Dislec- dsylecti- dysletc- … can’t spell well

If I don’t use a spellchecker, I need to focus real hard on what I write and will still make mistakes unless I ‘paint’ the words letter by letter. I am dyslectic. For my blog I always write with a spellchecker, because I don’t want to come across as being dumb. Reading what others write on their blogs – or in comments – is just as challenging. Reading is hard when the letters blur and seem to wobble and fade out. It takes all the fun out of reading, I can tell you, because it’s exhausting. Have a try. I believe this should be about as hard for you as reading any text is for me:

dyslectic

What’s it say? Can you tell?

It reads “This is how a written sentence looks to me, especially when I’m tired”. Being tired and reading don’t go well together at all.

Writing is just as challenging: Wihout the spalltchekre leting me knom whith red sigsag or otocorket what si wrog, this is hou itsreed. It’s like my own little language. That’s why I always let my mom look over everything I post here (or better yet dictate it) and write only very slowly by hand to make sure everything is spelled correctly, because I’d hate it if people thought I was stupid.

I spent too much time thinking that about myself anyway. I was a poor student back before I dropped out of school and it was in part because of the psychological problems I was having and in part because of the dyslexia. My teachers never realized I was dyslexic because I didn’t perform well enough in any area to make them think my reading and writing was poorer than my other skills, so instead they assumed I had learning difficulties and poor intellectual abilities in general. So that’s what I grew up thinking about myself.

The thing is I don’t. I have come to realize that my intellectual abilities are just fine. So that’s a good thing. But even so I’m self conscious. It really sucks that my brain does not comply in a way that lets me read well. But what else is new. My brain does not comply in a lot of ways. Anyway, I don’t know if this post even has a point. I guess I’m just frustrated with my dyslexia at the moment because I want to read a book and it’s frustrating me to the point that I feel like tossing it in a corner and getting matches. So instead of doing that I come here for a rant.

Apart from reading I’m struggling with dissociation quite a bit at the moment. So maybe that’s making things worse. I don’t know. Anyway, thanks to my mom for typing, and thanks to you for reading, if you made it this far.

What annoying thing do you struggle with at the moment that makes you want to go arsonist on something?

Dissociative Recoil

So I finally finished writing the post about Experiences and Gene Expresssion after mom took pity and helped me comprehend the matter. I looked forward to that, because I had prepared for the post for days now. I thought I’d feel good after I finished putting my thoughts into words and proud of myself and all that. And what happened instead?

Ever since hitting the submit button I dissociate like crazy. I can feel my attention drifting away literally ALL the time, as I detach from reality. I don’t hear it when I’m being spoken to. If I’m lucky I get a faint, vague echo in my head that tells me someone could have said anything, but it’s way after they are done speaking already, and of course I have no idea what has been said. I also stare off into space and just stay like that until I notice and make an effort to focus back on reality, but right after I did that, I feel the same pull towards staring again.

That sucks so bad. I mean okay, staying focused and writing that post was a bit exhausting, but goddamnit, can’t I do something exhausting and be OKAY??? That sucks so bad I feel like crying . 😦 I want to be in control of whether I dissociate or not, but no, I get this massive dissociative recoil and have no say in the matter. Either I’m gonna cry or I’m gonna scream, it’s so terribly frustrating!!!

Taking it easy today

Yesterday was a tough day, with all the thinking and writing about my sexual healing journey. I am okay, but I noticed I need to be careful when I ended up dissociating later in the day.

If you want a rather unusual glimpse at what can happen when I dissociate, here’s some dissociation art. I had just planned to draw a zentangle to calm down and focus, and it worked for the snail shell. Then I started with the little hearts. And kept drawing. And drawing. And drawing . . .

Dissociation Art

Pretty impressive. So today I’m going to take it easy. Focus on some good things. See if later I feel up to some journeying, but if not, I won’t and will rather wait another day. We’ll see. I really want to keep it positive and all that.

I hope you’re all having a good day today.

Ideas for Dealing With Dissociative Symptoms – What Helps Me and What Doesn’t

Dissociation1

Dissociative Symptoms are something I am continually struggling with. For me they most frequently include

  • emotionally disengaging from situations – I am present and notice what’s going on, can talk or do something, but I have no emotional response other than “whatever” about anything. Or, if it’s more extreme, I feel not even “whatever”, but absolutely numb, like a robot just reacting mechanically when prompted in the way it’s been programmed to. When the disengagement is more extreme, I still kind of notice what’s going on, but my talking or other reactions slow down or stop altogether.
  • staring off into space – I am losing track of whatever I am doing and just stare. Sometimes it’s conscious and I know I’m doing it, but can’t look away from that invisible point or I don’t want to stop staring. Other times I’m not aware of doing it while I’m doing it, kind of like you are not usually aware of being asleep while you are asleep.
  • feeling disconnected from myself – I stop being convinced that my body really belongs to me, that I am really me, that this is my voice I am hearing, or that it is even me doing the speaking.
  • daydreaming – I am away in my mind, entertaining thoughts of whatever. It’s similar to the staring. Sometimes I am aware that I am daydreaming but can not or do not want to stop it, other times I am unaware that it’s happening.
  • partially disconnecting with the world around me – I am notorious for temporarily losing my senses, like genuinely not hearing someone when they talk to me, not seeing something I should be seeing, etc. It happens especially often when I get only one single sensory cue. For example I will be more likely to hear what my mom says if I can see her talking to me, too. But if she’s outside my field of vision and hearing is the only source of telling that something is even going on, I often don’t hear anything.
  • forgetting things right after they happened – I am equally notorious for this one. It happens all the time that my mom tells me I that I had just answered her, but I have no memory of having said anything or what we were even talking about. Or that I look down at my hands holding something and I have no idea I ever picked that up or why I did and what I wanted to do with it. Often I find myself in some place around the house and have no idea why I went there. For example mom sends me to get the mail and tell her okay, and then I suddenly find myself at the door and have no idea why I am at the door, if it was for a certain reason, or how I even got there and certainly no memory of having talked about getting the mail.
  • blank spells – I lose entire chunks of memory at once. I have blank spells for most of my childhood abuse, but also perfectly ordinary seeming things. For example I just discovered that I have next to no memory of the day I went hiking in the mountains with my family last summer. Nothing obviously bad happened, mom says I seemed to have enjoyed the trip, there are pictures of smiling me in hiking clothes on the mountain, but while I have a vague sense that yes, it could have happened, I lost the memory.

Dealing with those dissociative symptoms is an ongoing challenge. That’s why I thought I’d make a collection of my thoughts regarding what I find helpful and what doesn’t help me at all. Here goes. I’ll do the unhelpful ones first – they’re easier. 😉

 What I find UNHELPFUL in dealing with dissociation: DissociationN

  •  others trying to get me to “snap out of it” – I have had people touching me, shaking me, speaking loudly or even yelling at me and I found all of that extremely disturbing. Imagine someone letting a police siren blare right into your ear to rouse you from sleep. It stresses me, and feels like catastrophe is about to strike. So it’s a big bad fucking idea.
  • others becoming scared by it – I suppose it can look creepy, especially when I get an empty stare or my reactions slow down or stop altogether. I have had people get really nervous about it, unable to stand watching me be like this, and the more scared fuss they make, the more it feels safe to stay the heck away.
  • others getting mad and acting like I do it on purpose – I can’t count the times when people have been upset with me over not having heard something, forgetting things or not giving them the reaction they desire. I can’t count the times I have been told to “get my act together” and stop acting dumb/silly/whatever. It’s not helpful. I often have no control over it and getting mad at me for something I can’t control is stupid. How would you feel if someone got repeatedly mad at you because your hair is too short for their liking? I can understand that it’s annoying to deal with me dissociating, but getting mad at me for it, for something I can’t just change, is not going to help.
  • punishing me for dissociating – I have had people tell me “tough shit” or “forget it” when I had no memory of something that had happened, probably thinking that if they didn’t indulge in enlightening me or something I’d pay better attention next time. Not working. Again, it’s not something I do on purpose.
  • getting left alone with good advice – A lot of the time I was taught a technique (counting things, naming x number of things I could perceive with my various senses, giving my senses strong input…)  and then told to use it and that’s it. But it’s not that easy. Having a tool is good, but being left alone with operating it is a bit much.
  • making me stay in distressing situations – often I dissociate more severely in response to something stressful. I have had my share of people thinking I should “brave it”, thinking it would desensitize me and help me see that the situation is not threatening or something, but instead of doing that it only reinforces that staying dissociated is needed in order to stay safe.
  • beating myself up over dissociating – I used to get angry at myself or disappointed or discouraged over dissociating. Suffice it to say that that’s not helpful at all.

What I find HELPFUL in dealing with dissociation:DissociationY

  • present, calm and no-fuss reactions – dissociation might have become a habitual reaction and can happen without any obvious current outside stress, but it is a stress reaction nonetheless. The calmer and safer my environment, the easier it is to get out of it.
  • patience and understanding – I know it’s annoying when I dissociate in inconvenient moments, when others need to tell me the same things again because I didn’t hear it the first time(s) around, when I can’t remember something that just happened or when I become absent in situations where you’d rather I stay present. It’s annoying for me, too, and I am working on dissociating less frequently. It’s helpful when I meet patience and the understanding that this is a hard task.
  • being made aware in a respectful way – I am often not aware I am dissociating, and getting asked “honey, are you listening to me?” or “Are your feelings there?” can help. In the same way it helps if someone notifies me of dissociative behavior. A simple: “You are staring into space. Are you okay?” or “Can you look at me, so I can see if you are registering what we talk about?” can make a difference.
  • gentle orientation – when I am more severely out of touch with the world and try to come back, I often have trouble getting my facts straight. What reality do I go back to? In my case there’s often a certain insecurity about where I am, how old I am, who I am with etc. In those cases getting casually told and affirmed of what reality I am seeing and returning back to helps.
  • help with applying helpful strategies – I can do the counting or naming sensory input or giving myself strong sensory input, but I can’t always do it on my own. Gentle prompts help.safety – if some situation stressed me into dissociation, I need to get away from that situation. I need to feel physically safe and emotionally safe.
  • engaging activities – sometimes the most helpful thing my mom does is engaging me in something fun, something energetic or something that is likely to elicit a positive emotional response. Music works well. When I am having a longer period of time when I repeatedly slip away from the here and now, she’ll often put on music for us to dance to, or suggest a game of playing tag, or anything else that helps me be more involved with what’s actually going on.
  • reassurance that someone wants me back – this one is very simple, but really helpful for me. My mom keeps on telling me that she wants me there with her, all of me. That she wants to have me back. I struggle with feeling wanted, so this makes a big difference, even when I can’t immediately react to it in the situation.
  • learning to read the internal signs – nobody can help me do that one, because it’s only about me using the cues I get from the outside to take notice of what’s going on inside when I am starting to dissociate, so that I get better at telling that it’s happening.
  • wanting to remain present – this one is also something I can only do on my own, obviously, but it’s very helpful. Actively fighting dissociation when I notice it, actively wanting to remain present, actively wanting to remain in touch with what I feel and being motivated to keep on working towards remaining present is one of THE most helpful things for me.
  • actively creating safety – this is an important and very effective one for me. Noticing what’s going on and wanting to remain present are good and well, but I need to feel safe in the situation I want to remain present in as well. For me creating safety often means to seek out mom. Or it means to talk to her about something that is bothering me. Or it means to remove something that is bothering me. And of course looking for ways out of situations that are more than I can take.
  • becoming aware of and actively trying to hold on to feelings and to expand what I can take – this ties in a lot with safety. The safer I feel, the more I can consciously try to stay connected with what I am feeling and to tolerate the presence of the feeling.
  • keeping calm, being patient and tolerant of failure – this is the one I struggle most with. In trying I will obviously slip up and fail a lot and if I am not tolerant of that and of setbacks, I will not be getting anywhere. That one is so easy to write down and so hard to do. But I’m still trying, so I guess I’m still good.

Phew, long post, and that’s all for now. For all of you who are struggling with dissociation, I’ll be happy to hear what you find helpful or unhelpful for yourself!

🙂

Dissociation, emotional significance and why going through the motions is not enough

One thing I have come to appreciate so, so much is the power of emotional significance. I think it is the main reason why not a single therapy I attended before I came to live with my family did me much good. Thinking back on those years, I think I spend them in a state of near permanent dissociation. Which is the smart ass way of saying I was feeling numb and emotionally dead inside most of the time. In therapy, I listened, occasionally I was even willing to try and make sense of what we talked about, willing to try and get better, but nothing ever worked.

I did DBT. I learned about states of mind (wise mind, emotion mind, rational mind), emotional regulation and stress tolerance. I was taught “interpersonal effectiveness skills” (how fancy sounding). I learned “what” skills and “how” skills and whatnot. And didn’t improve. I did other therapies, too. In group settings. In one-to-one settings. Learned relaxation techniques. I don’t even remember all the stuff I did. And it doesn’t matter because I didn’t improve. After everything I tried I just felt like even more of a failure than before.

I think today I understand why. Because I only went through the motions. I tried to do what was asked of me, but nothing really reached me. Not on an emotional level. How could it have? I was not even emotionally there. I either felt like my feelings had been cut off – a painful, overwhelming inner emptiness – interspersed with triggered episodes that felt like a flood of emotion was pouring down on me like fiery rain, burning me up. Nothing in between. I went through the motions of therapy, but the feeling part of me wasn’t even there.

The feeling part of me only returned after I went to live with my family. Therapy never managed to retrieve it. I know the aim of good therapy is to make the people feel safe, but I never felt safe in therapy. I never felt safe with anyone. Not truly. And it took a long time until I felt safe with my mom – over a year. But as I started to feel safe, feelings returned. That in itself was enough to scare the shit out of me, but my mom helped keep it safe for me. Kept me safe. And suddenly stuff became meaningful.

Today I still dissociate easily. Ever so often I will just fade out. Most of the time I will keep on reacting, but I am disconnected. I don’t feel anything. I’m not aware of what’s going on in the same way. I have no emotional reactions whatsoever. I often don’t recall things, even if they happened only a moment ago. I kind of notice them when they happen, but then they fade. Or they don’t fade, but I feel indifferent towards them.

The difference is that today mom can tell whether I’m in a state of dissociation or not. She doesn’t ask me to learn new stuff when I’m not even fully there. When I’m not feeling anything, nothing is meaningful. Even when I go through the motions of doing something helpful, the new information doesn’t register where it is needed in the brain, because the emotional part is shut down. Some people say “fake it ‘till you make it”, but that doesn’t work for me. I used to fake it in therapy. I tried to follow the techniques that I learned, but they were empty, meaningless shells. Or I was the empty, meaningless shell. I don’t know.

When my emotional part is shut down, the only thing my mom focuses on is helping me get access to it again. Sometimes by making me feel physically safe by holding me, because that makes me feel safe. Sometimes by finding something that can penetrate the fog, like music or something she says to me or does. And sometimes by directing my attention at stuff. Or at dissociating itself. Helping me become aware of how “spacey” I am, so I can do my part to get out of it.

My plan for the future is that I want to try and be more aware of where I am at, emotionally, and to communicate it. It’s the first time I actually WANT to do that, instead of feeling indifferent towards it, and that makes a big difference. It is the very same skill that DBT tried to teach me, and I knew of its relevance, yet it was never relevant to me. Now it is. Because I can see in my mom’s face it’s meaningful to her. That makes it meaningful to me. Emotionally meaningful. I don’t just go through the motions anymore. Now it feels important and like it actually changes something. Yay for emotional significance.

C PTSD - A Way Out

A place to check in daily

The Serenity Game

Marriage- The Final Frontier- Humor is the Key

Creative Liar

Because the truth makes me cry.

ladyswan1221

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Simple Pleasures

Visual Poetry, Photography and Quotes

scienerf

So many MonSters so little time

silence of silence

i took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: i am, i am, i am.

We're All Mad Inhere

Life as it is: Surviving Insanity

Raison d'etre

There must be more than one...

Cupcakes and Anguish

Ramblings of a crazy creative ninja

firefliesandfairies

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Love—Life—OM

Support for survivors of domestic violence, rape and fraud

Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

Tackling BPD

My story of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, depression and anxiety through self-help. How I learned to like myself and live a happier life.

The Bottom of a Bottle

Trust me, I've been there, I've looked, I've searched and I know now, that there are no answers to be found in the bottom of a bottle or on the edge of a blade! Fighting Hard, Recovering, Rebuilding, REBORN. Moving on from addiction to a new life.