Degrees of Dissociation

Hollywood taught me dissociative identity disorder is like Sybil. This post is to share my symptoms, and to educate anyone else that was confused about the subject. I know I have a dissociative disorder but it isn’t the differing personalities commonly shown in Hollywood. 


piZap far away place I put myself

To survive trauma at this young age, I had to “go somewhere else” far, far away…

PiZap terrified

throughout my life, you would see an empty, far away face… just existing and not living…


dissoc surviv quote excell

did from birth explainde

an excellent illustration of dissociative development from childhood trauma…

In my situation, now knowing & looking back, my coping like I said was to go far away deep inside myself to hide and survive… it feels like I live in a glass box unable to connect with the real world as though I am far away watching myself in a movie… I see myself in the mirror and in photographs but it doesn’t feel real… I look familiar, I know it its me, but I don’t feel any real sense of self… I feel extremely detached…

In my late twenties I became aware of the little girl inside that needed desperate healing and integration into myself… I had other parts of me that were frozen in time, fragmented from myself, that had surfaced also needing healing and integration. So in my dissociation, it isn’t distinct personalities (alters) that are all living at the same time and time goes by and I don’t know where I was and it is so extreme that each one has a different name and style of living…like in the movies… I know it does happen in real life, don’t get me wrong… my point is, it isn’t fair to the many that have what I have to not feel like it can be acknowledged because its known for the extreme version… the not being understood… how much of my own research I had to do to make sense of myself…

I also had blocked out much of my past… that was part of the amnesia aspect with a heavy load of what I call emotional amnesia present, too… I knew people in my life but its like the me that knew them was gone and a twin of me stepped in pretending to be me… felt no emotional connection… could not reminisce over memories and times we’d had… much less remember some of them… but I had the factual knowledge of who they were related to me… Now I’ve had emotional flashbacks where it floods back, like I was asleep all those years in a stuper, sleepwalking… and awakened with raw emotions but in a displaced time… (esp. for those that have died and I felt nothing and years later it is triggered mostly by an intense dream and it all come out…)

Another way I found out I dissociate is the ages of me that were frozen began to thaw and come out… (reminds me of the sci fi movies that they are put to sleep or frozen for decades and then wake up… ~seen tv show Alcatraz?)

I wasn’t aware of it at the time until the last year or so… how I would switch to a younger version of me… My husband could tell I was different but not most people… only keen ones… I had a supervisor that “saw” it… I was so triggered at my job, it brought out a different part of me -age of me- that she knew I wasn’t who I was when I started there… but its very subtle…  Another very embarassing example is when the little girl starved for love and attention comes up… looking back, others have said I was flirting which left me very confused they’d accuse me of that… now I realize being able to see my life from a birds eye view (couldn’t do that til recently, so much was kept compartmentalized) how it appeared that way!  -I grew up with dad and older brothers that I felt accepted by than my sister and mom… I’d unknowingly become that little girl again with men that felt safe… you can see what problems that would cause…

So as I grew up, parts of me at different ages would fragment… and it sounds crazy how real the age entities are and need to be integrated back into your core… that is how my system worked…

I have to keep reading the difference between depersonalization and derealization. My biggest symptom is the detachment – feeling unreal to myself… years ago I couldn’t even do deep breathing without feeling panic anxiety… now with regard to mindfulness I still struggle, big-time…

Imagine childhood trauma where you leave your body to survive… and your whole life you were stuck… like floating outside yourself… and now you try to be mindful and I tried to really look at and feel my arm, for example…  … and at this point in time, I cannot deal with it… it freaks me out… it sounds crazy! but not really when you have it in the perspective of my trauma and survival… It is so sad to not be able to own my own skin… I know I will get there if I can do deep breathing now… Gotta look back at your progress when you feel hopeless!

I am also hypervigilant… unable to relax… my body is in a chronic state of tension. I want so bad for it to unlearn it… even at a massage I can’t “let go” I assist the person in lifting my arm…they tell me let loose and I can’t! If you’ve ever struggled with this and have tips – please let me know! Actually my husband will notice me on the couch watching tv with him, and say stop tensing… My body sometimes responds to his command! Maybe I need to make an audio track of him saying it…

The PTSD I feel so traumatized not only of the abuse as a child but in my twenties when life was great friends, great job, great car, great boyfriend, great college life… best years I ever had growing up until we had the family session saying there was abuse, don’t go upnorth anymore, its not safe… and my life turned upside down… Even self talk of I am safe now, my life won’t fall apart like that again… and even if it did I can handle it this time around… and I have God this time… the self talk doesn’t seem to do a thing…

So these are the degrees of the dissociation I have… and I also found these helpful charts below…


5 components dissociative disorderdissoc guide dsm

dissociative disorder chart




spectrum of dissoc

~edit~  I thought of another thing I have become more aware of… in situations that become overwhelming to me and I’m going to shut down emotionally/socially… I can feel myself fading away. Its hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. If I go back to my hometown and family to visit, it happens so quickly I can only see it in hindsight. But to be able to even reflect and see what happens is amazing progress.

When we were at my in-laws for Christmas and my husband’s ex decided to come with her husband so they’d bring my husband’s son… THAT was crazy for me, though no one else thought so? really? and then (realize we’ve never gotten together like this in our ten yrs of marriage… things were left estrange for a few years as far as his ex and son… there were things going on) yet the ex-wife is talking the whole day, monopolizing all conversation… being chummy with my mother-in-law (which triggered me in that I have been trying to get closer to her and cannot) Anyway, the whole day was crazy for me and confusing and triggering… I had taken a pill before I left and it helped for an hour or two but after it wore off, I shut down. I just sat on the couch trying to endure the day… but the thing I wanted to share was how it gets where I am not aware of anything around me. I couldn’t tell you what anyone said… I was frozen there… (oh, I did go for a walk before that happened to cry and be alone but it was too late, I was so overwhelmed, I wish I’d told my husband to just to drop me off at home… hadn’t thought of that simple solution…) He was busy visiting with his son, so I didn’t have him this time for support.

I haven’t been back to my hometown and family to visit because I know I won’t be able to stay “present”… There is too much going on inside me… I miss everyone but know I will fade away until I am able to cope better with things. Trigger & hide; Hide deep inside… 


About kpaol

Hi! I love God, my husband, my kitty, photography & photoshop, blogging, & my wordpress community :)
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4 Responses to Degrees of Dissociation

  1. I relate to so much of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This bought something up for me… that i had not realized I was doing ! Thank you.
    I glad I woke up at 430am and this was here for me to read. Thank you writing and sharing your experiences 😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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