Is dissociation normal?
I am an outsider looking in. Standing in front of the crystalline glass, my hand on the palm of the window. Narrating conversations, Oh, he is looking at me funny. Oh no, I am doing it again. My options are limited to watching or engaging. Stumbling, I engage. So, I am not labeled as insane. Is this my only option?
What I wish people knew about dissociation
Another dark trait of mine is the tendency to dissociate.
What I described above is a representation of being scared to look insane. A reality I have been struggling with since I was young.
See, I am a victim of my imagination, a mere pushover detaching from reality. Imagination is too natural for me.
No, it is not at flex. In opposition, I fancy living in the moment.
Dissociation is the disruption, interruption, and or/discontinuity of the normal, subjective integration of behavior, memory, identity, consciousness, emotion, perception, body representation, and motor control.The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5)
The above definition is the chosen one by the diagnostic community. However, dissociation is also a conventional part of daily life.
For instance, Jung understood dissociation as a natural state of the psyche, capable of becoming defensive.
Skeptics view dissociation as a 1980’s fad like a life coach to some people today. Naysayers assume this happens in fantasy-prone people. I’m guilty as charged.
In their defense, controversy exists because dissociation beliefs often neglect scientific literature.
Dissociation is sometimes a symptom present in other psychological disorders.
Hence, it is vital to clarify that this post is not about the diagnostic definition or symptoms.
Rather a confession by someone prone to fantasy, imagination, and dissociation.
In this vein, check out the things I wish people knew 👇🏼.
1. I don’t ignore you on purpose
I cherish the moments where I am not daydreaming.
The times where my dancing shadows are not competing with people around me.
I’m sorry I don’t always listen to you.
Often, I leave a chat in my head halfway sentence.
It is difficult to explain that there are competing noises in my head.
Sometimes, I prefer people believing that I am purposively being a horrible listener vs. being lost in my own mind’s maze.
2. Actual tv shows are running in my head.
Do you know how you can get lost in the Netflix vortex? Well, my brain does the same.
I stream one episode after the other with my own made-up characters.
The longest and richest season lasted four years. Essentially, I grew up with my fantasy spy series.
As I grew older, the romance theme surged. The seasons are shorter now. More precisely, approximately 6 months.
Unlike Netflix, though these episodes pop up at unearthly times.
Sometimes, when I feel threatened or resent my environment. Instead, I prefer careful chaos(ed) situations and drama in my head vs. real ones.
Furthermore, dissociation can happen in seemingly upbeat spaces, where fun exists. At times, I even enjoy the party mob and chit-chat.
Inappropriately, like a weasel, my episode summons me. Snap. I’m exiled back to my mind-penitentiary.
When I am deeply invested in a scene, the human sounds asking me questions disturb me. Therefore, I get snappy.
3. It takes an effort to be present.
Furthermore, being present with you takes a lot of effort and energy. Perhaps, it feels like steam leaving my body.
Hence, I need time to refuel. I need my alone time to catch up on my thoughts to free up my real-life time.
When I am out, I want to be listening and hearing every one of your stories with full intent and sincerity.
It takes me a long time to be open to your conversations, but when I do, I truly listen. Even, mull it over again after.
WATCH OUT. She’s an imposter.
Furthermore, I hate the feeling of “in-betweenness”.
Not being here or there transcends into other aspects of my life. Specifically, feeling like an imposter can sometimes be a byproduct of dissociation.
To illustrate, you are in a fancy building but your mind and body are elsewhere. Believing you need to run, you don’t belong.
Wait, what? What does being an imposter have to do with dissociation? Really, it is unrelated.
Except, in my case whenever I feel like an imposter I dissociate and start fantasizing. The prime location for my dissociation episodes was in the university halls.
Maybe, it is because I experienced extreme bouts of self-doubt. That is where my anxiety kicks in and my imagination flares out.
I am unsure if there is some sort of scientific relation, but it is a trend I noticed in myself.
An imposter, a fraud, and an expert walk into a dance
Who do you think the imposter is? No, this is not a riddle. The answer can be difficult to understand.
See the imposter, can be the expert. That person who has the credentials knows the facts but feels misplaced.
Whereas, the fraud, can feel at ease, confident, and in the rightful space.
This begs the question, are there actual imposters? Or do we all fit in by feeling like we do not fit in?
Does anyone belong here?
Oh man, imposter syndrome is a real disease infecting our minds.
During our rowdy teens, a lot of us grew up thinking we were different from everyone else.
No, we did not fit in. When in reality, a lot of students’ complaints, worries, and fears sound similar. A lot of which stems from trying to fit in.
A recent study found that classroom competition resulted in more imposter feelings.
Fitting in, that is why we buy these clothes, cars, and more.
Following successful men and women as they lead companies, start a new job, or raise their kids.
At some point, everyone looked around and thought:
- I don’t belong here.
- Everyone looks more professional.
- I have no idea what I am doing.
- Don’t pick me.
Maybe, these thoughts are normal and commonplace- yet, we would never dream to say them out loud, in case our secret is revealed.
We continue pretending, we are ok. Yes, we know it all. No, we don’t struggle. Does that sound familiar?
Conclusion…Is dissociation normal?
Finally, it is difficult to tell if someone is dissociating or just thinking.
Dissociation comes in different levels. Radars do not exist to scope out our thoughts.
In extreme cases, a person can not even recognize themselves.
Whereas, in milder cases, they simply imagine a more pleasing setting.
In particular, I only realized I dissociate often while reviewing for a psychology exam on dissociative disorders.
Perhaps, you noticed that most people who enter psychology do so, to solve their problems. Well, I am no exception.
The more you dig the more problems you find. At some point, you need to stop digging.
Moderate dissociation is a normal phenomenon. Hence don’t worry if you dissociate a little.
Sometimes, when the condition merits it we need to say, “Hey, I’m checking out now“. On that note, so am I. Bye 🙂
When do you check out of conversations?