What It’s Like To Disassociate

There is very little known about this mental health experience and issue. Everyone is familiar with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, but disassociation is a little lesser known aspect of mental health. It kinda links up with the other three problems but is it’s own issue.

Disassociation is defined as a state in which some integrated part of a person’s life becomes separated from the rest of the personality and functions independently.

I also like Mayo Clinic’s definition:

Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

I have had some of the symptoms that Mayo Clinic describes including:

• A sense of being detached from yourself and your emotions
• A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal
• Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress
• Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

It’s known to be more of a coping mechanism that’s used when someone goes through something traumatic, but if left to linger can have lasting effects on the personality.

I first disassociated when I had achalasia, a crippling esophageal disorder that took 4 years to diagnose. It was such a hard thing to go through as a child. I remember just separating that part of my life from who I was as a person. I’d hide it from other people, lie if someone asked about it. It was literally a part of my life that I never wanted to acknowledge. Being sick wasn’t who I was as a person, it was just something I was going through. So separating that aspect of my life from who I was as a person made sense.

It was the longest charade but I refused to let my disease define me. During my worst years, I truly believed that my life wasn’t really my life.

It was an escape mechanism; the ego is a frail thing and in some ways that’s good and bad. I’ll acknowledge that it did help me mentally to disassociate. I truly believe it helped me to keep my sanity and mental health together. But I learned how to disassociate so well, it kinda never left, even after I got better from my surgery for achalasia.
I continue having issues connecting with people. In my social interactions, I can’t just flow the way other people do. I can’t be spontaneous. There’s still a part of me that disassociates and looks at the interaction from a third party experience-from the outside looking in. I’ll subconsciously try to see how the other person feels or thinks about me, in order to try to “socialize better.” It causes me to seem distant. It’s like I stepped out of the situation and am trying to look at it from a third party perspective instead of just looking at it from my own perspective and socializing that way.

I know, it sounds crazy just trying to write about it.

Anxiety also triggers my disassociative behavior, it makes it 100x worst. I’ll just shut down, and try to pretend I’m not even there. That’s my coping mechanism.

I think a lot of people struggle with dissociative behavior and don’t even know it. Like the guy that pulls away every time he gets too close in a relationship or the soldier who came back from war and doesn’t connect with his family the way he used to or even the guy who plays video games all day and starts to find his online relationships more rewarding than the ones in real life.

Overall, it doesn’t effect my behavior too badly other than make me feel a bit distant. It hasn’t gotten to a point where I feel I need professional help but I am interested to find out what causes it.

Personally, I think it’s an ego thing. Something we do to protect our sense of self when we feel threatened. When I’m in a fight or flight triggered anxiety episode, I usually choose flight. I think a lot of people struggle with this kind of mental block and they don’t even know what it’s called.

So far, I’ve found that removing myself from the situation that caused my disassociative behavior helps. As well as calming camomile or valerian root teas. After I’ve managed to clear my head, I can return to the task that triggered me.
I also don’t kick myself over being a little more reserved or distant from other people. Disassociation is just part of who I am because of the things that have happened in my past, just like my anxiety.

But there are more serious versions of disassociative disorders that can cause amnesia or even a complete shift in personality. If this is happening to you or if you have thoughts of suicide, please contact your mental health professional immediately.

Though it’s lesser known, understanding how disassociative behavior affects your mental health is important to keeping it together, at least mentally.

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Why Integrity Matters

As I get older, The idea of living a life of integrity is starting to fade. I miss being “green” and wanting to do the right thing all the time.

But I know that that’s not how the world works. Why is that? Because of greed, selfishness and ego. This is what drives our world.

Integrity, according to Webster Dictionary, means a firm adherence to an exceptional code of moral or artistic values.

As a child I was always concerned about doing the right thing, making sure everyone got their fair share. But even then, I noticed the lack of fairness and integrity in my fellow students, teachers and other adults. I saw the most talented athletes get chosen first for sports teams at gym and given the most floor time. Students that wanted to participate were left to the sidelines. And I’m not even talking about organized school sports. Teachers spent the most time with students who were already very smart, had tutoring and helicopter parents to support their performance. So children who had less were expected to produce more to keep up.

I always thought adulthood would be a lot easier when dealing with moral problems. I thought people are honest. Naively, I wondered why would adults lie? I had thought that my fellow students were opportunistic liars and cheaters because they were immature. But the reality is that these children would grow up to be adults who continued to lack important characteristics like honesty, integrity and virtue. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has a ring of truth.

The childhood version of me imagined that I would grow into an adult that was confident, sure, honest and willing to fight for what’s right but now I’m not sure I’ll ever be those things. Some days I can feel myself shrinking, barraged by the screams of people playing politics and those fighting for themselves.

From the time I was 20-25 years old, I was very optimistic. Truly believing that the world would sort itself out and that what’s right will prevail, but that’s not necessarily the truth. It feels like the older I get, the more “woke” I am about how things work.

I’ve been burned a few times. I’ve written a few posts on that.

The Horror of Dealing With Mold In My Apartment

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

From friends to work to even my landlord now. They’ve all burned me. When it comes to benefits, money and status, a sense of doing what’s right goes out the window.

I came to realize that there are people who will only interact with you when it benefits them financially, politically or socially. It was a hard pill to swallow, to realize that there were a lot of people who were disingenuous.

But I grew up.

And sometimes when I’m looking at a situation, I now think how can I profit from this, how can I benefit? I hate to admit it but I’m becoming one of those people who are selfish, egoistic and greedy. It’s almost like I can’t help it. Intrusive thoughts enter my mind like, if you don’t take advantage, someone else will or you have to take your share of the pie.

I’m ashamed because deep down I know these thoughts are wrong. I’ve grown to distrust other people to the point that I’m becoming untrustworthy and I hate that.

Am I growing up and becoming less naive? Or am I becoming jaded and callous?

If the young and optimistic version of me met 30 year old me today what would she say? She’d say I’m becoming everything she hates about this world and that I’ve given up. But fighting to keep my integrity and resolve to be an upright, unselfish human being sometimes feels like swimming against an impossible current.

I can count on my one hand the amount of people outside of my family who I respect for their character. Everyone else would easily resort to dishonesty if they knew they could benefit from it.

Maybe that’s why I have no friends… I just can’t accept a friendship that’s false.

So what to do?

I still think that being a good person is important. I want to hold on to that childish hope that as a human being we can care for the good of others without gaining anything for ourselves. Without even a few good people in our society, we’d be living in a literal hell where society is built on bullshit, lies, deception and selfishness.

The truth is I’ve met people with integrity and I hope others can look at me and see that I aim to be a person of good character as well.

So hopefully the child I knew isn’t as disappointed as I feel in myself sometimes. As I aim to be a person who’s better at standing up for what’s good and right for its own sake, I need to learn to not have such high expectations of other people.

Integrity and character matters because at the end of the day that’s all we have.

Check out my other posts

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What It’s Like to Marry Your Soulmate

I’m thirty, and I’ve known my husband since I was 18. He’s the love of my life and my soulmate.

We had met the third day of our freshman year in college. My husband (K) had been in orientation with my roommate, and he invited us out to hit the city and go to this place that allowed japanese sake for the underage college crowd. Of course, I decided I wanted to wear these new pointy toed shoes that I’ve never worn before. I think I bought them from some discount fashion store. Well, halfway through the night, my feet are blistering at the heel and the shoes are feeling too small. K offered to give me a piggyback ride after all my suffering and complaining. I thought it was so sweet and from that moment on we were inseparable.

How do I know my husband is my soulmate?

Now that I’m trying to put this in writing I realize it’s hard to conceptualize but I just can’t imagine my life without him. And if I did have to live without him, I’d probably live alone because, in my heart and soul, I know there’s no one else who will love me like he does. Our relationship is special and not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for it.

This is what our relationship is like:

Sometimes we fight

But not very often. We both have flaws but the problem is we’re both comfortable living with our flaws. When we fight, it’s always one of us calling each other out for piss poor behavior. Even our fights I can appreciate because it helps us grow and get over the habits that hold us back. Without the love of my life, I would be stagnant.

Some people fight on the regular, constantly tearing each other apart for being themselves. It’s amazing for me to be with my soulmate who appreciates me for who I am but also calls me out when I’m being crappy.

We end every phone conversation with “Love you.”

This sounds really sappy but we still let each other know that we love one another. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and forget to show affection. We can’t be apart even a day without checking in on each other, seeing how each other’s day went and saying “Love you.” Just hearing someone reaffirm those words to you can change your whole mood and make your day better.

I can see our future of bad times and I’m not scared

The honeymoon phases is said to be the best period in a relationship, when everything is new, exciting and overly romantic. But for K and I, that period came and went a long time ago. Now we’re a couple caught in the routine of life and day to day errands.

The material aspect of our lives doesn’t matter as long as we have each other. We lived with nothing when we were 23-26 and yet I look back at that challenging time with love because even though things were hard we still found ways to have a good time.

Looking forward, I see us getting older, dealing with elderly and sick parents, watching our kids grow up and move out, and our own health scares. All these things are inevitable and sure to happen. And though they’re not necessarily happy things, I’m ok with it because we’ll go through it together.

We still have moments of laughter

You would think that after 12 years we’d run out of things to talk about, let alone laugh about, but we haven’t. Maybe K is just a funny guy but I know for a fact I’m not particularly funny, yet he finds things to laugh about with me. It’s nice. I personally think laughter is the glue that holds relationships together. Once you stop laughing, a relationship just starts to die. He still cracks jokes and I’ll poke fun at both of us.

The moments I remember more than anything are the happy and fun ones, the arguments and challenging times just fade away in my memory.

It’s not just sexual

After 12 years, sex is a little more routine. We have two kids and we have to find time when they’re either away or asleep to get it in and be intimate together. We also know exactly what the other person likes and aren’t selfish in our intimacy. There’s no beating around the bush or floundering to figure out what turns the each other on.

But sex isn’t the foundation of our relationship. So many relationships are based mainly on sex and what the other person has to offer sexually. The reality is that, in a long-term relationship or marriage, sex will wax and wane. Sometimes one person will be going through some stuff and not have much of a libido. Things like illnesses, work issues, family problems, pregnancy and a new child can affect libido. People who base their whole relationship on sex will see their relationship fall apart at the first hurdle.

As my soulmate, my husband doesn’t guilt trip me if there’s a dip in intimacy. Thankfully, he’s understanding. I don’t have to constantly worry that if I can’t have sex he’ll go somewhere else. Our relationship is based on much more than that.

We have things we love to do together

I’ve never understood why people stay together when they can’t find shared interests. To be honest, both K and my interests have changed over the years but we’ve always been able to share something together. Like a favorite show or a restaurant that we love. He entertains my fondness for street carnivals and visiting the rinky-dinky summer carnivals that visit our town. His interests seem to change like the flavor of the week but I’m good at being curious about them. It’s great to have something to bond over and share memories with. These memories will last a lifetime.

I feel at peace

Most of all, I feel a sense of comfort with my soulmate. Having someone who completely understands me is such a blessing. I don’t have to explain myself constantly, he already knows and understands my motivations. I know he’ll always have my back and that I’m not left to face this world alone. Everything we do, we do as a team, not as adversaries trying to one up one another. And I don’t have a sense of insecurity in my relationship because of everything we’ve been through and had to overcome. K is the love of my life and knowing that he will always be there for me has given me an immense sense of peace.

———————-

Overall our relationship has been through a lot. There have been ups and downs along the way and we’ve changed as individuals over the years. Meeting your soulmate doesn’t mean everything will be happy all the time, it does mean that they’ll be able to appreciate all that you offer and be able to complement you as a person. I would describe our relationship as a ying and yang dynamic and I know I’m blessed to be in such a harmonious relationship with the person I love.

I don’t know if there are multiple opportunities to meet your soulmate or whether are multiple people you can be soulmates with. But when you do meet that person, it would be a mistake to let them pass you by. For me, meeting the love of my life was a once in a lifetime experience and a life changing one too.

Check out my other posts!

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This is 30: Turning 30 Year’s Old

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I’ve been reflecting on my age. This year I turned 30 and was expecting some sort of wow moment but it hasn’t happened yet. I remember being 20 and looking towards my 30th birthday with distain. Wouldn’t that make me middle aged? But 30 definitely isn’t as bad as I would have thought. It’s kind of like being in your 20s but with more confidence, money and grace. There’ll be some things I would miss from my 20s, but 30s has been pretty awesome so far.

I definitely miss being young and flirty. Life got serious for me early when I had my first daughter at 24 and married; but I still enjoyed being carefree, managing to grow my career and being free to move around.

I’ve enjoyed the benefits of being considered conventionally attractive and now that I’m over 30, I definitely notice I’m not as much on the radar. I don’t really need to be as noticed anymore, as a mother and a wife, but you can’t help but miss the days when your whole future was ahead of you and possibilities seemed endless. I’m not someone chasing after my youth but keeping up my appearance was so much easier in my 20s. There was more free time to look after tweezing, waxing, and shaving; beautifying was generally easier. Nowadays, I can go weeks looking like Godzilla. I’ve also cut back on the makeup time. I used to blend, sculpt and contour every day and, goddamn, I was able to look extra flawless after 20 minutes of caking it on. At 30, with 2 kids in tow, I can barely manage to throw on mascara and lipstick.

I don’t miss being broke and unestablished though. That was the worst. For the longest, I could barely maintain a balance of $500 in my bank account. It was so stressful not knowing if I was ever going to make it. I spent years going into debt. Sometimes, I would imagine what my life would be if I had a job that was stable. I always imagined I’d have more in my life; a bigger apartment in a better location. But things aren’t too bad. I’m now more established in my career and could job hop to most comparable companies.

I recognize that the next 10-15 years I’ll be the most marketable based on my experience and age. Just trying to capitalize on that and make as much money as I can, while I can. Then I’ll probably get an masters or law degree if I feel I’m aging out of being competitive. Or I can start a whole second career; to be honest, real estate is starting to feel tired.

Compared to my 20s, the relationship side of my life is pretty stable. From 20 to 23 it was fun to date. Parties and meeting people seemed so exciting like I can meet the love of my life at any time. Nothing happened because I actually met the love of my life at 18, who I married at 24; but the idea that I wasn’t settled yet and living spontaneously was amazing.

I also hadn’t mastered the concept of “all in good moderation” when it came to drinking. I was drinking garbage $5 vodkas like Smirnoff and watered down wine coolers. 30 year old me would prefer Grey Goose and Cranberry or an aged wine.

Being 30 years old, parties are fun. I mean, not in the same way they were in my 20s, but I finally learned how to relax and just enjoy the moment, and that’s pretty amazing. I also learned how to small talk. I’m not socially awkward anymore and I no longer have high expectations that I’ll either be meeting my partner for life or my new best friend. I can just enjoy people as they are and that is a gift.

On the other hand, I don’t miss being naive and unexperienced about life. I spent a lot of time in my 20s not knowing how life works. I couldn’t accept that life was unfair and I wanted to correct it so badly. Questions like: why are there homeless people, why are people so greedy and selfish, and why does that guy ignore me but like her? Now I can accept the answers as they are: the world is complicated and imperfect, not all problems can be fixed and the world doesn’t revolve around me. The world’s darkness doesn’t disturb me like it once did. I guess I’ve gotten used to imperfection.

I have a good handle on what’s happening around me and feel confident that I have enough life experience to handle confrontations/disagreements at work and in my relationships. I used to feel like I didn’t have much to offer and constantly allowed others to walk all over me. I can stand up for myself better now. I’ve also learned how to let things go when they aren’t going my way and not to dwell on the negativity that other people bring. That’s a skillset I wouldn’t trade for anything.

For me, my 20s was about being independent, learning about myself, enjoying my youth and beauty, and trying to get established. My 30s are going to be about gaining security, growing in self-confidence, gaining perseverance and taking my life to the next level. Looking forward, I finally have the resources and experience I need to do those things. There are really no excuses. The next 10 years are going to determine whether I spend my 40s in a midlife crisis or whether my 40s will be the most exciting years of my life. But overall I feel like my best years are just ahead of me.

So this is 30. I’ve made it to the 30 club.

Check out my other posts:

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

How To Make A Change in Your Life

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: The Power Of Family

 

 

 

Tags: Life after 30 years old, 30 year old girl, important life lessons, over 30 years old, 20 years old, turning 30 year old woman, almost 30 years old, I am 30.

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

Stress at your job or feeling over worked concept.

This is my first post in a while. Thought I would just get back into it. I’ve been working at my “well paying” but toxic job. By toxic, I mean totally manipulative, cut throat, constantly changing and stressful toxic workplace. But luckily, I am on maternity leave until August. I’ve been there nearly 3 years and somehow managed to survive and out live several other employees.  Yet still I have days where the toxic work culture kicks me down and I feel totally lost on what to do.

I have survived 1 horrible bitchy manager only to be replaced by a slightly less horrible condescending, sexist manager. I survived 5 receptionists and countless weekend receptionists. I survived 1 assistant director. All these people gone and yet I remain.

For me my motivation for staying in this dead end job include the fact that I am paid well (for now), have good health insurance, have a decent schedule. And honestly, I would hate to quit and give in to the bullies. How would I feel knowing that I was run out of a perfectly good job because people are assholes?  It’s still worth staying even though I hate my job sometimes.

So here are my tips on staying sane and staying on your grind. Your job is definitely not perfect, but it’s still a job that puts food on the table.

1. Be Humble: Pride is the worst vice and when you start to think that you are better or more deserving of something ,that’s when resentment builds. Yes, know your worth. But if you’re in a position where you need to stay at your job, resentful feelings are really just  a waste of energy. I used to want justice for every slight or disagreement. But that desire for justice came from a place of pride, not a place of actual righteousness. Learn to recognize where you are being prideful and instead ask yourself how you can be humble. I like to be humble by telling myself I just need to focus on my own performance, my own objectives and my own motivation.

2. Focus on the positives: Understand your reason for being there. What are your financial goals? How do you plan to make the most of this experience? How does this add to your resume? Do you like this position in general, maybe there are aspects of it that you like? Focusing on these points will help make your job more bearable and less stressful. The effects of positive thinking are numerous. If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change how you think about it.

3. Care less: If you’re a type A personality this might be a hard one but recognize that you don’t have to love your job. Your job doesn’t even need to love you. All you need is just to do your job. Show up and get it done. Your job isn’t going to dry your tears when they lay you off or fire you. They’re not going to give you more time off than allowed when your going through a tough time. If they don’t care, why should you? I’ve spent too much time caring about a position that doesn’t give two sh*ts about me. I know this, yet my struggle lies in the desire to be acknowledged. Stop wanting that acknowledgement and you’ll start to feel the burden of stress lifted off your shoulders.

4. Build your own support network outside of work: Do not commiserate with coworkers. They can’t be trusted and it can be construed as spreading gossip. Friends, family, online network of strangers on Reddit or blogs going through the same thing…these can be a great base of support when you feel like just giving up in general and stressed from work. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly wasn’t built by one man. Being able to vent in a safe place is key and essential to your mental health.

5. Document, document, and document: some workplace bullying is illegal and discriminatory especially when it pertains to protected classes like age, sex, disability etc. The issue is that it’s not always clear up front whether you are being discriminated or not. So document everything. Make sure everything is in writing. If there is discrimination it will flush itself out as long as everything is documented and written.

6. Make an exit plan and stick to it: If your job is really messing with your mental health, the truth is you just can’t stay there. It’s ok to make plans to leave. How many times have I said “I’m going to find a way to quit,” and magically the job gets better and I decide to stay? This cycle has repeated itself so many times. But your mental health is NOT WORTH IT. Make plans to either find another job or build your own business.  Do something that will earn residual income or passive income so you can take a lesser paying job on top of that.  It might take a year, it might take 3 years but those years will pass you by faster than you think. Being perpetually miserable for a paycheck isn’t the answer so find a way to break the cycle and commit to your exit plan.

Overall, employment takes an average of 2080 hours per year. But that still leaves 6680 hours in a year to get stuff done and pursue your passion. Work isn’t the end all be all and if you get fired or if you quit, your identity won’t be lost. We are not what we do for a living.

My husband always tells me this when I stress out, “They don’t pay you enough to stress like this.” And he’s right, they definitely don’t. I’m not an executive or a director. Why should I be stressing the way they would about their jobs?

To sum up this blog post, working in a toxic environment is tough, probably tougher than working in a physically demanding environment. But finding ways to cope in a stressful job when you have no other options is essential to your wellbeing and mental health.  Workplace stress is not worth it.  Work, work, work and all stress would drive anybody crazy.

Check out my other posts!!

Office Politics: Win At The Workplace

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

My Job is Killing Me….