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  • Writer's pictureKelli Niewhoner

Unraveling the Mystery of Dissociation: Tips for Identifying and Coping with Triggers

Dissociation is a phenomenon that many individuals may experience but may not fully understand. It refers to a detachment from one's thoughts, feelings, or sense of identity, often as a coping mechanism in response to overwhelming stress or trauma. In this blog post, we'll explore what dissociation is, talk about its various forms, and discuss how to identify these signs within yourself.



 

What is Disassociation?

Dissociation is a psychological defense mechanism that involves a temporary escape from reality. It's a way for the mind to distance itself from distressing thoughts, memories, or emotions. While dissociation can be a natural and adaptive response to stress, it can become problematic when it interferes with daily life or persists over an extended period. This is a little different from daydreaming about being on a beach somewhere. Dissociation can present itself differently in each person. Below are some differing forms of disassociation that one may experience.

 

Forms of Dissociation:

Depersonalization:

  • Defined by a sense of detachment from one's own body or self. Individuals experiencing depersonalization may feel like they are observing themselves from outside their own bodies.

  • Involves a perception of the external world as unreal or distorted. Objects and people may seem unfamiliar or distorted, leading to a feeling of disconnection from the environment.

  • Memory loss, where individuals may have gaps in their recollection of events, periods of time, or aspects of their own identity. This can be a protective response to traumatic experiences.

  • A state where individuals may struggle with a sense of who they are, their values, or their identity. This can be particularly prevalent in individuals with dissociative identity disorder (DID).


 

Listed above are just a few ways that dissociation may present itself. It's important to remember that these symptoms are involuntary and sometimes difficult to explain. Because it can be difficult to express how you are feeling, we have listed a few common symptoms of dissociation. Our brains are truly incredible; it will find ways to protect itself from harmful memories/ traumatic experiences and dissociation is one of the many ways to protect us from an overabundance of stress. Also, it is important to note that there are varying degrees of dissociation-- just because you may have experienced some of these symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that you require professional intervention.

 

Identifying Dissociation in Yourself:

Emotional Numbness:

  • If you consistently feel emotionally numb or detached from your own feelings, it could be a sign of dissociation.

  • Recurrent gaps in memory, especially concerning significant events or periods of time, may indicate dissociation.

  • Persistent feelings of detachment from oneself, as if observing life from a distance, may be a red flag.

  • Struggling with a sense of identity or feeling confused about who you are can be indicative of dissociation.

  • Dissociation can affect cognitive functions, leading to difficulties concentrating or feeling present in the moment.


 

If you have, or are currently experiencing, these symptoms you may be wondering how to cope. It can be overwhelming and isolating, especially in the middle of an episode. We have listed a few self-awareness tips to ward off and help prevent future dissociation. Always remember that you aren't alone and to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or professional if you are struggling. We are here to help!

 

Nurturing Self-Awareness:

Mindfulness Practices:

  • Engage in mindfulness activities to bring attention to the present moment, grounding yourself in reality.

  • Seek professional help from therapists or counselors who specialize in trauma or dissociative disorders.

  • Keep a journal to track emotions, thoughts, and experiences. This can aid in recognizing patterns and triggers.

  • Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

Conclusion:

Understanding dissociation is a crucial step toward fostering self-awareness and initiating the journey toward healing. By recognizing the signs and implementing strategies to stay grounded, individuals can work towards reclaiming a sense of connection with themselves and the world around them. If you suspect that you may be experiencing dissociation, don't hesitate to seek professional support to guide you on your path to recovery.

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