What Can Dissociation Look Like? Terri’s story

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

Reflected AbstractionHer typically wandering emotions halt, paralyzed in fear of the truth. Breathing had once been easier, hadn’t it? Forcing air to her lungs, she wonders why she is trying.

It’s ridiculous to let this get to me, she thinks as her mind edges back to the safety of denial. It doesn’t work this time; truth is staring her down. She’s been betrayed by the love of her life.

Rising from her chair, movement seems strained as if she is blocked somehow. Nothing hinders her physically; the surrounding haze is as thick as a brick wall and more impenetrable. This is part of her depression disorder, although anyone might feel this way under these circumstances. 

Walking toward the kitchen intending to finish washing the dishes, her eyes are captured by light streaming through a window. She stands, staring, as if waiting for a bird or perhaps a talking tree to assure her she will be okay. Honestly, she doubts she would believe even them.

He threw me away.

Her thoughts are the betrayers now as they argue. You did this. This is your fault. If you were a better wife, a more desirable woman, a stronger person…

No, he used me. I’ve been nothing to him…

You are a fool to think that matters. Your job is to smile and love ‘til death, and if you did your marriage would work!

No!  God knows I tried. He understands betrayal…

That woman on the phone is right. You are unforgiving, hard-hearted, and disobedient to God.

Finally, I think I have the courage to leave the dumpster and be who I am created to be!

You’re a fool!

I know. Her head drops and shoulders stoop as she gives in to old pangs of false guilt. Pain stabs inside her abdomen. Exhaustion leads her back to her seat and she slumps into her chair. Once again, her mind freezes as her emotions shut down. She hates feeling; it is too excruciating. Life is full of conflicting sensations and thought wars. Maybe if she would just disappear…

With that she leaves the room, her situation, and reality. If anyone asks her where she is, the question will go unanswered as she doesn’t know and doesn’t care. The haze hugs her tight, squeezing her into oblivion.


*Dissociation (not dissociative disorder) is a common means of taking an emotional vacation, a rest. It is similar to having your mind wander because you are bored. You can return from that daydream and actually not remember what happened during your daydreaming.  With a dissociative disorder, a person may watch real life as if outside their own body, play the actor, and/or “lose” periods of time.  It is important to remember that diagnosis follows observation of clusters of symptoms, their intensity, duration, and level of distress they cause. If this is an invasive part of your life, seek professional counsel.  Here is more information: https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-understanding-dissociative-disorders/3/


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline     1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours

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