Numbness, disassociation, out of body experience, not feeling alive, anyone feeling these right now? It's okay if you are, it's such a natural way to deal with trauma and grief. What the world is experiencing is a form of trauma and grief and sometimes when that happens, it feels like we are living but almost like we are standing by watching someone else live our lives void of all emotions. It's a state I've been in many times over the last 10 years and one I know well.
Disassociation by definition is a a break in how you mind handles information. you may feel disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. It can affect you sense of identity and your perception of time. It can make you feel like you are aware that you are alive but you don't feel as if you are living. It's almost like you have a foggy, sleepy brain. My mind right now is in that state.
I know this state, I've been here before, more than once. One of my biggest struggles in getting into a better mindset after all my trauma was getting my emotions back online. Disassociation was a huge struggle for me and I worked my ass off to get to a better spot in which I was just starting to feel emotions coming back online. I was starting to feel excitement and hope, peace and love. I didn't feel as anxious or sad, frustrated or mad. Then the pandemic hit. The first month, I did okay. The second month, I survived but now I'm into month six and it's taken a toll on me. I find myself back to feeling disassociated with what is happening around me. The things is, this time I know. This time I am aware. This time I am being gentle and compassionate towards myself because I understand it's a healthy response to the current situation.
The downfall, however, is that I don't know how to pull myself out. One thing I found with disassociation is that I was able to pull myself out before by setting goals and things to look forward to. During a pandemic, that isn't as easy. The difference this time, as opposed to before, is that it's not necessarily a bad thing. The pandemic has really forced me to look at my life deeply. It has opened my eyes to the hurt and sadness, the injustice and unfairness I feel. It has made me re-look life as I thought it would be and where it actually is. When I am in those foggy and groggy moments, where life doesn't feel real, I'm looking at what I can do to ground myself. At a time when all my external supports have been taken away, I've had myself to rely on and that's not easy. I still don't trust my gut, I'm working on it but it's hard. But in those depths of disassociation I am seeing little bits of light. I am seeing little bits of clarity, which seems counter intuitive since dissociation disassociates you from thoughts and feelings but perhaps it's because I've been here many times before and my mind and body are use to pulling themselves out that naturally, things are happening even with the unknowns.
The unknowns are the problem with disassociation right now. Before, I could pull myself out by planning for the future but right now, there are still so many unknowns that it's almost impossible to make plans, it's more of a fly by the seat of our pants and for someone with anxiety, that just increases it 10 fold. In those moments I am trying to focus on what I can change, what decisions I can make and many of them are unconventional but my life the past 10 years has been unconventional so why not keep going that route. It's working out for me so far. For me, I look at disassociation differently because of my past and my experience and knowledge of it. I may be able to connect with the bare minimum during a period of disassociation because I've worked hard on training my body to push itself out of the depths of despair. It's not always easy but my neural-network has changed with all the emdr sessions I have had (which I highly recommend for everyone who has experienced trauma). Even if I can work through it a bit, there is still a reason our bodies revert to that state.
Disassociation serves its purpose, it is there to protect you from trauma. When you are so stressed and overwhelmed that you can't function, your body shuts down to rest. Your body needs to rest, if you push yourself through stress without taking care of you, it doesn't end up well (trust me I know and I'm still dealing with the aftermath of that). Allow yourself the space to sit in it when you need too. As long as you don't stay there long, you will be okay. Take a few days or weeks but know you are giving your body the rest it needs by sitting in disassociation. You don't need to exhaust yourself by trying to get out of the state immediately, let it serve its purpose then start taking baby steps to get back online. It will look different for you than it does for me.
Disassociation also looks like sitting and binge watching whatever show on Netflix I feel like, diving deep into books, running aimlessly, cooking, baking and eating away the day. I don't always have the forethought or knowledge of working through the foggy feeling and bringing myself out but I'm also aware that it's a feeling I and many others are experiencing right now so I revert back to what I know, get through it, survive. One day things will get better, it may not be today or tomorrow but one day you will feel alive again. In the meantime, hang in there. I know it will get better, for me and all of you.
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All Of My Children
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