This Comic Explains What Dissociation Feels Like So You Don't Have To
It’s something you’ve probably experienced, but maybe to a mild or harmless extent, like driving on a familiar road without remembering the details of the trip. But for those who have more chronic dissociation — a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity — the experience can be intrusive, affecting their daily lives.
If you experience dissociation often or have a dissociative disorder, it can be hard to explain what it’s like to a loved one. That’s what inspired artist Hannah Daisy — who you might know from her #boringselfcare series — to create a comic about what dissociation feels like.
“I made it because I know it’s something I don’t see people talk about a lot,” Daisy told The Mighty. “I notice people feeling frightened that they are ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’ for having these experiences but actually they are very common.”
While experiencing mild dissociation is typical, it’s estimated seven percent of adults in the U.S. have a dissociative disorder at some point in their lives. According to the American Psychological Association, dissociative disorders are frequently associated with previous experiences of trauma.
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A mini story explaining #dissociation (and #depersonalization / #derealization ). This doesn’t speak for everyone and it’s a very personal experience. [visual description: 8 comic style images. Image 1 has a ginger cat and a black and white cat in a cafe. The black and white cat asks “but…what on earth is dissociation?” Ginger cat says “well… READY?!” Image 2 “Depersonalisation” ginger cat is looking at their paws which at times are transparent. Ginger cat says “sometimes it feels like my body is not real. I check my hands”. Image 3. An image of ginger cat in the cafe from above looking through two cat eyes. Below it says “sometimes it’s like I’ve left my body and looking down on myself. Watching my body from the outside”. Image 4. Ginger cat is looking confused as a purple spoon. Ginger cat is saying “there is no spoon”. The background is melting. Above it says “it can feel like everything around me is not real. Sometimes objects and walls and faces melt”. Image 5. Ginger cat is curled up looking scared and confused. A thought bubble shows two clocks, one says 5pm and the other says 9.05 suggesting the passing of time. The other thought bubble says “what did I do?” Below it says “sometimes I loose time and can’t remember what I did. At times I’ve harmed myself and don’t remember. I am disorientated, confused and frightened.” Image 6 shows black and white cat asking “why? Why would you choose that?” Ginger cat replies with “I DON’T CHOOSE!” “For some it happens because of trauma. Perhaps one bad thing happened and/or they grew up with trauma.” “Maybe some have mental problems or epilepsy or migraines. For some it’s scary. Others it helps them cope. “ image 7 shows ginger cat talking. “Some people experience ‘dissociative seizures’. Other people have ‘dissociative identity disorder (DID). This means some people have more than one personality or ‘alters’ (alternative personalities).” “Everyone’s experience is unique. Listen “. Image 8 is back in the cafe and shows a close up of black and white cat putting their paw on top of ginger cats paw. Black and white cat is saying “ok. I support you”. ] #dissociativeidentitydisorder #did #mentalhealthrecovery #comic
Daisy said she was motivated to create the comic after a conversation she had with a friend who was struggling to talk about her trauma and dissociation. “So I thought if I drew it, it would raise some awareness and some discussion… and provide a space to be open and talk,” she said.
If you’re having trouble explaining dissociation to your loved ones, Daisy’s comic might help. You can check out the whole story below:
If you experience dissociation, you are not alone. For additional support and self-care guidance, check out our 10 self-care tips for people who dissociate.
To see more of Daisy’s work, visit her site.
Lead image via Hannah Daisy