Updated: Jan 3
Like many people, I dissociated at the beginning of the Covid 19 Pandemic, but didn't know what was happening, or that I'd ever done it before many times and in many ways. I knew it was formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder and what we all saw in the movies was not representative of the condition, but really no more. I wasn't feeling like myself and told my boyfriend at the time, and I didn't understand the strange things had been happening to me beginning around 2018 and increasingly in early-to-mid 2020.
Knowing I needed to get back into therapy, I contacted Naropa Community Counseling Center, where I'd worked with an intern in 2017 upon arriving in Boulder, Colorado. It had been a great fit then, but after the intake interview, they informed me that the would not be able to meet my needs at this time and referred me to Mental Health Partners of Colorado, a nonprofit providing mental health services on a sliding scale, or free. I am so grateful for both of these institutions and the low-cost services they provide for our community. They helped me find me mind, because I certainly lost it.
Receiving the Dissociation Inventory
When a dissociation inventory arrived in my email as part of pre-therapy paperwork I was floored. For reference, this measures how often someone feels numb and disengaged, outside of their body, losing time, feeling like they are observing themselves go through the motions, having memory and identity disturbances, and functional neurological disturbances (seizures, chorea, tremors, catatonia, etc.) How in the world? Me? Dissociative?!?
In January 2020, the "too expensive" therapist I had told me that some of my parts were stuck when in I went in for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), which is supposed to be amazing. She wanted to do some prep work using Internal Family Systems, which I love and ended up developing a songwriting process around. IFS was developed in working with people with eating disorders who said things like "part of me wants to... and another part wants to..." We all have parts, and we all have stuck parts, they are called exiles in IFS.
We all have parts and some get stuck, but the gravity of the situation was too much for me. I don't remember my score, but it was probably pretty high at that point. So, I called my mom's friend and meditation teacher in east Texas and told her that I was dissociating to which she replied "WE ALL ARE, read the Yoga Sutras!"
Fluctuations of the Mind
There are many resources for translation and commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras online, and honestly I only got as far as stanza 1.4 before I felt much better. What I took from this ancient writing is that the mind becomes fragmented and if you don't work on understanding those broken pieces you will not be or know your SELF. Combined with my understanding that "The Body Keeps the Score" and holds trauma, this made sense but was no less intimidating.
I thought I'd lost my mind...
but instead, I found it. I did some research, and found out that dissociative symptoms are a neurological memory disorder that develops in early childhood when something happens that is too overwhelming and the brain files that shit in the dead letter office.
Now that I've had some time to wrap my mind around some of the facts and gain some healing and perspective, I'd like to share my interests and musings on this and many other topics to spread awareness and acceptance of our dissociative minds.