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What I Do When PTSD Makes Me Dissociate

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Wake up. The sun’s rays warm the floor as it shines through the window. It’s going to be a great day!

I am here.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheese on top. Delicious.

“Do you want ketchup with that, honey?” I hear as a bottle is placed on the table.

• What is PTSD?

“Bang, bang, bang!” shoots off in my head. There are no actual shots fired, but my trigger was still pulled.

My brain tells me I’m not safe. Run… hide… fight. I freeze.

Disassociate — something I used to do to help myself while in dangerous situations.

I can’t feel myself. I see myself, yet I don’t. I fly above whatever terrible thing is happening to me so I don’t have to feel it — both physically and especially emotionally.

I’m trapped in this space between feeling and suffering; a space without. A space that doesn’t allow me to recognize my individualism. A space that somehow feels safe because I have no feeling at all.

That space allowed me to find safety as a young child. It gave me a place to run, a place to hide, a place to freeze; a place to fight for my life.

That space is my automatic response as an adult when I am triggered at the breakfast table.

What I heard was an offer for ketchup; what I saw was something much different. It was a trigger to my traumatic past. A reminder of what I needed to do to be safe — disassociate.

I am dissociating.

“I need to be here,” I remind myself.

“OK, I can do this. Eggs; I see myself eating eggs. I see the eggs. I taste their deliciousness. Feet; I feel my feet. My feet are touching the floor. Hands; I feel my hand, holding my fork. I see the sun, shining warmly through the window. I am safe.”

I am safe, eating eggs. I have come from safety to safety.

I am here.

Photo by a_cat on Unsplash

Originally published: June 29, 2019
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