The last few days I have been thinking about how far I have come with my dissociation. I guess I was thinking about it because Christmas is coming and in some ways it’s a tough time of the year for me. For me, there are many triggers around this season and I have been working on creating new traditions and new memories. So, I thought about how far I have come and about the times I was hospitalized on the psychiatric unit.
When I was first admitted, I was in crisis mode and my doctor came to see me the next morning. I could hardly talk to him, I thought I was going crazy and I was terrified. I didn’t say much to the nurses either. When my psychiatrist came to see me he asked me if I was angry with him. I was not; he then informed me that my body language was saying otherwise. It was then that I started to learn what my body language was saying and what I was feeling inside were two different things, often they were total polar opposites.
This issue is twofold. First, I was so disconnected from my body that I did not even notice what message I was giving the world. Second, often it was a persona that the world was seeing.
A few years later, during another visit to the hospital one of the nurses and I were talking about how far I had come since the first time I was admitted. She told me “when you first came in here you were so angry and had a huge chip on your shoulder.” I told her that I was not angry, I was terrified. That growing up, if I showed that I was scared I would be in a vulnerable position and this could possible put me in danger. Whenever I was scared I had a persona that came out and she could be bigger, badder and angrier than anyone could be. This protected me.
At times during therapy, what I was saying and what I was feeling were at odds. I started writing my psychiatrist letters after the session to let him know what was going on inside of me during the session. These would be things such as emotions, physical sensations and “cognitive errors” or false beliefs that we were struggling with. Slowly through time the defenses were no longer needed and eventually my emotions and body language started to be on the same page.
I have been thinking about how often I must have given the world the wrong signals. As if being dissociative wasn’t enough of a problem, what the world saw and what I was really feeling created more problems.
I have worked really hard to stay connected to myself and be aware of my body language. I still have times when my body language gives off a different message to how I am feeling. My son is great at pointing this out to me, as are some friends and family, but it is still a struggle. I am now aware that this happens more when I get stressed, tired or have too much on my plate.
There are times my body and I are on different pages, different chapters and hell, even in different books. That’s OK, because in the past we were not even in the same universe.
It is getting better, and being mindful helps me keep an eye on it. My friends and family have learned to ask me how I am doing and if I say fine, but I look angry they will question it. I am fortunate to have friends and family who feel comfortable enough to ask me, for every time they do it helps me get re acquainted with myself.
They have learned that when it comes to me, they cannot always judge the book by its cover.
Until the next chapter
Cheers and be well