my executive powers have disappeared, until I feel I am in a safe place. I have not been practicing this lately, but will start today, throughout the day and will start a journal following dates, times, etc. I think holding onto something familiar in my pocket will be a good start.  My last therapist resented my suggesting how to do this and one reason I did not go back to her.  She did not go thru the entire drill, just had me look at colors and then stopped, never incorporated breathing.  Perhaps going back to Marsha Linehan's DVD's and starting over again might help.

I also need to recognize dangerous places or places that will trigger dissociation and not travel to those places or be around those people.  The Seroquel renders me too sedated and I loose the executive powers while I take this drug. 

One thing, while on these strong medications that render me vulnerable by the awful side effects, also causes dissociation. 

 

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I am curious, if i might ask, where does one's mind go when you dissociate? Does it go to a particularly triggering or traumatic event or do you just "space out"?  I feel like there are times I dissociate - but mainly for me, this means I am not necessarily triggered - my mind is just in another world , like not in the "here and now" Is that dissociation?  Is daydreaming and not being attentive to the situation (or your surroundings) dissociation?

Can it be when you just "space out" and look away into the distance during conversation? Sometimes I do that, I zone out and I'm not thinking of anything in particular. Maybe it's your mind's way of coping with either difficult or negative feelings/thoughts or sensations?

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BlahBlah those are types of normal dissociation, daydreaming, highway hypnosis (not remembering the drive).

I "space out" staring into space. I don't notice it but my husband will tell me.

When I am anxious and/or in big groups I tune out, but I don't realize it until it is over and I am startled that everything is real. I say to myslef my name and where i am  and feel the table or chair. That helps bring me back. I don't think it lasts a long time.

Sometimes, i watch myself doing things. I know how I look from the outside. I have floated up to the ceiling.

The better I am able to keep my anxiety under control, the less it is.

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On 10/2/2018 at 9:09 AM, Dewey said:

My groceries were delivered to the wrong building and apartment yesterday.  The woman who came to my front door said my grocery delivery was sent to her address, so I grabbed my cart and followed her over to her apartment.  I noticed there was something off about her and it got worse when I entered her apartment. 

She had put all my groceries away in her kitchen, where she thought was the right place (in her mind).  She put my ice cream in the cabinet, and you can guess the rest.  Each of the 22 items she put away in different places all over her home.  She would not give up the candy, I had to walk away from that.

Clearly this woman had dementia and there I was in her apartment, alone.  And as I stood in her kitchen getting my groceries back, I could not reach my executive powers and realized I was dissociated and could not defend myself.  In reality, I should never have gone into her home. I should have just walked away, gone home and called the grocery delivery service.

This woman signed my name on the form as instructed by the delivery person and now we are worried how much of a tip she gave him on my credit card.

I knew walking over there I felt extremely anxious, going into a strangers apartment who was acting oddly right from the start, so the anxiety drove the dissociation and anything could have happened to me, alone with a demented neighbor, I should have known better.

Two days ago, another neighbor stopped by to visit my new kitten. I should never have let her in, but there I went again, immediately into dissociation. This woman has been threatening to me in the past and yet I let her in my home and as I was sitting there looking at her, I sensed she should not be there and yet felt powerless over the situation so sat there and let the visit play itself out.  Then this woman started taking pictures of my kitten without asking permission and I should have have stopped her, but I was totally powerless. 

I feel that I just cannot function in the real world and protect myself.  Dissociation is protecting myself, but it's leaving me very vulnerable and the consequences are that I am left with feeling very bad about myself. 

 

What the others said is probably a better idea than what I do lmao. I dissociate in a bit of a different way. For me it usually happens in group settings where there's a lot of moving parts, or whenever somebody new enters into my life, especially at my home. I tend to have a flat affect by default and just kind of go on autopilot. Nodding my head in agreement while I discretely pick out all of the weapons and develop a secret plan to kill everyone in the room should they suddenly become a threat to me or my loved ones. I don't usually hear what they're saying to me; I'm just anxiously waiting for them to make a move towards me. Sometimes I feel like I might reflexively rip their heads off if they put their hands in their pockets. Hate not being able to see people's hands; sometimes I let them know that, but not usually because I'm afraid it might sound weird. If they're super sketchy to me though then I have no problem telling them to keep their hands in sight. Especially in my own home. That's like, my ultimate safe place and I'm a little over-protective of it, and dislike new people coming inside unless I have about a week's notice in advance. 

I've gotten used to the mail man though...we didn't have mail men back where I lived in Alaska lol. ....Sometimes still wonder if he's really a mail man; a mail man would be a perfect disguise for a psychopath or hired spies, (ya never know!) XD 

But yeah...that's my "advice": HOPE for the best...but always have a plan to kill everyone just in case. ;) ....Like I said; the others' advice was probably better. XD

--204

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On 10/2/2018 at 2:13 PM, Blahblah said:

I am curious, if i might ask, where does one's mind go when you dissociate? Does it go to a particularly triggering or traumatic event or do you just "space out"?  I feel like there are times I dissociate - but mainly for me, this means I am not necessarily triggered - my mind is just in another world , like not in the "here and now" Is that dissociation?  Is daydreaming and not being attentive to the situation (or your surroundings) dissociation?

Can it be when you just "space out" and look away into the distance during conversation? Sometimes I do that, I zone out and I'm not thinking of anything in particular. Maybe it's your mind's way of coping with either difficult or negative feelings/thoughts or sensations?

I think Blah ~  it comes in different forms. In the case of being in this woman's apartment, I watched what was happening, but unable to think clearly to get myself out of there should she take action against me, I would not be able to defend myself.  When the woman came into my home (one of the "axis of fear" women), I just sat there and was able to think to myself that she should not be in my home but was powerless to tell her to leave.  Other times I will blank out completely and not remember anything at all and when I come out of it, I see at first blackness and then finally the scene comes into view and I realize I had dissociated.  Then there is the time where great gaps of time are missing in my day or even days are missing.   I would say that I dissociate daily in some form or another, especially when there are alot of activities going on around me that I cannot control or lots of people talking at one time will trigger me. Jut leaving my home will trigger me to take my trash just 10 steps from my home, or noises outside my door are instantly threatening. Weather is another trigger or when I get that loud warning from my iphone app that something dangerous is occurring or will occur.  There really is no safe place in my world, even when I try to create it.  Yes, I agree with you Blah, you identify it very well.  I'm sorry you know this experience. 

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Forgive me for interjecting here, as I do not suffer from this and have no relevant understanding of dissociation. My question may be irrelevant, and if so, I apologize in advance.

Dewey, you say that you feel that while dissociating you would not be able to think clearly enough to either escape or defend yourself. That is, you would be able to neither flee nor fight. Yet neither of those is a cognitive response - they are innate human instincts. Fight, Flight, (and in certain circumstances) Freeze. One thing that I wonder is whether you may have an overactive instinct to Freeze, bolstered by your dissociation, which makes your dissociation more difficult to manage in threatening circumstances.

Have you ever done a thought experiment in which you imagined that a person actually did lay their hand on you? Or knock you over? I wonder whether deeper-seated instincts would behaviorally override your cognitive confusion and cause you to act in self-preserving ways. Have you ever considered taking a basic self-defense course for women? Such a course might give you a measure of confidence on which to ground a cognitive resistance to an episode of dissociation... assuming that the course didn't cause you to dissociate to begin with.

Again, I don't usually venture out of my own dx. Forgive my ignorance, and I hope this question hasn't been inappropriate.

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On 10/2/2018 at 2:13 PM, Blahblah said:

I am curious, if i might ask, where does one's mind go when you dissociate? Does it go to a particularly triggering or traumatic event or do you just "space out"?  I feel like there are times I dissociate - but mainly for me, this means I am not necessarily triggered - my mind is just in another world , like not in the "here and now" Is that dissociation?  Is daydreaming and not being attentive to the situation (or your surroundings) dissociation?

Can it be when you just "space out" and look away into the distance during conversation? Sometimes I do that, I zone out and I'm not thinking of anything in particular. Maybe it's your mind's way of coping with either difficult or negative feelings/thoughts or sensations?

Hi Blah ~  dissociation varies for me, there's a wide spectrum of what I experience during dissociation.  One is a flashback where I am visually in an altered experience completely and not aware of my present surroundings, another one I call a black out where I see myself coming out of dissociation and seeing the color black - like waking up in the morning and missing time, missing time is another flag that I have been dissociating and not realizing it.  Yesterday morning while filling my coffee machine, I will walk away while performing that task and not complete it and come back an hour later wondering why my coffee is not peculating only to find I never finished setting it up.  I used to keep a journal of dissociation (times and dates and where was I when this occurred) to find the triggers.  I gave that up when it went on all day long.  If I go to my neurologist about this, he say's it's absonse seizures, if I go to my psych doc he says it's dissociation. 

Take today.................. just moments ago, I got up from the computer and went to clean out my cats litter box, took off the top and as I was doing that saw his water needs changing, so went to turn on the cold water faucet to let it run, then went to answer the phone, then saw my Meals on Wheels that had just been delivered sitting out on the counter so put that away, then went to the bathroom because I heard water running and seeing the water running reminded me that I was going to change my cats water and also discovered that I did not finish cleaning out the litter.  After I changed the water and  cleaned out the litter, I accidentally put the top on backwards so my cat could not get into the litter. I didn't discover that I did that for several hours, fortunately I keep two litter pans around my home.  Coming back from the bathroom I discovered I never completed putting my coffee pot together. 

Now was I dissociating or just not paying attention?  I go thru the day doing this all day long, finding tasks unfinished. 

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On 10/4/2018 at 2:10 PM, Cerberus said:

Forgive me for interjecting here, as I do not suffer from this and have no relevant understanding of dissociation. My question may be irrelevant, and if so, I apologize in advance.

Dewey, you say that you feel that while dissociating you would not be able to think clearly enough to either escape or defend yourself. That is, you would be able to neither flee nor fight. Yet neither of those is a cognitive response - they are innate human instincts. Fight, Flight, (and in certain circumstances) Freeze. One thing that I wonder is whether you may have an overactive instinct to Freeze, bolstered by your dissociation, which makes your dissociation more difficult to manage in threatening circumstances.

Have you ever done a thought experiment in which you imagined that a person actually did lay their hand on you? Or knock you over? I wonder whether deeper-seated instincts would behaviorally override your cognitive confusion and cause you to act in self-preserving ways. Have you ever considered taking a basic self-defense course for women? Such a course might give you a measure of confidence on which to ground a cognitive resistance to an episode of dissociation... assuming that the course didn't cause you to dissociate to begin with.

Again, I don't usually venture out of my own dx. Forgive my ignorance, and I hope this question hasn't been inappropriate.

Cerberus ~  Your all good and thank you for thinking outside the box for me.  I have copied down your response as it is very a very valid response to take back to my psych doc when I talk to him next. 

I have wanted to take a self-defense course but I have a significant balance issue that would disqualify me, also coming from my background of abuse, that would be to triggering, but it's a great suggestion, thank you !!!  But I like your train of thought, deconditioning my responses.  I would have to find someone or somewhere to go in a supportive environment to help with deconditioning, but am I too old, I'm 67 years old, maybe it's too ingrained to cure?  I'm wondering about all this, very interesting. 

As a child, when the abuse occurred, I know I froze, but I have never challenged the whole response before or had anyone bring this up, you are the first one.  Thank you !!  If I get any positive results, I'll let you know. 

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Today, while at the vets, my dissociation experience was different in that I watched myself talking and interacting but I was not in complete control.  There were somethings I would rather not have said and reactions were a little too dramatic.  It was like a veil that came down over the front of me and I could not reach thru it to communicate effectively.  It was very frustrating. 

Took several bathroom breaks and tried grounding exercises but the minute I stepped back into the vet's exam room, bamb, I was gone again. 

Then my friend who took me, on the way home we stopped off at Wendys for a burger and sat in her car facing the woods that had spectacular colors to the trees and even then in that calm environment eating delicious food, I still dissociated and watched myself talking and saying things I wished I hadn't or wished I could have said more to enhance this new friendship. This is a new neighbor pal I am getting close to and want us to get closer, I don't want to loose her friendship because I dissociated and may say something offending to her.   

I find, one clue, is when I dissociate, I cannot look anyone in the eye and I look down at the floor and my speech is mostly mumbling.  I have watched this TV series called "The Good Doctor" where the main character has this disorder (forgot what it is called), but he cannot look anyone in the face nor make eye contact and as I watch him, I say, that's me.  And yet, there are times I am able to stare someone in the face, look into their eyes and talk very well and stay on point.  I got up to give a short speech where I live in a community meeting.  After the meeting a neighbor congratulated me for staying on topic.  I thought that odd and asked her if she could be more specific and she said that I don't always make sense nor stay present when I talk, I seem to be somewhere else.  So, for now, until I get my anxiety/panic under better control, keeping to myself and out of the public eye for awhile. 

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@Dewey  It sounds like you did all the right things. Exiting, grounding techniques.  I have had times where I observe myself.  I also have trouble with eye contact at time and other times I practically stare.  I was at a meeting last night and I can describe the carpet more than the conversation.  It sounds like you did a good job at the meeting.

My husband will mention that i stare in space and I feel even more insecure and self-conscious. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

de

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18 hours ago, confused said:

@Dewey  It sounds like you did all the right things. Exiting, grounding techniques.  I have had times where I observe myself.  I also have trouble with eye contact at time and other times I practically stare.  I was at a meeting last night and I can describe the carpet more than the conversation.  It sounds like you did a good job at the meeting.

My husband will mention that i stare in space and I feel even more insecure and self-conscious. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

de

Hi "Confused" ~  Thank you for identifying with the eye contact issue.  You are lucky to have a partner who is observant and shares his observations with you, very helpful.  I wonder why we can't look into  someone's face and meet their eyes, what could that resemble to us that dissociate.  The staring, yeup, I do that oftentimes.  My sisters used to comment their favorite phrase "Earth to Debbie".  The staring I believe are real trances and could be, for me, an absence seizure.  My EEG's all point to Epilepsy.

I wish I could sit and observe myself while in a gathering of triggering neighbors, to see how others see me. 

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Within an hour of taking Zyprexa, I feel calm coming over me and that gives me a sense of safety and control.  However, last evening right before game night, one of my neighbors kept talking over the top of me, interrupting what I was trying to say and totally ignored me, so I faced him and told him to his face what I thought about his behaviors and left. He texted me to come back, that he was sorry, but I felt uncomfortable being alone with him after that as I did not have any idea how he would respond while he was alone with me. Next time will only come to game night when I hear others arrive. 

I have not been able to do this before, I usually just dissociate and stay frozen until I come back to the present, but this time I was very present and able to defend myself which is a huge break-thru for me.  So, the Zyprexa is dampening down enough anxiety and raising the veil of dissociation to allow me to be present when I feel threatened so I can defend myself.  New experience for me and it felt good.  I can only control how I feel about that, I am not allowing myself to feel responsible for his feelings, that's his job.  He can work it out, how I responded to him.  I did not raise my voice to him, I just told him matter of fact how I felt about his behaviors.  He offered no apology immediately, he just let me walk out of the room while he kept talking.

 

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