I just read this blog post by a woman who claims to have overcome the borderline symptoms and lead a normal life with the occasional dissociation. In her article a brief sequence of words triggered me: “Another thing you may have noticed is that spaced out look on our faces.”
I can see this in pictures from my childhood and youth. Dissociation is the only thing I can not willfully control like other selfharming or high risk behaviours. I just can’t. I usually do not see those dissociatives states coming either. I simply suddenly find myself in a very weird place. That’s how it goes:
I feel disconnected from my body, like an observer looking at myself from far away. There is a weird, cold feeling in the chest, or better, a lack thereof. As if my soul or energy, or Self has left me and has left behind an empty space. My body does not seem to belong to me. I can, for example, see that I am going to knock over a glass of water, but I can’t stop it from happening whilst knowing and observing that I can’t stop it from happening. When I was young I ran into a bus being in a dissociative state. I was literally an accident waiting to happen.
My thoughts in a dissociative state feel as if they were wrapped in cotton wool. The thoughts sound very mechanical, not familiar, like someone talking to me through a long metal pipeline. Doing things like moving, walking, driving in this state feels like multitasking. It feels like being in a room full of cards which I am supposed to pick up and bring in order, all along while having to figure out how my legs work and walk, being blind and having gloves on that make it impossible to get a hold of those cards. And at the same time telling this story out loud to myself, but in that weird metallic voice.
My mom once told me that, in a picture, I’d look so “typical like me”: what you see in the picture is that spaced out look on my face. I hated it and her for saying that.
I think the mention in the blog did trigger me for another reason. I see this look in my son’s face.