An illustration on Dissociation and Depersonalisation…🧠

Hi everyone – hope you are all doing okay. Back in February I wrote a blog post on my own struggles with Dissociation and Depersonalisation, I find it really helps to write down things I’m going through (so if you fancy reading that here is a link). I thought I’d do a drawing as I know so many people deal with this daily and i think it’s important to educate others on what it’s like to live with.

My struggles started towards the end of 2020 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.

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 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 

I’m always happy to chat further in the comments and my social media DM’s, and feel free to share any tips you have in the comments below.

Disassociation and Depersonalisation 🧠

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.