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15 'Rude' Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because of Dissociation

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Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in someone’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. It can often leave folks who experience it feeling disconnected from reality or their body.

And while this sensation is real to the person going through it — it may not be obvious to the people around them.

Maybe you unexpectedly shut down and stop responding in a conversation you were previously participating in. Maybe people think you are a “space cadet” because you never really seem to be “all there.” Or maybe you forget things easily and ask the same question over and over again. Sometimes dissociation can make people seem “rude,” even though, in reality, they’re just dealing with a lot internally.

No matter how your dissociation manifests, you’re not “rude” and you’re not alone. The only way we can shed some light on these behaviors is to talk about them, so we asked our Mighty community to share one thing they do while dissociating that others perceive as “rude.”

Here’s what they had to say:

  1. I tend to look like I’m daydreaming, but everything in my mind is just like a blurry, foggy feeling. Nothing’s going through my thoughts.” — Eliza P.
  2. “’Tuning out’ people who are talking to me, not being able to focus on and process what is being said to me because my mindset has focused on my thoughts in my mind too much.” — Chris V.
  3. I have been known to walk away when someone is speaking to me. I am not intentionally being rude, my mind has just left that space.” — Sandi C.
  4. At times I will stare straight at someone or something, yet I am not looking at them. My mind is somewhere else. People who really know me know this so they just let it slide. But others who don’t know me will feel uncomfortable if I am staring their way.” — Martha G.
  5. Not hearing conversations because while unintentionally dissociated, I can’t hear anything outside the thoughts rampaging in my head.” — Tammy C.
  6. I can’t talk. I’m somewhere else and I can hear you, but I don’t know where my words went. My husband now just holds me until I find my way back. He used to try to get me to say anything and it would trigger a self-attack. So now he lets me go there and come back on my own. Then I am pretty out of it for hours. When it passes, we discuss it and when it got bad.” — Mimi M.
  7. I stare off into space, sometimes in really dangerous situations, and I can feel myself going, but once I get too far… I can’t stop it. It’s happened while driving. While taking an exam. While working. Then it’s really hard to get me to come back. I can’t even hear anymore at that point.” — Kayla C.
  8. I don’t typically dissociate in public, thankfully, but when I do, it is often mid-conversation. I will cut off mid-sentence and make this face of absolute discomfort. While the person in front of me has no idea what’s wrong, I imagine it can be taken as rude, especially depending on the conversation.” — Tristin G.
  9. I go completely numb and emotionless. I cannot sympathize or empathize with anyone and I usually become super exhausted and want to sleep, or try to sleep. And I zone out really bad and just shut down so I slump around the house mindlessly.” — Caitlyn M.
  10. Not looking people in the eye. Like maybe if I just don’t look and don’t speak, then I’ll disappear. I know that’s absolutely ridiculous, so I’m trying to work on getting better at that, but it’s not easy.” — Anna M.
  11. Shutting off when someone is speaking to me. I become blank and when I become present again, I miss vital things they may be saying and because I haven’t listened attentively, they can become quite frustrated with me. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I didn’t have the skills to stay in the present moment.” — Christopher R.
  12. I will walk past co-workers or friends in the hall and stare right through them, as if they were strangers. Even if they smile or say ‘hey.’ It’s hard to explain, but when I’m dissociated, I literally can’t interact with you. I don’t mean to be rude.” — Clara B.
  13. Not remembering something later that someone said… or missing what they said altogether and having to ask again… I space out and I’ll go about my day as normal without realizing it and won’t remember what I even did… but I’ll know I did it… and people find that annoying because sometimes I didn’t get to stuff [they] think I did.” — Maximym G.
  14. Putting my headphones in to listen to my safe place tracks to try and rebalance before joining in the conversation. If I don’t, my conversation becomes totally inappropriate because I am not thinking about what comes out of my mouth.” — Missy S.
  15. Forget everything! I’m not remembering dates or important facts or names! I swear it’s not because I don’t care. My brain is just a little wonky.” — Amanda A.
Originally published: March 26, 2018
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