Dissociation 

Ah dissociation! If you have a mental illness then I dare say you’re familiar with dissociation. If not then you will have dissociated because everyone does it…a bit. I have a mental illness, or two, or who knows how many – doesn’t matter – and I’m used to dissociation. I find it can be pretty helpful to function in that kind of autopilot whilst my mind goes and hides deep inside me somewhere. In saying that the dissociation I’ve experienced in the last couple of days has been, frankly, frightening. That’s not good.

Yesterday it was like being unreal. I’d look at my hands, specifically my scars, and wonder – who did that? It couldn’t have been me (it was). I’d look at the scars and try and connect with the me that did that but, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I wondered if this spaced-out-me was actually the real me because spaced-out-me couldn’t understand self-harming and that’s got to be good, right? But it wasn’t and I don’t know why. All day I constantly questioned what I had done: did I really do that? Am I awake or dreaming right now? My hands tingled. It was frightening because each moment felt sort of new and unexpected, like I had just arrived in it without knowing how. I went to bed, took some promethazine and fell asleep listening to plinky plonk music (you know the type).

According to my Fitbit my sleep was the usual night long restlessness. No change there. I’m lucky that I do actually sleep but said sleep is not restorative. I suppose it’s a bit like being sucked into a strange video game; my nights are filled with demon fighting activity. As morning came around I was stuck in a dream. I’d wake up but get sucked back into the dream. This happened countless times, at least 10 I’d guess. I didn’t know what was real: the dream or the awake. I couldn’t tell the difference. The dream was distressing but it sort of made sense. My dreamself was seeing, hearing and experiencing things that were not real (in the dream) so it was almost like 3 layers of consciousness (Inception anyone?!). In the dream I would take people to show them something but the thing wouldn’t exist, everything was in my head. At one point I fought a monster. It was small and I used such force on it that I pushed my thumbs into it and made it bleed. I had killed the monster but just for good measure I threw it over a balcony. In the dream people started shouting and I realised it hadn’t been a monster. I immediately feared that it had been a baby. I slowly peered over the balcony expecting to see a horror but it wasn’t a baby that I had harmed – it was a rag doll. In the dream I was relieved but heeded the message: I was a danger. I could lose touch with reality to such an extent I was dangerous. Another thing that stuck out to me was that in the dream I tried taking selfies on my phone. This was to help me gauge reality. However each selfie of me showed me as black (I’m white). My features were totally different. To be fair the black-selfie-me was much prettier, more girly, but it wasn’t the face I expected. I was so confused.

Eventually I managed to pull myself into reality and properly wake up. It took monumental effort. Tonight my husband described me as talking to myself and not making sense this morning (this was when I was flitting in and out of the dream). He left for work when I was still in bed. When I finally wandered dazed downstairs it looked as if he had slept on the sofa. My first thought had been – oh no, what did I do?! I was scared, scared that I had done something bad. Fortunately I had not but this is my fear: what if I do something awful in this dissociated state? 

I feel a sense of foreboding – like something bad is going to happen. I have spoken to Nora and she reassured me. She said it was highly unlikely that I would do something harmful and that this is all perfectly…normal…in complex PTSD. She told me that the presentation of my condition was changing and, again, that was normal. 

I’m much better now. I couldn’t have written this in that state I was in. My desire to understand has me trying to decode the messages from my subconscious and I have some bits and pieces that I can stick together. My sodding amygdala. 

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