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Thread: Dissociating badly

  1. #1

    Dissociating badly

    Lately I've been having really bad bouts of dissociation, I've rang ambulances in the past because I've been so terrified of the feeling I get. Everytime it happens I convince myself that I am going to die. I don't remember much of what happens when I come out of my dissociated state but people around me explain to me that I shout and that I appear very fearful. Obviously when this happens I am terrified. I will be doing a normal daily task/activity then suddenly I will get waves of dissociation and go "in and out" of the dissociation.

    When I start to dissociate my whole body becomes numb, everything around me becomes unfamiliar and walls look like they're shrinking around me and then all of a sudden I feel like I leave my body and I no longer have no control of what I am doing or saying. I can see what I am doing through my eyes and I can hear myself speaking but I am no longer in control. My initial thought is to get help, whether that is ringing a family member, friend or in some cases 999. Sometimes I manage to post-pone ringing someone if I feel like I am able to calm myself down. After I have calmed down I will remain in the dissociative state for hours or sometimes days or weeks. I feel when I am in this state I loose track of time and memory.

    My doctor suggested I use this forum, I just wanted to know if anyone else experiences this and what coping mechanisms you use. I try breathing techniques and grounding techniques but I am normally panicking too much to concentrate and it is too late to bring myself out of my dissocative state by using the techniques that I know. I would be greatful if anyone would be able to give me some advice or reassure me that I am not alone in how I feel. Thank you.

  2. #2

    Re: Dissociating badly

    I suffer with this and read countless posts on here about it.If its any help,its supposed to be the brains way of saying"ive had enough of this im going into protect mode".Although it is frightening and very distressing it will pass as you become calmer and try to relax.If its any help,i know exactly the feelings you are having and you are not alone.Try and do something that makes you relaxed and it will pass.Keep us posted and good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018

    Re: Dissociating badly

    I am not sure if this is the same as what I have, I get like this at times, and I have been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called multiple personalities, these were created to help me process the trauma I went through as a child and I still have them.
    One day at a time

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Dissociating badly

    I get the exact same feelings - have done for years. Sometimes I go months without experiencing it, sometimes it happens every day, sometimes it lasts a long time. It's horrible and in my opinion one of the most distressing, terrifying symptoms of anxiety. Also very hard to explain to others!
    With time and counselling, and mindfulness practice, I have learned to accept that this is just how my anxiety manifests itself, but it's easier said than done. The worst thing to do is give it all of your attention, and the best thing to do when you feel it coming is to just notice it coming & remind yourself that you've got through every other time it's happened and you will get through this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Re: Dissociating badly

    I've suffered protracted episodes of derealisation since I was 20. It took me three full years to recover from the first episode. Three full years of the most frightening mental experience I've ever had to endure. My psychologist at the time was useless and told me nothing about the condition, meaning I had to wing it myself and probably developed strategies which aren't all that healthy in trying to cope with it. My second episode occurred in 1994 and resulted in a one month voluntary psychiatric hospital admission, which, again, was useless. I saw a doctor for 5 minutes, once a week, which was of no help whatever. My most recent episode started after five years of extreme stress, my having developed an incurable blood cancer in 2014, kidney cancer in 2017 and general practice doctors who didn't know one day of the week from another about anything, never mind my serious illnesses. 6 months ago, they told me I have to start chemotherapy for the leukaemia [the kidney cancer was cured by surgery], which was that final straw which broke the back of the fear and anxiety building up inside, unnoticed, over the years. For me, all of a sudden, the world begins to look as if I were constantly in a crystal clear glass bowl, looking out at a world I KNOW to be real, but which LOOKS strange, distant and 'dream-like'. I get extreme tension in EVERY muscle in my head and neck, which feels like I'm wearing a thick rubber swim cap that's miles too small for me and causes intense pressure sensations in my head. These sensations also cause me to feel as if I'm 'trapped' behind my eyes in some weird and frightening 'limbo' space. I feel constantly on edge, every muscle clenched as if to run away, rigid stomach muscles, rapid shallow breaths by default, visual distortions, doubling of vision, which passes on its own, tachycardia [rapid heartbeat], increased sweating, especially the head, increased forgetfulness, bowel problems, increased frequency of urination, temporary nominal aphasia [inability to remember ordinary words I've known all my life, even though I know to what I'm referring, I just cannot recall the correct word(s)], losing my train of thought completely, mid-conversation, intense fear of impending insanity from which I'll never recover and sensations like being 'bear-hugged' from behind so tightly that every last drop of air is expelled, resulting in my having to gasp for air. Because my mental health deteriorated so rapidly and the fact I was considering suicide at the time, chemotherapy was postponed for six months to allow me to get psychological therapy and regain a sense of perspective about my anxiety, because I'm going to need all my strength and focus to be on getting through the six months of chemo. I was due to start mid October, but since I won't be allowed travel while on chemo [hugely increased risk of infection[s]] I deferred until end November and scheduled a trip to Amsterdam mid November to 'get my head showered' as we say in Belfast. I know these symptoms are absolutely terrifying. I know you're catastrophising, believing you'll never be well again, I know it FEELS like you've gone totally doolally [I always feel the same] but it's important to be kind to yourself. It's NOT your fault you've become ill. This can happen to anyone. You've been stressed for a long time, this stress has been festering and some trigger has pushed you over the edge again. For me, the trigger for my third episode of derealisation was finding out I need to start chemo. I had been trying to think about having cancer as little as possible, as my means of coping and believed I was faring ok. But my stressors were accumulating and here I am again, episode three! My WORST episode was the first. It was also the longest. When it happened again the second time, I knew I'd been there before, so I used that as an anchor to steady me in the miasma of racing, anxious, 'why, what if, when' type questions that race round my brain like a terrified mouse running on a wheel. I become fixated on the physical bodily manifestations of my anxiety and it feels as if it's impossible to be free of thoughts or worry about those symptoms. The only advice I can give to you is that these episodes will eventually pass. The time it took me to get back to normal after episode two was around half that of the first episode and even though I'm not 'home again' yet, I have noticed a significant improvement in only six months, this time out. My head begins to feel more 'normal' as the pressure abates over time. The levels of stress hormones coursing through me [they were tested and were significantly elevated] begin to settle down over time and the feeling of terror in the stomach downgrades to intense fear, to fear and eventually, normality is restored. My 'brain fog' is 'burned off' over time and my thinking seems clearer and less laden with anxiety and negativity. Once the head pressure settles completely, the feelings of anxiety in the stomach abates and my levels of anxiety slip back into the 'green zone', where they do not cause really terrifying perceptual alteration. I try to reassure myself that when I have anxious thoughts about being dissociated that the dissociation is just a disorder of thought which will pass in the fullness of time as anxiety levels diminish. Then somehow, despite myself and my catastrophising about the dissociation being permanent, I find myself well again, with normal levels of anxiety in response to defined triggers which subside as soon as the trigger is addressed or the incident ends. I thought after episode one and three years of slog to get well, that derealisation would never happen again. It did, 14 years later and 25 years after episode two. It seems this is how my brain processes stress and anxiety. I hate what my brain does [dissociates], I fear it more than my impending death and always have and the dissociation and associated symptoms are ALWAYS way more frightening than the stuff that was originally stressing me. The only benefit is that I've now let go of the things that were scaring me and all my principal cause for fear is the dissociation, but, because I know that I've come though this twice before, I accept that I will recover this time too. I know it's extraordinarily hard NOT to pay attention to the symptoms and the fear and terror they cause, but you'll begin to realise for yourself, through time, that some effort at normalising your routines and distracting yourself in a kind and supportive way from fixation on the symptoms is necessary to allow your anxiety levels to reduce, gradually until you feel completely back to normal again. It's not a failure to suffer this. The fact that you're coping day-by-day is testament to your personal strength. You just have to teach yourself how to 'surf the tsunami' of anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations, keeping in mind that dissociation/derealisation is a temporary phenomenon and WILL eventually completely resolve itself, once you accept that a] you're NOT going crazy, even though that's EXACTLY how it feels, b] you are NOT mentally deficient because you're currently unwell and c] that you should be kind to yourself until you recover [and afterwards] rather than blaming yourself for being unwell. If you argue with your inner voice about the why and how and if of being ill, you'll just feel worse. Accept being unwell. I know it seems hugely counter-intuitive not to fixate on the scary symptoms, but gentle persuasion of your inner self to try not to freak out when you experience a symptom has a cumulative effect on your brain processes and will result, over time, in your brain allocating progressively less and less attention to the scary symptoms, which is what triggers your 'fight-or-flight' switch to move slowly and gently back into the 'off' position, when you WILL feel perfectly normal again, whatever normal is for you. I promise. There is NO greater 'Doubting Thomas' than I on these experiences, but I can't argue with the fact that in spite of my believing I was mad as a hatter for life, I got completely better after each episode. Get a shrink with expertise in dissociative disorders with whom you feel comfortable. Don't suffer alone and in silence. Talking this out with someone who has your best interest at heart WILL loosen the grip anxiety currently holds over you [and I]. It takes time to recover, but good things are worth the waiting for. Calmly repeat the daily mantra "I feel awful. I feel crazy. It's ok to feel awful and crazy. This is only a feeling and my thoughts are just thoughts. This is just anxiety. It is NOT dangerous and will NOT kill me and I know that, however long it takes, I WILL RECOVER FULLY" You will. You just wait and see. Anxiety is a CU Next Tuesday, but do your best to reassure yourself it will eventually burn itself out, even despite your ongoing fear of madness and isolation and that you're the only person this has happened to. You aren't. Millions of us share in your suffering and we all find our way out of the maze again. Find a soothing anchor to steady yourself and hold on tight when the waves are high and strong! I hope your road to recovery is a short one. Just remember, you are prone to this now. It may happen again. But you'll know you got through it the first time and you WILL again, if it recurs.

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