Dissociation

Dissociation

Signals flashing through the air,
I don’t even seem to care.
No expression, sit and stare,
Mind withdrawn: I am not there.

Dissociation is, I believe, a defense mechanism, a way of getting away mentally rather than physically. For me it appears to be an unconscious reaction to some sensory or emotional stimulation – the first I often know of it is when I realize somebody is trying to get my attention and they say to me that I was “miles away”.

Don’t ask me where my mind wanders during these episodes – they are blank. I have no conscious memory of what has happened and no sense that any time has passed. In a way it feels similar to the hyper-focused state of flow in that my sense of the passage of time is distorted.

It’s not something that happens often – it’s far more common that I’ll shut down or otherwise become non-verbal and unresponsive while still being aware of what’s going on around me. But every now and then I’ll notice that there is a discontinuity in my memory – either I find myself in a new location with no memory of how I came to be there, or I notice that there has been some change around me. Different people, a change in the lighting. Perhaps the sun has set and I find myself wondering, or even asking out loud, “When did that happen?”

Discontinuity/
Jump cut reality/
Fast-forward memory/
Void in my history.

Returning to the here and now is jarring, unsettling. It’s like falling asleep in one place and waking up in another. There is a strong feeling of dislocation, of confusion. A sense of having lost something. It can even be frightening – being aware that I have moved in time or space but not knowing anything about the transit.