This is going to be a bit of a longer blog post, I wrote this in November 2020. I first started experiencing the things mentioned below in September 2020.
So I’ve been struggling a bit recently and I always get so much out of writing blog posts and really putting my thoughts down somewhere and I think it can be helpful to share my experiences (and you lovely blog readers always comment such helpful ideas and tips under my posts!).
So my struggles started a few weeks ago when I had a one weird moment of disassociation. Then it started it happen more, I’d have sudden moments where I’d disassociate briefly for a few seconds. So to describe the exact feeling I experienced I would look at my arms in front of me and not feel connected to them whatsoever. I was initially quite freaked out by the randomness of these moments but they then became more frequent and started to not seem so new.
It kept happening when I was brushing my teeth. It was like looking at my limbs and I just wasn’t in control of them at all yet they were still functioning and doing normal actions which was really weird. I almost wanted to keep slapping my forehead to feel more ‘present’ almost like I’d zoned out briefly. I think this relates closely to ‘Depersonalisation’ where a person experience a sense of disconnect from their body or a feeling of watching themselves.
Then it started to happen a bit more. For instance when I was driving. I’d be driving with my hands on the wheel in front of me (obviously!) but I wouldn’t feel like they were mine?! It was really odd. It felt like I was sat inside my brain like a visitor but I was looking at myself doing all these things but not really being there, I wasn’t right there in the moment experiencing things. I was obviously there driving but I couldn’t feel it at all…(but was driving fine).
It’s now getting to the point where I feel more and more like I am on auto-pilot. I go upstairs to the bathroom but don’t remember the feeling of taking the steps to get there like I don’t feel the process or the journey. I keep feeling this real disconnect from myself and my body. It’s happening when I’m driving like I can get from A to B absolutely fine but I don’t feel like I experience the journey – the bits in between the start and end of my trips.
I just don’t feel like I’m in the present and really experiencing things which is quite unsettling and it’s so hard to actually sum up what I am experiencing because I can’t liken the experience to anything else. It’s honestly the weirdest thing and doesn’t sound believable when I try and put it into words. I know that I am in control of my body and it’s mine but in those moments it really really doesn’t feel like my limbs belong to me in the slightest.
I know that dissociating is something that can happen as a way of your body coping with stress, trauma, etc by putting itself into this protective state. Mind (a mental health charity in the UK) has a really informative page on dissociative disorders here which I recommend browsing if you are looking for more info on the topic: More info on Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders from Mind UK
When I experience these feelings of dissociating I try to do some grounding exercises to put me back into the present, here’s an example:
- Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you 👁
- Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you 👉🏻
- Acknowledge THREE things you hear👂🏻
- Acknowledge TWO things you can smell👃🏻
- Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste 👅
This can also be really helpful when I just feel generally anxious to because it’s a total distraction from my thoughts and feelings. I’m trying to be kind to myself and I think I’ll try and contact my doctor as I have a feeling it might be related to one of the medications I am on (and it’s always best to double check these things if you can, just in case!).
January 2021 update: I’ve spoken to a psychiatrist via telephone appointment which was really helpful and we are working out a plan of action with all the meds I’m on.