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#201245 - 01/25/08 01:37 AM Am I "disassociating"?
blueshift Offline
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Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 1242
Loc: infinity
I got raped four years ago. I also was victimized as a child and have gone through therapy for the childhood abuse but have not yet managed to get into therapy for the rape four years ago. So you all will have to forgive me if I ask questions that would be better to ask a therapist, but any feedback you can give me anyway would be appreciated.

I keep having this thing happen to me where all of a sudden my mind just completely short circuits and goes blank. Then if I was talking to someone, I can't remember what I was talking about or if I was doing something I have to try to figure out where I was with it or what it was i was about to do next.

Then sometimes i just go catatonic and all of a sudden i realize i've been sitting there staring into space for fifteen minutes. Until recently i've just blamed it on all the maryjane i've smoked, but now i'm starting to realize that it happens more often when i'm dealing with my rape stuff. Does this sound like what is referred to as disassociating?

A few minutes ago someone asked me about something that happened just earlier today, and for about a minute i couldn't seem to remember anything about today. It's like my brain just shuts down and i can't focus on anything.

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#201248 - 01/25/08 01:52 AM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: blueshift]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
I don't know much about dissociation issues. I always understood that it rarely happened to someone after the age of 9 or 10. After that our coping skills for dealing with trauma is more sophisticated and the mind does not need to shut down or escape to that degree. I could very well be wrong though. It does sound like your mind is trying to process experiences and emotions that you are uncomfortable with looking at yet. A good therapist could help walk you throug that at a pace you can handle.
I would try to make an appointment with someone experienced in PTSD and sexual assult issues as soon as you can though.

Sorry I can not be more specific but I am truly saddened that you had that happen to you. I have been raped also but I managed to handle it with just me and God. You have lots of resources now that can help you though this.

Good luck guy and keep us posted.
Roger


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#201321 - 01/25/08 01:00 PM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: Freedom49]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
blueshift,

Yes, it sounds like you have been dissociating. This is a common reaction to abuse among survivors, and usually we will have learned it as boys, when it was a survival tool. When bad things start happening the boy "rescues" himself by checking out of the situation. What I did was to "go" to something on the wall that I was focusing on, and then from there I would make my way to a corner of the ceiling, where I could tell myself those terrible things weren't happening to me in the room below. That boy was someone else.

Once we learn that tactic as kids, we may well continue to use it in adulthood in various ways. If we feel pressurized or stressed we once again revert to what worked in the past and may simply "check out". I know now that I was doing that for years. My wife used to wave her hand in front of my face and tell me, "Earth calling Larry" lol. When I was in an earlier stage of recovery and felt VERY stressed or threatened, I would revert right back to Little Larry. I would speak of the abuse in the present tense and use childish vocabulary as well.

It's important that you not let this problem freak you out. First of all, EVERYONE dissociates from time to time; it's not uncommon at all. What survivors do is just a more intense version of it. The other thing to remember is that this isn't a sign that you are emotionally messed up. Look at this as a survival tool you learned as a boy, when you had almost no resources at all, no one to tell, and no real idea how to cope. So you did the best you could, by using your boyhood imagination, pretending an escape route into existence, and then using it. There is nothing abnormal or weird about this.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#201329 - 01/25/08 02:26 PM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: roadrunner]
blueshift Offline
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Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 1242
Loc: infinity
Thankyou. This is good to know. It is very disconcerting when it happens, but knowing what it is saves me the fear that i'm losing what's left of my mind. I remember my fifth grade teacher snapping her fingers in my face and telling me to wake up or something like that, and telling my mother about my "periodic excursions into unreality". No one had a clue what was really happening, and of course i just assumed it was all my fault like everything else. What an ugly time that was.

Anyway, i guess that's one more thing I can stop blaming myself for. Now i feel another coming on.

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#201339 - 01/25/08 03:07 PM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: blueshift]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
That sounds like my problems with dissociation. It has a lot of variations, and a spectrum of severity, from "everyone does that" (daydreaming), to spacing out, to really kind of more unusually stuff. Pretty common here I think.

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And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
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Paul Eluard

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#201346 - 01/25/08 04:25 PM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: LandOfShadow]
Paul1959 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/17/06
Posts: 525
Loc: NYC
Welcome to the club. I knew I did the typical dissociation thing when driving...like you get home, but don't remember the trip or driving it. But my T pointed out that I would diss in a therapy session. He assured me it was a perfectly acceptable coping skill and not to worry about it.
But it does get hard when you can't remember stuff - I thought I was scattered or ADD (which I am) but also dissed through the day when people were telling me things. I did it whenever I felt stress or felt pressure ...leading to feeling scared or overwhelmed. That drove me nuts. I could not remember simple instructions. sigh...
So, you are not alone....
Paul


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#201375 - 01/25/08 07:19 PM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: blueshift]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Originally Posted By: blueshift
Anyway, i guess that's one more thing I can stop blaming myself for. Now i feel another coming on.


There's nothing wrong with shedding the tears, bro. And the good news is that the "not my fault" list keeps getting longer and longer. ;\)

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#201445 - 01/26/08 02:00 AM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: blueshift]
Eric5 Offline
New Here

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 27
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
From what i understand, dissociation happens when experiencing something that resembles the trauma. You subconciously fight it away by removing yourself from the thought. I could be wrong, though


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#201454 - 01/26/08 03:18 AM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: Eric5]
frost Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/15/07
Posts: 1377
Loc: Eh?
For whatever it's worth, I just wanted to add to this thread that I think of dissociation as something everyone does, and as Larry points out, what survivors do is a more intense version thereof.

I also just wanted to add that, this more intense version is a symptom and not in itself a problem. Treat the problem [rape] and the symptoms will diminish. At least that's my personal experience and opinion. \:\)

Stay strong, it'll get better.
~Brian

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#201476 - 01/26/08 08:53 AM Re: Am I "disassociating"? [Re: frost]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Just to highlight something that Brian says:

Originally Posted By: frost
Treat the problem [rape] and the symptoms will diminish. At least that's my personal experience and opinion. \:\)


At first I felt very embarrassed and defeated when I heard that all the zoning out I had been doing for years was an abuse issue and not just a part of "absent-minded professor" syndrome. But my T did nothing about that in particular. As I made progress in general the dissociation became less of a problem.

I still do it occasionally, when I feel stressed and under pressure, but it sure does help me to accept the way things are when I know that dissociation doesn't mean I'm a basket case. It just means I haven't quite got to the point where I don't need this strategy anymore.

And that's okay.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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