What is Dissociative Disorder?

If you have had enough resilience to read this blog, you might agree that I’m all over the place.  Maybe you are noticing an apparent need to label myself.

I am an “old depressive” (as in years suffering, rather than age – although, the latter is also true!).  Any knowledge of depression comes through direct experience, rather than theoretical. 

My own knowledge and receptiveness to self-analysis is not a patch on the people I have met on WordPress.  You fellow-bloggers are my inspiration to get life back on track. 

I’m grappling around looking for answers to why life is so difficult.  I wonder how someone can withdraw from life and exist in almost complete isolation for 13 years – that’s including no contact with family for 6-7 of those years.  Even more bizarre is that this gap in time only feels like 3-4 years, at the most.  It doesn’t feel odd to have settled into such a rut.  I can see there are huge implications of dissociation.

For many years, I have been struggling with the idea that “I don’t want to get better, not if it means re-joining life, meeting new friends and having some sort of ambition to work again”. Image

I know it cannot all be down to depression because, right now, I do not feel in the least bit depressed.  There is evidently some sort of avoidance/dissociation going on and it is my intention to find out.

Getting a BPD diagnosis has been an immense benefit in helping me understand – and get to know -myself.  The current mission is to work on this newfound awareness of chronic avoidance (dissociation?).  This is what brings me to Dissociative Disorder.

So what causes Dissociative Disorder? Image

Well, this brain is having trouble researching, so any comments will be welcome.  The theories swing between having ‘a history of childhood abuse/trauma and/or the disruption of a normal parent/child relationship’

A combination of childhood trauma and early relationships, with a tendency to dissociate, can ultimately result in a Dissociative Disorder.  Of course, there are other theories about people having different structures of the brain but, as far as I can determine, experts do not know if this is a cause or an effect.

There are lists of symptoms that are too lengthy to go into here.  I do experience a large proportion, but tend to think many of them will probably be consistent with other mental health issues, BPD being one.

The question is… are these issues relating to my BPD, maybe Avoidant PD, or are my “vacant years” and detachment direct symptoms of DD?

Tomorrow I see my Psychiatrist for the first time in 6-8month.  It’s the NHS, so I hold little hope of her being keen on spending time assessing me.  Nevertheless, I do intend broaching the subject.

In a reply to my last post, “Brokenbutbeingrepaired” (I’ve tagged her blog bellow)left the following link that is very useful if anyone wants to read about DD in more depth.

http://www.pods-online.org.uk/introtodid.html

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24 thoughts on “What is Dissociative Disorder?

  1. dharmagoddess

    “I’m all over the place.” 🙂 I understand completely. I think it’s a natural thing to want to know what causes us such angst in life. My thought is that if I understand what I’m dealing with then I’ll have some chance of fixing it and moving forward. The process can be enlightening but draining.

    Keep up with the questioning and searching. I believe you will figure it out.

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      1. dharmagoddess

        Oh heavens no! Show me someone who thinks they’re “normal” and I’ll show you someone who’s crazier than all of us put together! 😉

        [I use “crazy” as a term of endearment because honestly, our differences and challenges are what makes us beautiful and perfect in who we are.]

        Hugs, Dharma

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  2. Aife

    I don’t care for labels but I understand the need for them. I guess I don’t like the idea of being stuck in a box labeled this or that. What if I want a new box?..lol Anyway, I wish you all the best in your search and if you ever want to hang out with us unlabeled foke stop by. 😆

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    1. Cat Post author

      Of course I am always up for hanging out with everyone no matter their persuasion!! I’m guessing I just need a little order and direction.

      Thanks for reading and commenting

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  3. releasing lunacy

    I’ve been diagnosed with DID and had a really difficult time w/ it. After lots of reading online (professional mental health type sites), I think I finally figured out how it relates to me. I’ve written some of that on my blog under the mental health page –> DID: symptoms.

    For me the dissociation is between thoughts or experiences and emotions. For example, I can think of a certain time in my life but I can’t remember how I felt. I took ballet classes when I was little. From what I remember, I get the vague impression I didn’t like it… but I’m not really sure. I have pictures from several dance recitals. But I only barely remember them, and I can’t remember how I felt at all. I don’t know if I was excited or nervous or if I had fun. I don’t know.

    I think it’s better to know what we’re dealing with than not know. I don’t think of diagnosis as a label. I’m not DID. I have DID. But, I don’t have by-the-book DID. There are aspects of the illness that don’t seem to resonate with me. So, I don’t pay attention to them. I don’t have to conform to a diagnosis. I think of it as a bit of information to help me guide myself when life is difficult. Why am I acting this way? What can I do differently? Or how can I be more understanding of myself?

    Take care,
    rl

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Rl, as always, your post is insightful. I get the same feeling when looking at photo’s. There are also parts of DD that do not ring true for me. Maybe that diagnosis might not all be relevant to me but, like you, I can select what will be of some help.

      I spoke to my Psychiatrist today who – typical NHS – is not too keen to explore DD with me at this stage. In the autumn, I am due to start a 2 years Mentalization Based Therapy for my issues with BPD. She says this is also for people who experience symptoms of Dissociative Disorders. The suggestion was to look at Avoidant Personality Disorder, in the interim.

      She is probably right, but I came home in such a bad mood. Firstly, it always irritates me thsat NHS Psychiatrists don’t really have the time for people unless they are severely mentally ill. Their sole role with most people is to stabalise on medication and make referrals to appropriate services. Seldom are they prepared to allow patients time to explore. Secondly, it is too hot in London. Being Scottish, I’m not used to such stifling heat and anything above 28oC can feel rather miserable. Thirdly, the Psychiatrists office is in a Victorian – gothic looking – Psychiatric hospital, which was once one of the old sanatoriums. I am ultra-sensitive to atmosphere and started to feel very ill in the waiting room. All windows closed tightly (no air con), there was an intense disinfectant odour and the horrors from yesteryears were weighing heavily on my psyche. By the time we actually sat down to chat, I had kind of dissociated and could not think of the story that I had already rehearsed.

      Anyway, I’m back home. The air con unit is droning away – which can also start making me ill – and it always helps me to write my negative feelings away… thanks for listening!

      I appreciate your dropping by!

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        1. Cat Post author

          I don’t know the first thing about twitter!! I’ve been meaning to have a look but, if it’s anything like facebook, I imagine I wouldn’t like.

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  4. Ellen

    A woman in my group was borderline, and she also dissociated sometimes. I think for her some really difficult parts of her were split off and came back under crisis. Mostly she functioned without them. My own dissociation is different. I really only got insight into how I work through therapy with a therapist who is (mostly) kind and accepting, plus has some knowledge. Anyway, there are different types of dissociation, so I guess you’d need to discover what type you have. Currently Dr. Jenner’s blog has a high level description of the different types. Good luck with it. I hope you do start to venture out, not as a ‘goal’, but just because you’ll have more fun if you do. 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Ellen. I saw my Psychiatrist today and she said just what you commented on – that many people with BPD do dissociate. I’m due to start 2 yrs Mentalization Based Therapy in the autumn. I hope working on my issues will make me want to go out more. I was diagnosed with Agoraphobia (related to PTSD) so, that doesn’t help with venturing out.

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  5. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Hi Cat,

    I was diagnosed with d.i.d a couple of months ago, and while it was a relief in some ways to finally have an answer as to what the heck is wrong, it’s still really difficult to accept.

    There are other dissociative disorders; ddnos apparently the more common one with d.i.d being far less common (though, oddly if anyone has heard of any dissociative disorder, it’ll be d.i.d). So, just wanted to offer some assurance that if you had a dissociative disorder diagnosed, it wouldn’t necesarrily (sp?) be d.i.d.

    Think you’re in the uk? If you are…it might be an idea to check out the pottergate centre who do a free screening check. That’s what I did before deciding to go for a full on scid-d asessment (which is unavailable using the nhs where I am, though it is in other areas). Think there’s a link on my blog to it.

    Sending hugs your way, if wanted (hope this posts since quite a few posts seem to have vanished today).

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am in UK, London. I will look into the Pottergate Centre. When I saw my Psychiatrist the other day, she wasn’t keen on discussing. She thinks the MBT I am due to start in the autumn will cover DD as well as my BPD. I find the NHS very slow when it comes to searching for accurate diagnosis.

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      1. brokenbutbeingrepaired

        The NHS…don`t get me started!
        Was discharged from their MH services since I `failed to comply` (ie:didn`t miraculously recover from my then unrecognised D.I.D). Oh, and dissociative disorders don`t exist, according to my local NHS. Not that I`m bitter! I`m not, actually….it has been a huge sense of relief to be out of that system, for me.
        Thankfully, it seems other NHS trusts have patient care higher on their priorities.

        Sending good thoughts your way…hope you have a peaceful night.

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  6. Cate Reddell

    First things first. What makes an old depressive? Is there s timeframe? Personally I hate that term depressive but old depressive (which I suspect might apply to me too) sounds worse than, well most things.

    As for dissociation it’s something I have never got satisfactory answers on. I hope your NHS doc is a rare breed and gives you the time.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, Cate, it is not my best choice of words – you’ve made me think!

      I hold little hope of the NHS exploring DD with me, the Psychiatrist was having none of it

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  7. survivor55

    I’ve only had one counselor I really loved to see because we meshed so well together. She was fun to be with and funny, but also helped me immensely on many occasions. Unfortunately, she retired a long time ago. I really miss her and her insights, her laughter and her wisdom. Anyway, I was telling her something that had happened to me on two occasions. I thought of it (at the very young age when the first incident occurred and not too old when the second one occurred) as a spiritual incident. On both occasions I had left my body, except for part of me which was still connected to my body or I thought I would have gone on to Heaven (that’s why I mentioned my age to you), and I could see everything in the room where this was taking place. The first time I was sitting down and suddenly was up on the ledge above the door as a tiny figure and could see myself, but also see what was happening behind me. The second time I was on the ceiling and watching myself — something bad had happened and I was pacing and crying. My counselor said during these incidents I was dissociative. When I went home and thought of it, I thought of another time when I couldn’t get away physically from something I desperately wanted to distance myself, I felt myself — the me that lives in this body — fold in upon itself. I went so far as to get two pieces of notebook paper — one to give my counselor and one to keep for myself. I made the paper equivalent of a large stick figure (an artist I am not when it comes to drawing, etc.) and folded it all in. First both arms and feet, then both hands and legs, then the rest of me — folding in from both sides equally until it all met in the middle. My counselor agreed this was another instance of being dissociative. I now realize there have been many incidents that I refer to as going to my “shock mode” that could be classified as being dissociative. I guess they’re times in my life that for some reason I cannot handle and so I detach — sometimes so much so that it seems as if I leave my body . . . well, most of it anyway. Yet other times I’ve endured things that seem far worse and haven’t gone into shock mode. I do not understand the difference!!

    — Kathy

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    1. Cat Post author

      That’s very interesting. I do not recall ever dissociating to this extent. If I had this experience, I would want to believe it was more spiritual than dissociative

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      1. survivor55

        Yes, it was hard to change my way of thinking of those two out-of-body experiences. I still do not understand how I was able to see myself and things that were not in my physical peripheral vision. I can still describe what I saw to this day. I understand the folding-in-upon-myself. I think I drew on the image from cartoons due to my age — like when a cartoon character would be squished and then pop out like an accordion and sound like one that’s out of tune, but since this is the first and only time I experienced that particular sensation I didn’t think of it as spiritual. I simply knew at that young age that it was the only way I could escape. The first out-of-body experience was not under stressful conditions, which is why I thought, older but still young, that it was spiritual.

        I trusted my counselor and I believe her interpretation. I just still don’t understand, as I said, how I was able to see everything with my mind’s eye. Maybe that’s another reason I thought it was spiritual — if my soul could partially leave my body it would be able to see with unearthly eyes what I, in my body, couldn’t.

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