Sunday, 14 November 2010

How does dissociation affect you?

I mentioned in my last post that there are different kinds of dissociation. This got me thinking about ways in which dissociation affects me.

D.I.D can affect memory, both in the short term and long term e.g. I have limited memories of my childhood; also sometimes I find evidence that I have done things I don't remember doing. Some people also seem to have memories that don't belong to them. Sometimes I get disturbing images that flash into my mind but they don't seem to be a memory. At times I may get confused about whether I remember something happening or just dreamed it. This can make every day life quite complicated and I have trouble remembering what I have and haven't done at times. I try to keep extensive lists and records at work of tasks I have done, conversations, requests etc otherwise I get into difficulties.

Dissociation can affect my consciousness; so I might suddenly realise a few hours have gone by without me knowing where they went: this doesn't happen to me much at the moment but if I was very depressed this would be more likely to happen for longer periods of time. Having said that, it may be that time lapses could happen without a person noticing the loss of time, if you know what I mean?

Have you ever been on the bus or driving your car and arrived at your destination without being able to remember a big chunk of the journey? That’s a type of dissociation that happens to most people, but for some this happens more often and in inconvenient situations. Sometimes I may just zone out as if I am in a day dream for a while; I may then realise I haven't heard anything the person I'm with has said and it can appear as though I am not interested but it's actually because I just switched off (or switched away) mentally. Hopefully they don't really notice this because I have learnt to try to hide it well in conversations and social situations but if you find me asking something you already told me, that might be the reason why.

There are other dissociative symptoms which can happen too, such as: sometimes I feel like the world isn't real and I am just watching everything on TV, or sometimes my vision gets blurred or tunnel like: the visual disturbances tend to only happen to me when I'm under some intense stress for instance; during a confrontation.

I may feel disconnected from my body at times and looking in the mirror; I might feel that I'm not the person who is looking back at me. It's hard to explain and understand all of these things.

It’s also possible to dissociate the body sensations, so that something you would expect to be very painful doesn’t hurt at all.

If I am under extreme stress, I can actively 'dissociate'. For me this usually involves my entire body freezing up and me being unable to move. This has only happened to me on rare occasions when I have been challenged by too much so I don't really worry that it'll happen to me in the middle of the supermarket or something.

Sometimes, and this happens quite a lot in my therapy sessions; I just get generally confused; everything goes all a blur. The questions T is asking me stop making sense, I'll feel like my head has a whirlwind inside it and I won't be able to think straight. It's really embarrassing when this happens and something I instinctively try to hide, but I wish I could just be honest with her more often and say what is happening. I always worry that she'll think I'm stupid: I feel stupid when it happens.

Dissociation can have a relationship with the body too. Some people with DID (and probably other disorders) tend to suffer from ailments which don’t seem to have any medical underlying cause. This could be migraines, headaches, IBS or other things. I get bizarre pains in random body parts which arrive without warning and stay for a while and then eventually disappear again. Or sometimes I just get really sick for maybe just an evening and then feel better. I know this is a psychological thing because if I can be distracted e.g. if my husband drags me out to the cinema, it is likely I’ll feel better quite quickly.

Does anyone else share these experiences with me? What weird things happen to you? Do you find dissociation scary?


MultipleMe said...

Yes, I experience a number of different dissociation types - from what I have read, and what I have discussed with the psychologist I see this is normal - that the different dissociative disorders do overlap to some degree (as in you may have DID but experience Depersonalisation).

I occasionally feel that unconnected to my body, particularly during really hard times. I also "dissociate" from my emotions - so I am completely aware and functioning, & while I might have an emotional response to what is happening I wont feel those emotions at the time. This is something I particularly have to work on in my healing. Because I will often remember the memories of my past but not the emotions attached to those emotions - and I cant work through those emotions until I can connect with them - if that make sense?

I think the most frightening for me was when I first was really experiencing the DID full on before I knew what was going on. Way back when it all started I couldn't hear my alts, I wasn't really aware of their existence. So when I first became aware of me losing time I had no idea what was going on. I would be doing one thing and then all of a sudden I would be in a completely different location, different clothes, having no idea how the minutes/hours and occasionally even days had passed in what seemed to me a split second.

Id have people ask me a bout conversations I never remembered having, and on a few occasions ran into people at the shops/school that I didn't know but who obviously knew me. I would find artwork in my sketch pads that I never drew. That was terrifying and there was a constant fear of what I would do in these mysterious losses of time. And there was the fear of telling anyone in case they locked me away in a straight jacket.

I think that is one of the hardest things we have to get past - the stigma of mental health issues. My fear of switching is all but gone, I am more in touch with my alts and can always ask them what is going on or what has happened. The not knowing is what was the scariest part for me. My biggest fear these days is people finding out, switching in public & behaving in a way that people will realise is not "normal". I still get nervous about switching in front of friends who don't know.

And this fear comes from the fear of losing friends, fear of people's judgment. And this fear stems from the stigma that surrounds things like DID - that is what makes me think people will react negatively, and usually the reason why those few close minded people do react so negatively.

Wow this comment has become almost as long as another post!! I hope this answers some of your questions, I hope it helps you feel less alone.

MultipleMe said...

I ended up copying my reply to my blog & adding a little more, with a link back to this post

Candycan said...

I have to say, I have never lost much more than a few hours without kind of coming back to myself for a time. I have never found myself in a foreign place or wearing different clothes and I'm sure that must be very scary. I know this is bad, but sometimes I have wished that would have happened to me even once because it would be more evidence to me that I definitely do have DID, in the times where part of me doubts it.
A lot of my symptoms I have tried to explain away and part of me is pretty sure there could be some other more logical explanation for everything that happens to me such as some kind of physiological memory problem.
Dissociating from my feelings is one part of dissociation I find really useful in order to function. I guess I am learning that you don't ever move on from things if you don't deal with the emotions...and they have a way of coming out elsewhere which is not great either.
Thanks for your comment, it's really great to be in touch with other people like me. I feel quite alone with this sometimes.

Pandora said...

I know this is an older post, but after your kind comment on my blog earlier, I'm presently working my way through your archives :)

I have never been diagnosed with DID, though I did once score very highly on the Multi-Inventory of Dissociation or whatever it's called (see this post).

My diagnoses are BPD, complex PTSD, major depressive disorder and social anxiety with psychotic and dissociative features. Phew! Anyway, my dissociative symptoms have included derealisation, depersonalisation, fugue states, voices (more on that momentarily) and the (usually co-conscious) alter, Aurora, who's about five.

The voices are weird. One that I used to have, Tom, was distinctly outside my head which, as I understand it, is more symptomatic of schizophrenia than anything else. So I think he was psychotic. The other lot, 'They', live inside my head, at the back. There are thousands of them.

It seems a hell of a lot for them all to be alters or other dissociative entities, especially as they all talk at once and they all hate me. The psychiatrist and at least one of the therapists suggested that the represent my perpetrator. If so, they do a damn good job of firing it all back at me, because I couldn't care less about him!

Seroquel mostly shuts them up, thankfully.

But it's interesting to consider whether or not voices, at least in trauma-related diagnoses, are 'properly' psychotic , or whether they are somehow dissociative. I suppose there's no one easy answer to the whole thing.

My memories of my childhood are very fragmented too. I sometimes get flashbacks of ordinary, normal stuff (rather than just the bad things), but I don't see to have any linear recall for a number of years. It's frustrating to say the least.

When 'They' first came, I was terrified - but waking up I'n some random place, alone, with no idea how you got there, is the worst thing I've experienced in many ways. I know you said elsewhere that that hasn't happened to you, but any form of losing time or doubting your memory is horrible to have to deal with :(

Anyway, so much rambling and so little said...I'll go back to just reading for now :)

Take care

Pan x

Candycan said...

I never took the MID test as far as I know. Can it be accessed on the internet do you know? The one used for me was the DES which you may or may not have read that I dont think too highly of. I think there is some kind of structured interview that psychologists do as well.
I've read that some people with DID do hear external voices. I havent experienced this although my sister tells me I used to hear voices telling me to do things when I was very little (freaky!) but who knows what that could have been. For some reason I think it would be much more scary to have voices outside. I have always been used to the internal voices so thats probably why they dont scare me. I just thought everyone is like that.
Good luck reading through my blog! It might help heal your insomnia LOL

Candycan said...

PS Pandora, I left a comment on your post that you linked to here but cant tell if it worked or not.
PPS I have an alter called Pan!

Pandora said...

I know how you feel about the stigma. That is a fear of mine as well. I don't have many people I trust enough to share what I have.

Pandora said...

Oh, I see there is another Pandora. I'm Pandora's Box of Peeps.

Anonymous said...

im here because iv came across this blog and my heart is pounding and my head is full and im trying to stay fixed, im so relieved to find this information that others like myself are talking about as im just so overwhelmed at this moment but also aware my me's are scared of being found out,i hope that this site stays here as the last comment was 2011 and its 2013 and i need to keep coming back to this site for help and reassurance and for help explaining to my phycologist and care workers as its so hard to explain with out feeling as if you are mental :( but im glad you are all here with your comments of help xxx thankyou x ;) :) :)

Anonymous said...

im here because iv came across this blog and my heart is pounding and my head is full and im trying to stay fixed, im so relieved to find this information that others like myself are talking about as im just so overwhelmed at this moment but also aware my me's are scared of being found out,i hope that this site stays here as the last comment was 2011 and its 2013 and i need to keep coming back to this site for help and reassurance and for help explaining to my phycologist and care workers as its so hard to explain with out feeling as if you are mental :( but im glad you are all here with your comments of help xxx thankyou x ;) :) :)

Candycan said...

Hi anonymous. I am still blogging but not as much at the moment as I used to. I'm on twitter if you want to chat. I'm glad my blog is helpful. I've found it helpful writing about my experiences and hearing from others who relate. It's always helpful to get comments saying people know what I mean too.
Take care x