My friend is visiting for the weekend and I’ve got big plans. The best thing about my BPD is that if I’m going to do something, I’ll do it properly. Go big or go home, so we go big. A bit of time with our favourite Pretty Little Liars, a lunch date and a cheeky baking session in the afternoon.
So after a typically intense episode of PLL we head out to one of my favourite spots for lunch, order some food and sit down for a chat. It’s fine. At first…
After a while the sound goes out of proportion: her voice is muffled while the general hubbub and chatter in the cafe seems to be incredibly loud. It’s like the sound is crawling inside my body, scratching and gnawing at my insides and taking over my head. It’s an angry sound, as though the entire world is furious that I exist and that I’m here.
The room slips away.
Although I’m sat in the same seat and my body is only a few feet away from my friend I feel miles away. She’s fading into the fog. Or maybe I am. Maybe she’s exactly where she’s always been and I’m simply vanishing from my own world and body.
But I fight back. I know what this is. Dissociation has attacked me before, so I know that if I give in to its torments I’ll become a prisoner in my body, far from the world that surrounds me. So I speak relentlessly, desperate to maintain control and losing awareness of the subject with every second. I tap my feet on the shabby-chic floorboards to remind myself that I can. To prove that the floorboards are still there, no further from me than they ever were. I double numbers: 2, 4, 8, 16…
This is one example from my experience of dissociating, but it’s different for other people and can vary for me too. I’ve had times when I thought I was floating, or where I was certain that I was in a dream and that whatever was happening around me wasn’t real. Dissociation is essentially when you become disconnected, normally from yourself or your surroundings. It can feel like you’re far away from your body or as though you’re isolated in your own foggy little world.
I want you to know that I’m not claiming to be an expert or medical professional, I’m only recounting advice based on my own experiences. All the same I’d like to tell you a couple of the ways I cope with dissociation and provide a couple of links in case you want more information.
When I dissociate I use grounding techniques:
- Touching something very cold
- Eating/drinking something with a very strong flavour. Ginger, Chilli, Mint, Ice
- Doubling numbers
- Reciting my name, date of birth, address etc
- Using my senses to make a list of things I can: smell, hear, see, feel or taste
These sites are pretty useful:
Just a note: Grounding techniques can also be useful for panic attacks!