thread about dissociation.
content warning: neglectful parenting, anger issues.

i try to make a point of talking about mental health openly, because i want to do my part to destigmatize mental health issues. i am not a professional, so none of this is medical advice.
but i want everyone to know that this is extremely common, and if you or a friend has frequent dissociative episodes, that person is not alone or broken or bad. they are just a body that, in this moment in time, behaves in this way.

maybe there are some things you can do to help
because we are cramming a largely uncharted biological landscape to tiny neatly labelled bins: what i mean by "dissociation" will not necessarily overlap with other people's experiences. and other people's experiences are just as valid as mine.
this thread is not about depression or OCD, but i have formally been diagnosed with major depression and with OCD.

something else slipped through the cracks, however, something i've largely had to discover on my own.

i have frequent dissociative episodes.
like a lot of children, i had a parent with an anger problem. my parent, thankfully, took it quite seriously and successfully went through anger management. but many years had already passed: enough for it to be a foundational shaping element in my life.
in adverse situations, one tends to develop survival strategies. mine was to be small, quiet, and undemanding. if you put energy into school, if you are always quietly drawing or inventing aliens or w/e in your room, no one will yell at you. not as often, anyway.
and in this situation, no one knew, or no one thought to ask, if i was experiencing dissociation.
it seems obvious to me in hindsight that i have always had periods of days, weeks, or months without a clear feeling of self, with diminished connection to physical needs, sometimes with an altered sense of body.
because this has never been formally diagnosed, it's been quite a process to try to understand what this is and what it means in the context of my life now. one lens i find immensely useful is viewing mental health as one state among many- one way your body can behave.
dissociation, like many other mental health conditions, is an illness only contextually. it is wrong only through a normative lens.

some may want more control over their dissociation, which is to be respected. wanting agency in your own body is healthy.
through the lens of the protestant work ethic, the health of the corporate body, neurodivergence is sickness.

* * * * *
you're a human being and you deserve respect and a system of self-esteem not based on externally imposed value systems.
again: if you are experiencing a mental health state you do not like, or which is a danger or a practical problem to you, you need to care for yourself. you have every right to dislike it or medicate or treat it away.

the point is that you get to decide what is healthy for you.
but for me, personally, dissociation isn't necessarily undesirable in all situations.

in general it's just a different way of being: not worse than non-dissociative, just different.
sensation can be incredibly different. in a certain sense i feel i slip out of a local an into a broader perceptive mode. i don't want to eat, or go to the bathroom. but when i'm dissociating i love to stare at plants, to watch birds overhead.

and... going to target? it's weird
i have had to practice learning to care for myself while i'm dissociating: i now consciously ask myself if i need to make food, care for plants, get exercise, etc..

time and homeostasis become strange and abstract. oh, i need water, i guess... when did i last drink water?
so i replace feeling thirsty, which i don't necessarily notice, with regular cognition based checks, and habits which provide regularity. i leave a water bottle on my desk while working, cook large pots of healthy soup, etc.
dissociative spells can be a very interesting, and different, landscape in terms of my relationship with art. i often find sitting and focusing (in a drifting way) for very long periods to come naturally.
i tend to hyperfixate on whatever is in front of me. for instance, i decided to write this, and in this emotional space i am no longer thinking about the project i was just working on. so i have to replace the missing self-reflection or time-connection with cognition.
i enjoy involved applied learning, or researching topics relevant to a project for long periods.
i often get a lot of programming done when i'm dissociating. an interesting thing happens: creative blocks are easier to navigate. on other days i may work myself up about doing a menu or w/e, but on dissociative days, i just sort of sit in it and move forward, one step at a time
looking back, i wonder how much of my propensity for pouring myself into art projects for long periods of time is due to frequent low level dissociation.
returning to our dead horse, productivity:
in a sense, this is not "less productive". but it's dangerous to think in those terms, because that can slip into condemnation of other states.

"less productive" is fine. if only we lived in a system which didn't pathologize that...
in general, as i move outside of the judgemental frame of reference i was taught to employ, i find that:

altered mental weather is not worse, it is just other.
or, more neutrally:
activities or sensations fit differently in different states.
sometimes you want control over your mental health, and tools for doing that are immensely useful and necessary. but it's not a question of different being inherently worse.

activities or sensations fit differently in different states.
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