Dissociating for years at a time?

clouds1999

clouds1999

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#1
I feel like I've been dissociating for years. I was diagnosed with anxiety when i was 13 and from then on the disassociation got progressively worse. I don't remember massive chunks of my past, I have conversations with people and rarely ever take in what they're saying, I wake up feeling disconnected and go to sleep feeling disconnected, I find it really hard to figure out sometimes if I'm here or not as nothing really feels real.
I've read about people dissociating for long periods of time but surely not this long? I just feel like I've lived the past 5 years of my life disconnected from reality
I don't know if what's happening is disassociation, i just feel like I've zoned out and can't zone back in
Has anyone else had this problem?
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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#2
Yes, I can definitely relate to what you're saying.

I first got mental health issues when I was 12. I'm 29 now and I can remember very little about the years that have passed.
I really started noticing my dissociation/derealisation when I was 13 and while I don't know what a doctor would say, I feel i've been in that state for the vast majority of that time.

I could speculate and say that maybe it happens so much that your brain starts to think it's normal and it becomes your 'default setting'. :confused:

It's really rubbish and sometimes I find it can bring on a bit of a panic if I think about it too much, so you have my sympathy. :hug1:

Something you might find useful is to keep a diary, even if it's one of those "one sentence a day" journals that you can fill in. It might help you to look back and remember that you are real and that you do do things in the 'real' world.
 
clouds1999

clouds1999

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#3
Yes, I can definitely relate to what you're saying.

I first got mental health issues when I was 12. I'm 29 now and I can remember very little about the years that have passed.
I really started noticing my dissociation/derealisation when I was 13 and while I don't know what a doctor would say, I feel i've been in that state for the vast majority of that time.

I could speculate and say that maybe it happens so much that your brain starts to think it's normal and it becomes your 'default setting'. :confused:

It's really rubbish and sometimes I find it can bring on a bit of a panic if I think about it too much, so you have my sympathy. :hug1:

Something you might find useful is to keep a diary, even if it's one of those "one sentence a day" journals that you can fill in. It might help you to look back and remember that you are real and that you do do things in the 'real' world.
Thank you so much for the advice, I finally contacted a mental health service so I can find out exactly whats going on
I also panic if I think about it too much especially whilst driving as you just feel so out of control
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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#4
Thank you so much for the advice, I finally contacted a mental health service so I can find out exactly whats going on
I also panic if I think about it too much especially whilst driving as you just feel so out of control
Yes! I completely relate to what you mean about driving. I can remember one episode where I had to pull over because i'd freaked out so much. :doh:

I'm glad you've been in touch with the mental health services, hopefully they can offer some insight and support.
 
E

ElizaThornberry

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#5
Recommend seeing a functional medicine doctor to make sure your metabolic health isn’t contributing to these feelings. Vitamin D deficiency for example (common in certain geographical locations that are particularly cloudy and overcast most parts of the year, but can exist despite ideal environments for internal health reasons) can cause serotonin deficiency which leads to mental health issues. That may be treatable or helped with over the counter or prescription supplements if need be. I feel like low iron may also be a factor in contributing to your symptoms as well. Always be sure to rule out physiological health problems, there is something called “brain fog” that can be caused from a number of things but, two of which I know of are liver problems and brain tumors. You could even have a central nervous system issue like, FND, or, perhaps high CO2 in your blood, or, low oxygen intake from pulmonary problems may also cause this fogginess. I just don’t want you to neglect a serious health issue so do consider seeking a specialist (functional med doc 1st then neuro 2nd internal med 3rd pulmonary/cardio 4th) if new or worsening symptoms occur. Also do keep seeing your mental health specialists though as you could be right, it very may well be a psychiatric problem. The inability to click back in from being disconnected from reality does sound like it may be a symptom of a larger problem like c-ptsd for example.
 
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ElizaThornberry

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#6
Nothing feeling real is a common description I’ve seen of a dissociative experience, although everyone experiences it a bit differently. I’ve experienced dissociation in a few ways, like my hands feeling like they aren’t part of my body, an inability to recognize myself in the mirror, a strange feeling of my face being distorted as if it’s made of something gloopy and someone is stretching twisting and pulling it in many different directions completely losing its original structure, and even feeling like everything is a prop made of cardboard and everything was on a stage like in a musical play!


It can be anxiety inducing though, the detachment can get scary sometimes how far away you might start to feel from everyone, and the inability to feel connected to your surroundings. I know in my personal experience these issues often lead immediately into panic attacks, so it’s definitely a good idea to be going through this with a mental health professional alongside you as strange things might come up that are easier to handle with the right kind of help.
 
clouds1999

clouds1999

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#7
Nothing feeling real is a common description I’ve seen of a dissociative experience, although everyone experiences it a bit differently. I’ve experienced dissociation in a few ways, like my hands feeling like they aren’t part of my body, an inability to recognize myself in the mirror, a strange feeling of my face being distorted as if it’s made of something gloopy and someone is stretching twisting and pulling it in many different directions completely losing its original structure, and even feeling like everything is a prop made of cardboard and everything was on a stage like in a musical play!


It can be anxiety inducing though, the detachment can get scary sometimes how far away you might start to feel from everyone, and the inability to feel connected to your surroundings. I know in my personal experience these issues often lead immediately into panic attacks, so it’s definitely a good idea to be going through this with a mental health professional alongside you as strange things might come up that are easier to handle with the right kind of help.

Hi
Thank you so much for your input
I've recently had blood tests checking my liver and iron levels, both came back normal. My doctor referred me to a cardiovascular specialist as he thought I could have Postural orthostatic tachycardia(POTS) syndrome. When I went to see the specialist he ruled out POTS and checked my heart rate and rhythm which were both normal, I was fitted with an ECG for 2 weeks as a precautionary for which I'm still awaiting the results. When I spoke to the specialist he said there is no heart problem that would cause persistent lightheadedness.

I feel like it's a vicious cycle because the more anxious I get the worse it gets, it's just so frustrating that when I don't consciously feel anxious I'm still disassociating. I hate that when I stare at objects they distort and move, It's just frightening and really difficult to describe to people who don't experience it. I'm feeling positive though because I'm finally getting the help I need :)
 
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ElizaThornberry

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#8
Vision distortions reminds me of FND.

But honestly it seems like you have anxiety and dissocation going on more so than a physical thing to me but, that’s just my personal take. Who really knows. (Unfortunately it takes time to figure these things out, I’m sorry you’re going through this).

I’m sure a therapist and psychiatrist can work with you to help you at least feel better and manage the anxiety a bit better so you’re not getting too worked up over it, maybe some medication who knows. There are techniques for handling anxiety that work great on their own too, and types of therapies.

I understand how dissociation can be quite scary but I think if you are able to “center” yourself by calming down it will do you some good to approach the situation rationally rather than with feeling. I know it’s difficult but, I like to meditate when a panic is coming on from dissociation. I use the Calm App for iPhone but there are plenty of guided meditations available on YouTube/on the internet elsewhere. The Calm App I’ve noticed just works particularly well at bringing down even the most extreme panic attacks of mine, very quickly. The “7 days of calm” section, track 2 in particular is my go to. It’s been a god send is why I figure I might share it.

Another great exercise, writing down reminders for yourself to read on a piece of paper when you find yourself in these panicked situations. At first when you have anxiety it’s hard to think straight enough to go, “oh, i’m Having anxiety now, let me just, do what i’m Supposed to do To calm down.” But then you can’t even remember what those things are... lol. So I used to carry around a piece of paper in my pocket that reminded me of what I personally needed. Yours may be different but mine said:

”Relax your body relax your mind. Think don’t feel. Breath. Meditate.”

A grounding exercise I like, is closing your eyes and imagining your in a place. Take a deep breath, and you’re there. For me I picture the beach. Something with lots of sensory input. Your job is to focus on these sensory things in utmost detail. As you go about these steps. Imagining, something you can feel, something you can hear, something you can smell- you are transported and brought down to a calm level. Breathing is back down to normal. And you can open your eyes and you’ll be feeling much better.

And if it makes you feel any better, I do also experience visual distortions. I believe this may be a part of a sensory processing disorder or may just sort of happen to some people, I don’t really know the cause. But I get visual distortions like if I look at the blinds of a window they begin to wiggle quite a bit in a wavy pattern. Strange things like that. I’m really not sure what the cause is. Haha.
 
jackolantern

jackolantern

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#9
I feel like I've been dissociating for years. I was diagnosed with anxiety when i was 13 and from then on the disassociation got progressively worse. I don't remember massive chunks of my past, I have conversations with people and rarely ever take in what they're saying, I wake up feeling disconnected and go to sleep feeling disconnected, I find it really hard to figure out sometimes if I'm here or not as nothing really feels real.
I've read about people dissociating for long periods of time but surely not this long? I just feel like I've lived the past 5 years of my life disconnected from reality
I don't know if what's happening is disassociation, i just feel like I've zoned out and can't zone back in
Has anyone else had this problem?
Hello Clouds, yes I can associate with what you are going through, I have no memory of certain times of my life and a definite disconnect with reality at times which is scary really. Since having Psychosis which started last year a sense of reality is often hard to find and medication makes me zone out a lot of the time. Are you getting any medical help right now ?
 
clouds1999

clouds1999

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#10
Hello Clouds, yes I can associate with what you are going through, I have no memory of certain times of my life and a definite disconnect with reality at times which is scary really. Since having Psychosis which started last year a sense of reality is often hard to find and medication makes me zone out a lot of the time. Are you getting any medical help right now ?
Hi
I'm currently seeking mental help and I'm finding out the results of my ECG on Wednesday.
The past couple of days have been really hard, i think I hallucinated for the first time last night which was honestly terrifying, I didn't know who was in the mirror and I didn't recognise the sound of my own voice. I feel so alone because I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about it.
Thankfully I'm seeing a therapist tomorrow
 
V

vent101

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#11
what might help is grounding so touching five different objects around the room
Helps me a lot.
 

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