Explains what dissociation and dissociative disorders are, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
This page offers some practical suggestions for looking after yourself, such as:
Keeping a journal can help you understand and remember different parts of your experience. It could:
“Using a journal to express my inner turmoil helps me deal with it.”
Visualisation is a way of using your imagination to create internal scenes and environments that help you stay safe and contain difficult feelings and thoughts. For example:
If you experience different identity states, you might be able to imagine a place where they can all meet together and talk. Your therapist might help you to do this too.
Grounding techniques can keep you connected to the present and help you avoid feelings, memories, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that you don't feel able to cope with yet. You could try:
Focus on the sensations you are feeling right now. You might find it helpful to keep a box of things with different textures and smells (for example perfume, a blanket and some smooth stones) ready for when you need it.
“It's strange because it took me a long time to realise I didn't need to dissociate to keep myself safe.”
Dissociation can make day to day life difficult. Practical strategies could help you cope, such as:
A personal crisis plan is a document you make when you are well. It explains what you would like to happen if you are not well enough to make decisions about your treatment or other aspects of your life. Sometimes it is called an 'advance statement'.
See our page on planning for a crisis for more information about making crisis plans.
“Depersonalisation, derealisation and dissociation are now only occasional features in my life. But when I am under a lot of stress or not sleeping properly, I find I dissociate more.”
Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand much about dissociation and dissociative disorders, and may hold misconceptions about you. This can be really upsetting, especially if the people who feel this way are family, friends or colleagues.
This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References and bibliography available on request.
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