Dissociation/disassociation is such a weird thing. For a long time I had no idea what I was experiencing.
I think my brain has somehow become very sensitive to trauma. When shock hits my brain it’s thrown into something quite weird.
The best example I can remember of this recently was about 10 months ago I arrived at the scene of an accident.
A few moments later I rang a friend to tell her that I was stuck in a road block because of an accident. I asked her if she would come and collect me and the children as I couldn’t get the car out.
“Where are you?” She said
“I have no idea” I answered
This was a route I had driven many times and a road I knew well. I stood there and I was just in total dissociation. I had no idea where I was. I went to my phone and googled my location and sent her a screenshot.
She arrived and picked us up. I returned home still feeling like I wasn’t really on the planet. I spent days reliving the worst memories of what happened that evening but unable to piece any of it together into a timeline. Your brain is so desperate to piece that you end up in this situation where you are trying to fill the gaps. There’s a lot of confusion.
That evening was a great to example of my sensitivity to trauma and inability to process trauma. It was a great example of disassociation. There’s still a lot about that evening that doesn’t make sense.
There’s also a lot about my description of events that makes little sense to anyone else. They don’t understand how I could just forget huge chunks or not remember bits.
The memories of my traumatic experiences are similar. I have distinct visual memories, sensations, smells, sounds but there is very little timeline. It’s extremely hard to piece it together in a logical order. Sometime I also find one flashback merged with another and I’m seeing or feeling things from different events. This majorly adds to the confusion. My brain constantly searches for a timeline.
This dissociation at this level is a new thing in the past 2-3 years for me. My brain frequently does this on a regular basis. If I’m faced with having contact with my abuser especially. It doesn’t need to be face to face. It could be just an email. It immediately sends me into this severe emotional flashback. I feel agony. It’s paralysing levels of fear. My brain is in pure fight or flight. My brain is telling me that I’m about to be attacked. I’m scanning for any sign of threat. My heart beats fast and I feel panic. I’m flooded with nausea and diarrhoea. Every sound makes me jump. It used to just last a moment but now the feeling lingers for hours or sometimes days. Alongside it is this horrific feeling about myself. I feel dirty. I feel ashamed. I feel to blame. I feel angry.
I could pop out shopping when I’m feeling like this or try to go to work and simple tasks seem impossible because I’m just not quite with it. I feel like I’m kind of floating above myself. I don’t have focus about what I am doing and I don’t remember what jobs I have to do. My brain spins through thousands of thoughts. Ruminations of trauma and anger towards my abuser.
The frustration of this is just intolerable. Every bit of me just wishes I could be free from him. I feel like I’m still his prisoner.
I haven’t figured out how to ground myself in times like this. I don’t have the discipline at the moment. This is where I’m hoping this stimulus discrimination might help. I’ve somehow got to stop the exposure to him causing me to spin out and for the impact to be so huge.
It doesn’t need to be something which is that traumatic. It can be the simplest thing. Someone shouting at me. The sight or smell of something which is a distinct trigger. The reaction is the same.
Disassociation terrifies me. It’s quite scary.
I’m hoping stimulus discrimination will help stop this happening.
A life free from the impact on my ability to function. To get to a point where I’m controlling the flashbacks and they aren’t controlling me.