What is dissociative disorder?
Of all the many anxiety conditions, depersonalisation / dissociative disorder is one of the scariest because you feel disconnected from your body, as if, you are in the world but not directly participating in life and this detached feeling can trigger thoughts in your mind that you are going mad, or are out of control or might do something silly or lose the plot somehow.
The good news is that you are not going mad, you are not broken and this unconscious anxious response to the stresses of the moment can be treated, when you know what to do. Dissociative disorder is catagorised by many different names, including; depersonalisation, derealisation disorder or depersonalization-derealization syndrome.
If we take a metaphoric view of what is happening, it’s as if, all the senses are doing what they do – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell etc. however, the brain can’t quite take all those inputs and cohesively join them together like it used to do, so, on the whole, you know what is happening and it feels 80% right, but just a little weird and a little remote.
This is not a form of psychosis, more of a muddling of senses and perceptions brought on by the unconscious trying to tell you (by messing you up) that something is wrong in your life (exhaustion, work, relationships, stress etc.) and that you need to make some changes. The depersonalisation normally appears after feeling anxious or depressed for quite a while and is rarely an early presenting symptom.
Symptoms of dissociative disorder
As the person experiencing the disassociated anxiety disorder gets more and more anxious and more and more fatigued the range of symptoms usually reported include:
- The head or hands feel detached from the body
- Feelings of the body growing or shrinking
- It feels like someone else is talking rather than you
- You can walk in nature and feel detached from everything
- Good emotions become numbed – but not the anxious ones!
- Thoughts feel like they are not yours
- Time can become distorted so NOW can be all there is
- Emotions can quickly rush in without any perceived cause
- Shorts moments of amnesia
- Trance like momentary states – perhaps just staring at something
For some people it is like that transition we have each morning between sleeping and awakening where we are not sure where the dream ends and the reality starts again, in fact, it can be like living in a daydream.
Unknowingly, the sufferer makes their own situation worse by constantly worrying and asking themselves why? Why is this happening to me? What can I do about it? Am I going mad? And all of this constant internal dialogue and mind chatter actually makes the phobia worse and they continue to emotionally exhaust themselves.
Due to the scary nature of the anxiety inducing condition the individual often has to avoid driving or certain aspects of their work and needs to “make up” excuses or reasons to cover up their insecurities, this often leads to feelings of guilt, frustration and a lowering of their self-esteem.
In our experience the majority of sufferers of dissociative disorder are intelligent individuals who have a huge propensity for thinking and analysis and as they feel that they are losing control of their thoughts it frightens them more than others because their association with their mind is often what defines them – “I am a thinker.”
Depersonalisation disorder treatment
The Calmness in Mind Anxiety Treatment Program takes you on a journey of self-awareness and personal growth that teaches you what is happening, how to interrupt it and then what to do to re-engage with life in such a way that the anxiety does not return. This is a sensible and logical (written by an Engineer!) process that gets you back on track and gives you all of the missing pieces of the jigsaw so you can put yourself back together again.
As you pop out of the other end of the process you’ll find you will have more control over your emotions and a profound realisation that there is a time and a place for thinking and when it is not needed it is OK to have silence in your mind, because a silent mind leads to a calm body.
Learning also how to not take things so personally and to not have to be perfect in everything you do can be quite an eye opener and absolutely allows you to become more productive with less stress and anxiety and the dissociative disorder slowly fades away.