Creating my map: mental health

This is one of those all over the place posts. My thoughts are messy, and I’m working on sorting them out. I wanted to get some of this down and write about Friday’s therapy session before my mind got too mixed up.

I saw Bea on Friday last week because of Hubby’s work schedule, and I won’t see her until Thursday this week, because of the holiday and school starting. After that, we’ll be back to our regular Monday and Thursday schedule. Thank goodness. I’m not a person who does well without a schedule. I need that in my life. I’ve looked and found some morning yoga classes, too. So hopefully, therapy can get back to normal, Hagrid and I can get back to our walks, and I can get back to yoga. When I have a routine, I get more done. Right now, my house is a wreck. Seriously. It had been better, and then Kat had a two week break from camp. Which meant no routine at all. It’s been rough.

I saw my medical Doctor, Dr.S, and she prescribed me a sleeping pill. I’ve always been against them, mostly because I overdosed on them as a teen. But I need to sleep at night and get up in the mornings to get Kat to school on time. So, I’m willing to try sleeping pills. I’ve been taking them faithfully every night. While they do knock me out sometimes, I’m usually able to fight off the drowsiness and sleepiness they cause. Which has now shown me just how much I fight sleep. I always knew I fight it; that it is hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s how I always remember being. Even my parents will tell you how I never slept as a child; they claim I’m just a person who doesn’t need a lot of sleep. The effect of these pills is strong, though. And yet, I fight it, and 5 out of 7 nights, I win. What does that mean? Nothing good. Maybe I’m just not meant to sleep. Maybe my nightmares have been so bad, that I’m now just afraid of sleep? I don’t know. One thing I do know, is that I’m able to sleep in longer chinks of time than before. Where I used to sleep in small increments, now once I do fall asleep, I manage to sleep for 4 or 5 hours at a time. I should probably talk about this in therapy. I haven’t even mentioned my nightmares or sleeping pills.

On another side note, related to routines, I sometimes wonder if I should just have an eating schedule. I freaking hate meal plans. Hate them. I don’t want another set of rules and lists regarding food in my head. I have enough already. But….I think I’ve messed with eating, starving, binging, barfing so much that I honestly don’t ever feel hungry. I just eat when people usually eat. Which means it is easy to miss meals, not eat, eat junk, stuff my face and bar. It just is this messy cycle. I don’t know. So maybe rules around when I eat, a routine of sorts would be good. Ugh. I think I started thinking about this because on Friday, Bea mentioned that maybe we would talk about the eating stuff more this year. I wanted to throw something at her and scream that it was not happening. That would be the pissy drama filled teenager part. I’m pretty sure she is the part that has the ED. Or controls it. I don’t know. Either way, huge internal reaction.

She also said that she has made a point to help keep me on the surface, but she knows it has been a hard summer. She said she has a list of things she wants to touch on, ask me about when I’m in a place to go below the surface again. She said she is waiting on my cues, and I’ll know when I’m ready. It’s funny that she has this list (I’m thinking it’s in her head because Bea is not super organized. She’s sort of my opposite in this. She admires organization, and wants to be organized, but has said it is something she struggles with. It’s probably a good thing for me, in all truth. The last thing I need is an OCD shrink.). Anyway, it’s funny that she has a list, because I have a list, too. Mine is in a folder on my iPad. It’s taken from journal entries, blog posts, emails I wrote and then deleted, random things I wanted to talk about but then didn’t really want to talk about. I have brought it to therapy with me, open and ready to hand over all summer. But I never hand it over. I just keep adding to it. I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it feels safe enough to write down a few things, a reminder that I need to go deeper on these topics, but I don’t feel safe enough to go very deep.

Bea told me that she hasn’t really asked me how I am, or how I am feeling because she knows that might be too much. I thought about it. When she said it, I told her I didn’t even know the answer. And that’s true, to a point. If I ignore it all, and keep it pushed away, then I have no idea what I am feeling. If I try to feel my feelings, I can’t. They are all over the place, bouncing around. Like crazed ping pong balls of emotions flying at me. It’s too much. I have to duck and run. I’ve been staying as much on the surface as I can this summer. It’s different than the numbing and ignoring and pretending I used to do, though. This time, I’m well aware that there is a mess, and that I’m doing what I have to in order to function until I can sort through the mess. It’s like I’m getting getting through the high stress, would be crisis time because I have support, new healthy coping skills, old- maybe not so healthy- coping skills that I’m not shamed for using, and new ways to care for me and ground myself. This….it’s different than before. Of course, it’s not intense crisis, either. It’s more like a….I don’t know….just stressful time, I guess. Maybe it’s normal people stress mixed with my trauma stress. Either way, I feel a difference in how I’m handling it, even if it doesn’t look that different on the outside.

Last night, I was lying in bed, and I realized something else. Bea is always saying how I’m missing that piece of human connection, of hugs and comfort that hubby can give me. But Hagrid was snuggled up next to my side, and my arm was around him as I was watching a show, and I felt safe. I think I can get that piece of safe touch from Hagrid, for now. With hubby, I either freeze, and deep down I feel frightened and tense (with anyone, really, who hugs me, I feel frozen inside, even though I am very good at just going away so no one would ever notice),although he wouldn’t know it. Sometimes, if I stay more present, I can let a simple hug feel good, but then that hug always turns to something more, and then I go away and end up feeling bad. Dirty and sick. But Hagrid, he really is safe. I don’t have to go away, and nothing happens. I had this realization, and I both hated and was thankful that I have this in my life. I hated it because I don’t want to be so broken I need my dog to help me feel safe with touch. I hated it because it is sad that I can’t hug my own husband without a huge mess happening, one way or the other. I was thankful that I somehow was given this amazing gift of this dog who is able to be this for me. It made me want to tell the person who gave him to me exactly how much Hagrid has meant to me in these few short months.

On Friday, with the holiday coming up, Bea asked what I wanted to do; did I want to try to come in on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or just see her one day next week? I thought through the schedule, and told her I didn’t see it working on Tuesday, being the first day of school, and it seemed silly to come Wednesday when I had an appointment on Thursday. I told her I would just come on Thursday, and I would email if I had a breakdown before then. She kinda smiled and said okay; probably because she would have offered a phone call but figured I’d have to be basically dying for that to happen. Even this, though, is improvement. Last year, I would have been freaking out, panicking, over the idea of missing a session. There would have been a lot of rearranging of schedules and trying to make an appointment work on Tuesday, or taking a Wednesday appointment and trying to move the other one to Friday. It would have been a mess. This year, I can accept that there is a holiday, and my schedule does not allow me to see her twice this week but I can email her if I need, and after this things will be back to normal. I sorta feel like I have grown up a little bit.

We did talked about Kat and all the changes with school. I thought, in my head, about how when I started school, everything changed. It was one of those thoughts that just pop into my head; random, out of nowhere, a thought that belongs to me but feels almost like its is not mine. I didn’t say it out loud, though. I usually don’t say these thoughts out loud. This one, in particular, was going to lead me somewhere I did not want to go. We talked about how the nanny being part of her life once a week, and me not playing on her level was setting her up in a way to make friends her age in school. In a sense, because Kat doesn’t have us playing on her level on a daily basis anymore, she will have that desire to socialize. Hopefully.

We worked on my map a little bit, too. All the family members are added in. It’s 5 big pieces on paper glued together, so the map is pretty big. On Friday, we added in mental health– substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, trauma. I color coded each thing, and started coloring on my map. My Mom’s family, I could only add in depression for my one cousin and her mom (because during one of our wine tours that cousin told me they were both on medication for depression) and substance abuse for another cousin. On my dad’s side, we added in depression for several people, bipolar disorder, trauma, and schizophrenia. When we got to my grandpa, I paused. I knew depression. I wasn’t sure about anything else. There were whisperings of schizophrenia, but that didn’t seem right to me. I don’t know. Bea told me it was hard to say. She said severe depression can even manifest as psychosis, which could have been his breakdown. We ended up leaving it just with depression, knowing there could be more.

Once that was done, we spread the map out on the floor, and looked at it. I know I want to add in a kind of timeline of significant events, but I am not ready to do that. I know I want to add in the Smiths, but I’m not ready to do that either.

Bea interrupted my thoughts, saying, “I think the most significant thing about this thus far, for me, has been seeing how young your parents were, and where they were in life, what happened before, what was happening.”

“I’ve told you before, I think.” I said. I couldn’t be sure. Sometimes I think I’ve said things that I haven’t.

“You have. Something about seeing it like this has really stuck out to me, though,” she told me.

I nodded. “It’s why I wanted a map. To see things. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“We need to add you in. You still aren’t really on the map,” Bea pointed out to me.

I was aware of this. I just didn’t want to add myself in. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to see all my ugly stuff, right there in black in white.

“And your grandpa. We will have to mark his death at some point, too,” she said. It was said kindly, and in that way Bea has of being gentle but firm. She won’t let me live in fantasy land.

“I know. It’s just…then I’ll have to look at all that stuff, all the time when we have this out. Maybe….maybe we need…I don’t know. It’s just having it all there, like that, it makes it…” I shake my head.

“It’s hard, isn’t? Something about seeing it all in there, written down, makes it very real.”

“Maybe….maybe we need to put it on a post it or something, so we can take it off so we don’t have to look at it,” I suggested.

Bea nodded. “Then we can have it on the map, when we are on a place we can handle it. And it can be put away and contained when it’s not able to be faced.”

I nodded my head. “Yes.”

We talked a little more about making the Map, and I admitted to finding it hard to put certain things on the Map. I also said something about wanting to see more of the story, the events, on the Map. At one point I jokingly said that the Map was one of my dumber ideas, and Bea laughed.

“I’ve never thought you to have a dumb idea. In fact, you are one of those people who when I am stuck on a problem, I think what would Alice do? You have very good ideas, in life and in therapy.” Bea spoke firmly, but almost like a conversation, authentic, but one of those on passing type things you say. It was one of the nicest things someone has ever said to me. I didn’t reply, because I really couldn’t. I suck at accepting compliments. Maybe the perfect part of me said thank you, I’m not sure. I was able to be present enough to hear what she had to say and remember it, at least. I think that was mostly due to the very casual way she spoke.

So, the map continues to bring things up, create questions, and provide answers all at the same time. It’s giving me a sort of clear direction and having a visual is helpful for both Bea and I, I think. Perhaps on Thursday I will add in the hard things about myself and my Grandpa on post its, so they can be removed. This map is leading me in directions I didn’t expect, but it’s good. It’s made me share things with Bea that I never would have, and it’s given her more context of my family, I think.

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Choppy

Session was a blur, random and choppy today. I was detached in that “I have to be okay and not break down” kind of way. It’s different than the typical dissociated flashback trauma memory therapy sessions. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s trying to stay on the surface while Bea pushes a little and I resist. It’s a piece of me trying to break through the shell of okayness, a part of me wanting to do nothing more but sob and scream and fall apart in the safety of her office, of Bea’s presence, but the part of me that controls the okayness is stronger and always wins. That perfect me part has been in control for so much longer than anything else, she has been “me” for most of my life, and she is so strong, I fall back on her all the time, whenever I am afraid I won’t be able to function if I face my feelings, face my reality. So….yeah. Session was choppy because perfect me was running the show.

I walked in and said hello, sat down. We talked about Hagrid not having his walk. I had brought a treaty bone for him, and showed her how I had filled it with treats. “I fill this with his food, too. It slows down his eating. This is the bone thing I was telling you might work for your dog.” We had been discussing those expensive slow feeder dog bowls one day, at the end of session. Bea has a dog that eats it’s food way too fast, too.

“That’s great. He’s too cute eating his treats that way,” she smiles.

I nod. He is cute.

I don’t remember conversation after that. Maybe it was small talk for a few minutes. I’m not sure. After a while, she asks me about our nanny, if I had been feeling any different or talked to her or noticed anything with her feelings.

I sighed. “She did text me and say she felt like she was losing everyone. I told her I will always be here for her. I said that I am not going anywhere, I’m just a phone call or text away. Did I tell you that already?” I can’t remember if I had told Bea this or not. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t know what I’ve told someone or not. It makes me feel crazy.

“We talked a little about it. You are a secure base for her, in some ways, I think.”

“I don’t know. It’s not like we are parents to her. But..well, we aren’t old enough to be her parents. But she calls us when her car breaks down. She called me when her boyfriend broke up with her. She called hubby when she got in trouble at a party that had alcohol. Her parents aren’t very…I don’t know…very parent like.”

“How old was she when she started working for you?”

“She was 17. Just out of highschool.”

“You really are in a secure base role. It’s almost like at the same time Kat is stepping out and separating from you, going off to explore, so is the nanny. She’s growing.” Bea says thoughtfully.

I think about this, let it sink in. “Yeah. Maybe. Does that mean I shouldn’t call her after her last day with us?”

“No, not at all. I think you can check in. Just be mindful. If she tells you how great things are, how excited she is about stuff, then she is in exploration phase. If she is telling you how stressed she is, or how hard stuff is, then she really might be needing her secure base.”

I nod. “Okay.”

Then…it gets blurry again. I think perfect me took over for a bit, and I detached to keep from crying and falling apart.

I don’t know how much later, I tell Bea, “Hubby talked to his mom a few days ago.” I almost whisper it, and I am pretty sure I say it out of the blue. But maybe Bea is used to that: me being scattered and saying things randomly. I don’t know.

“I was wondering. We never did finish talking about that last week, and what happened.”

“Well, he talked to her like, 3 days ago, and even though he had all morning yesterday, most of the morning the day before, to talk to me about it, he conveniently forgot.”

“It does seem like it would be hard to forget about, because it was such a big thing last week,” Bea agrees.

“I think he just didn’t want to deal with it, deal with me and my feelings about it. I don’t know.” I shrug.

“That makes sense. He is trying to be the compromiser, it’s his personality to make everyone happy and avoid confrontations,” Bea gently reminds me.

“I know.” I say it stubbornly, like a kid who is mad that that that they have to admit they know the adult is right.

“What did they talk about?”

“I don’t know all of it. But I guess he told her if she is to see Kat at all, there is not going to be any pretend play, they will sit at a table and do worksheets and hubby will sit there with them.”

“And she agreed to this?” Bea asks, surprise in her voice.

“Well, I doubt it. But he said she said ‘ok.’ He said his dad must have knocked some sense into her.” I shake my head, just bewildered with the entire situation.

“So did he talk to his dad?”

“No. I don’t think so. So who knows what really happened. But I told hubby that I wanted the time limited to a half hour every other week. And he said no, an hour every week I told him if it was an hour every week, I wanted the visits recorded. I told him I didn’t want to bring this up, I didn’t want to kick him when he was down, to pick on him when things were bad but he was forcing my hand, that he had told me two months ago he was supervising visits with his mom and now I learn he was hanging in the garage with his dad. So how am I supposed to trust that he will actually supervise this time? Or contain the situation?”
I don’t remember what Bea said. I was fighting within myself to show my “perfect me” or this angry teenager me that hubby’s mom seems to bring out. I know I felt like Bea got it, and was on my side. I know that she talked about compromise, and told me it didn’t feel like the decision was resolved yet. I know she said she could see why didn’t trust that he could contain the situation with his mom.

“Maybe you could let things come to a natural end? Say that you would like to aim for play dates to be a half hour but if things are going well, let it come to a natural end? Follow Kat’s lead?” Bea suggests.

I nod. “Ok. I can ask hubby if that would work.”

“The worksheet idea…that concerns me, because it is like punishment for Kat, too, not just Oma.”

“I know. I told him that. I think he wants to keep, no to force Oma to stay in a grown up mindset, and also he wants Kat to think of Oma as not fun. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“I agree that pretend play isn’t a safe thing to do with Oma, but what making a list of things that are safe?”

I sit for a minute, feeling kind of blank, unable to think of anything. “Could you make a list?” I ask finally.

“What about games? That would be good for Kat, not allow too much time for Oma to get into trouble, and be fun.”

I nod. “Ok.” I think for a minute. “Puzzles?”

“Yes. Puzzles would be good too, although that may allow more time for Oma to talk.”

Some time passes, and I am not sure what we talk about. Maybe about Hubby not having a secure base in his mom any more, or about nanny separating from me or Kat being in the exploration phase and separating from me. I don’t know. Then Bea says it seems like I might be in need of a secure base myself right now. I think that I do feel like I am in a free fall, lost and alone.

“Have you talked to your Grandma?”

I tell her no, and some tears fall.

“Have your parents talked to her?” Bea pushes, just a little.

“I don’t know. I haven’t asked.”

Miss perfect takes over pretty quick and stops the tears. I can’t do this. I can’t break down right now.

We circle back to hubby’s mom, and Kat visiting her.

Bea gives her opinion again. “I think if you can say visits should be between a half hour and hour, coming to a natural end, following Kat’s lead that would be a good compromise. I think of you can let two or three visits happen and watch Kat’s behavior, and if it is affected then ask Hubby to record visits based upon what you are noticing, that is more than fair. And I think if you can have the activity at the play date be a game or puzzle, and allow Oma to choose the game, give her a fraction of control, that will give you the best results.”

I stare at her. “She doesn’t deserve to even see Kat! She’s not a safe person! She’s not nice or good! She is horrible. She doesn’t have the right to make any choices, or have any control over any of this. No. No. No. What should happen is she never ever sees Kat again. Ever. She is lucky she is even being allowed a half hour every other week. And you think I should allow her some control? No. No way.” I shake my head. I’m so angry. So much anger, and hurt. How can Bea think this? It is not fair.

Bea takes a breath, and starts to talk. Then she stops herself. “I almost gave you Bea the person answer, but I need to give you the therapist answer,” she says. “I’m only giving you an outside opinion on the situation. You are really emotionally invested in this, and how could you not be? But if Kat is going to see Oma, we need to think about what is going to make the visits have the best possible outcome for Kat, right? Oma is clearly emotionally, mentally unstable. So giving her some form of control, in a way that we are controlling, is a safe thing to do and will make her more willing to cooperate and be positive during her visits with Kat.”

I breathe, and listen to what Bea is saying. Then I sigh. “I know you are right. I know that. But I want to scream and say no way. I want to just keep Kat away from her. She isn’t a safe person. She’s terrible.” I shake my head.

“I’m not ‘right’.” Bea laughs. “I’m giving an opinion.”

“No….it may be an opinion, but it is right.” Her opinion is clear, Kat-focused, and not cluttered with anger and hurt and trying to control everything. Her opinion is about making the visits safe and positive for Kat, and trying to contain the situation as best as possible. So, at least in my mind, she is right. “I’ll tell hubby. I’ll suggest these things to him.”

“That’s good,” Bea says. “Now. I don’t think you ever need to see her, speak to her, have contact with her again. The things she said about you and the way she has treated you…well, you don’t deserve that, and none of those things are true. And you don’t have to forgive her or like her, and she doesn’t deserve anything from you anymore.”

“That what makes me even more angry. I still…ugh. As much as I never liked her..she was so fake, from the beginning, I tried so hard to like her, and I would notice little things she might like, remember them for birthday gifts, whatever. I still find myself noticing things like that. Even yesterday, I was out for a walk and saw a carved stone in someone’s garden and I thought that she would like it. And that makes me even angrier. It’s like I failed. I don’t know. Ugh.”

“It’s going to take some time to sort this all out. You have every reason to be angry.” Bea says something more, and I think she gets what I am saying. And she tells me that she sees there is no forgiving the things that this woman has said about me.

I shake my head. “I forgave her that, and more, before, she’s said awful things before. I remember….the memory is so clear, sitting in my moms kitchen, at the table, holding my laptop, and staring at this email she sent me about how one day when I marry her son I will carry his children which will hold her blood so i will be forever bonded to her and basically have to follow her orders because this is God’s will. And my mom was at the counter, it’s L- shaped, stirring something, and we were talking. I was trying to decide if I could marry hubby because I would be stuck with this woman. And it was maybe 3 weeks before my wedding. And my mom helped me decided that no one should stop me from being with the love of my life, my best friend for the rest of my life. And then, on my wedding day, I remember getting out of the limo, and my dad standing there, ready to walk me down the isle, and he says, ‘if you change your mind because of that crazy bitch, the truck is right there, and we can go. It’s okay.’ And I said that I was getting married today. And he okay, and walked me down the isle. But how sad is that? His question had nothing to do with hubby. My parents love him. It had everything to do with his mom. And I never knew mother in laws could be evil. My mom’s mother in law, my grandma, is like a mom to her. My grandpa, my grandma, my dads whole family is like a family to my mom. She never calls anyone in-laws. She introduced people as ‘my sister, my brother’. I didn’t go into marriage expecting anything different.” I finally take a breath.

Bea shakes her head. “I would never think you went into marriage expecting anything different than having a second family. That’s not who you are.” And I feel seen and heard and good, because she has seen me mad and mean and crying and broken an happy and in control and crazy and everything in between so she does know who I am, and her validation that I would not go into marriage expecting anything but a good relationship with my husband’s family means a lot.

I tell her about the fight when I was 5 months pregnant, how my mother in law called me a fat cow, and told me my parents didn’t love me (it was her rationalization for her bad behavior at my bridal shower) along with other terrible things. And, I forgave her saying those things and more and tried to like her, tried to get along with her and be okay, for hubby, for Kat. I tried.

“You forgave a lot. I would have been done at fat cow. My gosh. You were 5 months pregnant! Talk about hitting someone where it hurts.” Bea says.

“She always knows exactly where to hit. What people’s weaknesses are. She’s…ugh. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“Well, you never have to see her again. It’s not good or healthy for you to be around her, and it’s not good for you to keep forgiving things like that when she isn’t sorry or changing her behavior towards her. It’s not healthy. And it’s not good for Kat to see that between you and Oma, either. So, you really need not see her again.”

I snuggle Hagrid to me, hug him. “Yeah. I know.”

We wrap things up, and Hagrid and I head out. He didn’t get his walk this morning, and he runs to the sidewalk.

Bea laughs as she watches us walk out. “He is ready for his walk!”

“He really is!” I call back to her, smiling.
“Have a good day,” she says.

“You, too,” I say.

Detached and Dissociated

What does it mean to be detached? What does it mean to be dissociated? I personally believe that it means something a little bit different to everyone, and also, that the psych websites and technical definitions have got it a little bit, well, off. All of that considered, let’s start with the technical definitions anyway, just so we can all be on the same page, okay?

Detached:
1. A voluntary or involuntary feeling or emotion that accompanies a sense of separation from normal associations or environment.
2. Separation of a structure from its support.
3. A voluntary or involuntary feeling or emotion that accompanies a sense of separation from normal associations or environment.
4. Lack of connection to other people or the environment.
5. Separation of a structure from its support.

So, detached, then is basically a separation from support, or separation from normal associations and the environment one is in.

I have spent most of my life detached, I just wasn’t aware of it. I always had a feeling “something” was missing from my relationships, and I was right. What was missing was me, being close to the people I cared about. Being detached feels like being slightly removed from the people in your life. It’s as if they are there, and they are a part of things, and while you trust them, and value their opinion, and even believe that they care about you, it’s only to a point, and it’s more of a surface type trust. I don’t trust them with my deeper secrets, my inner self. I care about them, very deeply, but that aspect of feeling remains hidden from everyone; it’s not something I show.

Being detached is sort of like moving through a fog, or having a fog separating me and the other person. The closer I am to the person, the less fog there is. It’s like I am always alone, because the fog keeps others out; even those who are less separated are still very effectively kept out. Because I am always alone, I feel very needy when I do reach out, and I get very afraid that those I get the slightest bit close to are going to leave.

Dissociated (I have covered this term before, but I think it’s worth it to go over it again, in contrast to detached, from my point of view)
1. The splitting off of a group of mental processes from the main body of
consciousness, as in amnesia.
2. The act of separating or state of being separated.
3. The separation into two or more fragments.
So, then, dissociation is the the mental process of “checking out”, separating our awareness from our memory.

Dissociation for me, seems to occur on different levels. There’s the fact that I am always dissociated from my body, on some level. I seem to “live” in my head, and not feel my body. As a person who is diagnosed with fibromyalgia (a chronic pain condition) this can be a good thing in some ways, as I don’t feel my pain unless it is really, really bad. I didn’t even feel my labor pains until it was time to push — and I had a natural, pain medication free birth (until we ended up with a c-section).

But I have gotten off track. With dissociation, I can be just a little “not there”, or a lot “not there”. A little “not there” feels normal to me, it’s what I am used to. I feel just a little bit pulled back, maybe a little bit removed, not as emotionally involved in any of the situations. I don’t believe that I have ever experienced the looking down at myself type feeling, but, watching my hands type this can feel a little surreal, like these aren’t fully my hands, even though I know they are. With this level of dissociation, when memories form, they don’t form with details. I may remember that I took Kat to the park, and that we went to lunch, but the details get lost. Being dissociated in this way is how I have lived my life since I was sexually abused. It kept me safe. It’s one reason I don’t have a lot of memories throughout my life. I’m an expert at moving through life and functioning in various levels of dissociation. Most people don’t ever realize that I’m not really “there”.

The other type, the a lot “not here”, is harder to describe, because, well, I’m not really there. I feel like everything is fuzzy and hazy, far away, but it’s not that telescope view where things look small and far away that I have heard people describe. They just seem for away, like I can not connect, or like the can not reach me. Things are hazy. Things and people feel really seperate. I don’t feel my body at all. I feel a little light headed and floaty, but at the same time, I can feel like I’m deep inside my head. Emotions can’t touch me, I don’t have to feel them. I don’t know if I can say that I feel safe, because I don’t really feel anything, I just kind of exist at that point.

Okay, readers: if you are someone who has experienced dissociation, in any form– derealization, depersonalization– or detachment, please feel free to describe your experience in the comments. I think the more personal explanations of these experiences there are, the better understanding of them we can get.