Frozen: Acute and Longterm Dissociation

Stress and anxiety can petrify me, solidify me. I’m trapped in amber. Laying on the floor, hands idly moving, maybe I’m looking at something and I’ll keep looking. I won’t see but I’ll stare. Nothing around me is quantity. There is no mass. There’s no me. Objectality ceases as the freeze begins. There always has to be some animation in the jittering of my fingers or atoms, a trilling buzz of energy circuited in a chaotic cycle. I’m frozen, the world is too, nothing changes. 

Dissociation is necessary at times, other times useful, often though a hindrance. Our link to the world severs along with the connection we have with ourselves. I’m not present within my mind or body. Disorder related anxiety, where it’s ptsd, social or general anxiety, agoraphobia, etc, can punch your soul out. When undergoing trauma, dissociation is a saving grace to pull our consciousness from the suffering. Our minds are tucked away until we’re safer, but often the lasting effects cause lingering dissociation triggered by stimulus familiar to our trauma. We may even be dissociated for days, months, years, seemingly without cause. If the source isn’t identified and treatment sought, it can be a continuous struggle that becomes more difficult as time passes. I’ve spent the majority of my life battling depersonalization and derealization on a core level. 

Discovering skills to overcome acute dissociation is a straightforward task compared to the psychological disentanglement of long term dissociative tendencies. They can work their way into every aspect of your daily life and personality. The temporary freeze involved in a heightened emotional response can be treated much as one would a panic attack or flashback. Focusing attention to your senses and building a repertoire of grounding and mindfulness exercises can bring you back to reality, but if your baseline reality is disconnected too, you must determine ways to stabilize your core connection to the world. 

While drifting through the years, I couldn’t imagine any way I could come back. The distrust and disbelief in reality became my baseline truth. With this state of mind, there’s not much to fight for when experiencing an episode of PTSD or sensory overload. I’m frozen and the fossilized resin I’m trapped in, the amber freeze, is just an expected radical polymerization involved with a cyclic compound life. Detached indifference repeating failure to try, to fight to connect, I couldn’t break free. I’d built myself into a far larger crystallized prison than ever before. 

The want wasn’t there. I didn’t want to come back. Energy to address my deep rooted issues was hard to come by and under the weight of agoraphobia and bipolar depression, I was far more content to isolate myself and burrow in a nest of my untender making.

I thawed under the warmth of unconditional love, safety and security, an environment suitable for growing wants and hopes. I was cared for. There were no expectations or demands of me. Even if slow going, I did start to accidentally chip away at my resigned resinated being. In the beginning I distrusted what was offered, I was insecure and uncomfortable with the idea of no strings being attached. This was entirely different to all that I’d known, and by pure contrast I was forced to face certain facts. Reconciling how you’ve lived with how you want to live is a difficult task, to realize what stands in your way could potentially be broken down and removed from your path to happiness. It’s terrifying.

To reconnect with reality and by virtue, have something more to lose, is a horrifying and glorious choice to make. It doesn’t happen in an instant but the guidelines are out there if you seek them. Answers to questions will come slowly and painfully. Transcendence will come after goals are made.

I made the choice to work hard, to fight for my right to have something to lose, to invest my energy and thoughts to therapy and introspection, to cooperate with my doctors and balance a sustainable medication cocktail, and to fall in love and plan a future with my fiancé. 

Still, I become frozen quite often. Chronic disorders won’t dissolve but they sometimes break down like eroded rocks at the edge of sea, or soften like beach glass, but they won’t leave. I continue, as well, to work on processing my trauma and discovering new ways it’s affected and evolved my life. It’s worth it.

Each time I freeze or drift, it’s a little easier to come back when I have something I love coming back to.

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