My Long History with Disassociation

I used to think dissociation was an odd type of mental health issue that paired with dissociative identity disorder, DID. After intense periods of reflection and therapy, I realize that I dissociated for nine months last year. And I do it naturally without even thinking about it. This is why I have a very high pain tolerance. I can literally shut it all down if it’s too much: pain, feelings in general, anxiety, and feeling utterly unsafe.

This coping/defense mechanism has rushed to my assistance without me giving it a second thought since I was a young child. I can tell you that it is very, very useful in insulating myself from harm. I’m also realizing that it is DETRIMENTAL to being present or attuned to my body and her needs.

My mother often asked why I waited so long to seek treatment, but now I’m finally beginning to understand that the pain crept up on me in the depths of the night. Because I just tuned it out, I didn’t realize how bad it was becoming. Or that my body was telling me something was seriously wrong. (Side note: I DID seek treatment, three times, and was dismissed. When doctors dismiss your pain, it’s easy to dismiss your own pain. If they don’t think it’s serious, why am I worrying so much?) And I’m finally in a place where I can forgive myself for not advocating for myself for a whole year before I realized my life depended on it. So much more went into it than me just dealing with it. I mean, I did, but there are so many factors that caused me to disregard my own pain and intuition for that long.

Now that I’m past the seasons where I was fighting for my damn life, I’m starting to understand how to be present. Like, fully present, checking in with every inch of my body (not physically). I asked my therapist how to reconcile writhing physical pain and awful emotions while also still being present. Her answer is SO obvious to me now. Acknowledge the feeling, sit with it, process it, let it go. WHAT?! How could a trained therapist like me absolutely miss that?

Because I’ve never really done it before. I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a while now, but I have only been doing half the work: becoming present until something bad comes along, and then I’m fucking OUT. Instantly. Without thinking. But I’m working on it. Constantly!

How do you dissociate in your world, if at all?




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