Dissociation - a blessing or a curse
Posted by scratchingthesurface
11th Jun 2016

To dissociate. The separation of normally related mental processes, resulting in one group functioning independently from the rest. Is this survival mechanism you learned as a child coming back to haunt you. Or is it allowing you to function within “normal” society.

For many masters of dissociation, I would imagine, that they, like me, are incredibly reluctant to give up this powerful skill. Reluctant to recognize it as a danger. Most importantly, reluctant to deal with the ramifications of staying in the present moment.

Up until a few months ago dissociation was my closest friend and most trusted advisor. It took me away to a place where I was cocooned and protected from those scary entities called emotion. Dissociation rolled me into a blanket like a burrito and kept me there safe from harm. I definitely considered it a blessing much rather than a curse.


I woke up one morning in the Priory, I was aware I had a stressful day of one to ones with both my therapist and my psychiatrist. The options get so deregulated I would have a panic attack and actually feel the anxiety OR I could dissociate and float out of myself away into a fuzzy ignorant bliss. You can guess what I chose.

An hour or so later I, what can only be described as waking up or coming to, woke up again. What greeted me was a smashed light bulb and blood running down my arms.

Needless to say that scared me. No one up till that point had realized quite how high functioning my dissociative phases were. Nor how much time of my life I spent dissociating. I suffer from pretty much all of the symptoms at the bottom of this post.

I can only describe my experiences as stepping outside of myself. Of watching myself like a tv show go through life but I am not quite there. Of walking around feeling fuzzy and like the world is not real. Of knowing answers to questions I have no knowledge of ever reading about or listening to (this is amazing for quiz games and trivial pursuits!). Of being able to not feel pain when I know it is happening. Of listening to my different dissociative selves argue about what is and what isn’t real. Of being totally and completely convinced dreams I have had have really happened.

Through the help of my therapists and practical mindfulness I am learning how to ground myself in the present moment and not allow myself to drift away into another self.

Below are the list of symptoms of dissociation from the charity MIND’s website. Please share this post to teach people about this extreme reaction to stress and mental illness that many people are not aware they suffer from.

gaps in your memory
finding yourself in a strange place without knowing how you got there
out-of-body experiences
loss of feeling in parts of your body
distorted views of your body
forgetting important personal information
being unable to recognize your image in a mirror
a sense of detachment from your emotions
the impression of watching a movie of yourself
feelings of being unreal
internal voices and dialogue
feeling detached from the world
forgetting appointments
feeling that a customary environment is unfamiliar
a sense that what is happening is unreal
forgetting a talent or learned skill
a sense that people you know are strangers
a perception of objects changing shape, colour or size
feeling you don’t know who you are
acting like different people, including child-like behaviour
being unsure of the boundaries between yourself and others
feeling like a stranger to yourself
being confused about your sexuality or gender
feeling like there are different people inside you
referring to yourself as ‘we’
being told by others that you have behaved out of character
finding items in your possession that you don’t remember buying or receiving
writing in different handwriting
having knowledge of a subject you don’t recall studying.

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