Home Dissociation Coping with the effects of dissociation in daily life.

Coping with the effects of dissociation in daily life.

by Matt Pappas

Back in April of 2016 I wrote a post called, “A day in the life of someone who Dissociates“. I wrote it as a way to express what it feels like as a survivor who experienced Dissociation during the abuse that happened, and how it still affects me today.

Dissociation is something that I am extremely passionate about and very interested in, so I can better understand how it affects me and how it affects others.

It’s very common for our minds to “take us away” during traumatic events. This is a safety measure indissociation-during-trauma place to protect us because our brain knows that we are not fully capable of handling the situation as it unfolds in real time.

I remember clearly during the flashbacks, looking down at myself being abused. I can see that little boy being made to perform sexual acts on the teenager up the street and made to endure those acts being performed on him as well.

During those traumatic times, my mind took me away and made it so I was not fully present in the moment. While I was physically there, emotionally I was not.

This form of Dissociation is common among all types of trauma survivors; not soley in abuse survivor cases. Anything traumatic that happens to us; our mind will do everything it can to protect us.

This carries over into adulthood when we can dissociate even when there is no immediate danger present.  The affects of the trauma we endured go far beyond the times when the real danger happened.

A bit of information on how this happens within the brain, based on the trauma we experienced. 

The amygdala, the part of our brain that is involved in fear and trauma response, triggers the release of cortisol by sending a message to the hypothalamus which then sets in a motion a chain of events ultimately ending up in producing cortisol.* source 

When that happens, especially repeatedly with abuse survivors for example, that triggered chemical release can happen even when there is no real danger.  Anxiety is increased, we’re stressed, and even though we aren’t in danger our mind thinks we are.

That in turn can then cause to dissociate more severly as adults, both in stressful and non stressful circumstnaces.

I talked about in that first post , about how I zone out while reading, or watching TV. My mind wanders when I’m driving long distances, or sometimes at work. Again this is very common for survivors and non survivors; but in the case of survivors it can be exacerbated; much more often and sometimes more severe.

This is somethiptsd-trauma-electric-circuit-beakerng that happens often times without us even realizing it. Even if we are aware that we dissociate and we know when it normally happens, we can’t always head it off at the pass, so to speak.

Since I wrote that post I have learned a great deal about being mindful (fully present), grounding skills, coping skills, and techniques to work through flashbacks and dissociative episodes.

I wanted to share with you where I am with Dissociation in my daily life, after about 7 months since that first post. I decided to create a video which you can watch by clicking here, to explain further where I am to date, and how much this still affects me.

Or you can listen to the podcast, right here in the post. As always you can also subscribe in iTunes, Spreaker, and aCast too!

In time, with diligent work in understanding our past and being mindful of who we are and where we are, we can better cope with dissociation when it hits and minimize it’s affect on us.

I hope you’ll give it a listen and share it with any who you think might be able to benefit.

Without further delay…3…2…1.


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Charlie Jaxx November 15, 2016 - 2:01 pm

Loved reading this post and watching the video. Seeing how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished or what you’re about to accomplish is absolutely AMAZING!!!! YOU are AMAZING!!!!

Cindy November 17, 2016 - 2:43 am

I don’t think this is dissociation. What your talking about, like with driving is thinking about two or three things at the same time. True dissociation you don’t have control over. And sometimes it seems to happen over not so stressful things. And BAM. There you are. Not there a n y m o r e
Or sometimes you’re getting your driving licences renewed and you can’t remember your last name, or which town you live in.
I have a high IQ so I’m standing there thinking, Not again, What is this?!, Just leave quietly … I had a psychologist tell me that if you’ve had to dissociate as a child, the more you have to, the easier it becomes, then as an adult, it’s easier to slip in and out of it over non emergency things during times of stress

Matt November 17, 2016 - 8:52 am

Hey Cindy,

Thanks so much for the comment 🙂 Many of the examples I describe are generally considered more common, or perhaps I might use the term “mild”, types of Dissociation and indeed there are countless people all over the world who experience those types of similar “zoning out” or losing focus types of situations in daily life.

Having said that, the frequency and intensity can definitely be increased for trauma survivors. So even something that might not seem too bad or common for many , suddenly becomes much more intense and much more frequently.

I too have experienced similar situations that you described. I’ve stood in line and totally forgot what I was doing there, what was going on, etc. So many other similar situations that are out of my control. Things I’ve known forever about myself just completely gone temporarily.

Dissociative Amnesia also is something I deal with; not being able to remember certain parts of my past; going well beyond the common inability to recall memories and general forgetfulness.

When I dissociated during the trauma, and also during the verbal and emotional bullying in school, I feel it definitely set the stage for things to come that I’m now experiencing. Such is daily life as a survivor 🙂

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