Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recovery - Day 1

As you might expect, the first day wasn't too eventful. Because I've been here before I found myself looking for all my old friends from the last treatment program, and of course, they weren't here, sadly.

So, check-in 9AM, go to my room, unpack, spend an hour answering questions for the nurse, unpack some more, go to lunch, fill out more paper work about my family's history of mental illness, and there is a lot, state how I cope or react in certain situations, and if I could improve anything here at the hospital what would it be? FOCUS!!! If I could only focus long enough, I might not forget my keys every time I lay them down, or I might actually complete one of the three tasks I had on my list of "things to do today", and I might actually feel good about myself for having accomplished something! Filling out those papers took another hour and a half.

Now I'm waiting for my doctor to come and "assess" my situation and needs. In the meantime, I lie on my bed and begin to read through the 58 page booklet they gave me. Some interesting stuff in it, some of which I mentioned in my last post, but with much more explanation. "Dissociation" catches my eye, it's a classic symptom of PTSD, but one I never really understood. Basically, it's a coping mechanism used, especially in repeated trauma such as child abuse, and " simply described, dissociation is an experience of going away in one's mind". It's a way of coping where the brain automatically goes to because of the repetetive nature of the trauma. Unfortunately, it becomes a habit and never stops in many cases, even after the trauma has stopped.

My doctor arrives, and again, lots more questions. I asked her "how long you can someone dissociate for? What length of time? " She said anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.... what?!! So I describe to her what I think might be my personal experience of dissociation. I'm leaving the grocery store, as I pull out of the parking lot, I remind myself to pick my daughter up before I go home. Next thing I know, I'm pulling into my driveway WITHOUT my daughter, and I don't remember a thing after pulling out of the parking lot, I don't remember any of the drive!! She said that's a classic example. Then other examples begin to come to mind.... walking somewhere in my house, on a sidewalk, and stopping dead in my tracks for a minute or two for no apparent reason, then continuing to walk now trying to remember where I was going. Pulling up to a stop light and when the light turns green, I don't know which way to turn because I dissociated while waiting for the light to change and now I don't know where I'm going! Sitting staring at the wall for thirty minutes or so thinking it was only a couple of minutes! Listening to someone talk for five minutes and not remembering a word he or she said! " This method of coping becomes automatic and often uncontrollable and has severe consequences for managing the demands of everyday relationships, work and self-care."No kidding!! Then she asked me how often I dissociate? Everyday. Several times a day. No wonder the to do list keeps getting so long!

Everyone dissociates a little, daydreaming, watching tv to unwind, crashing on the couch after a hard day, but when it is unintentional and frequent, well you can see the problem.

So uneventful, yes, but I did learn something. Now I just need to learn how to stop doing it!!

These sites have more info and are the sources for the direct quotations in this post.

1 comment:

  1. I'm no psychologist, but I'm going to take a stab here... have you ever tried not fighting against the dissociation?
    I'm suggesting that the next time you have these blank spots, instead of trying hard to remember what you've been doing or what you meant to do, why don't you just stop, and let yourself do nothing? Or do something you actually want to do at the moment?
    Maybe your body is trying to bring your attention away from those daily tasks and into your inner being... it's just a thought...



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