It is not uncommon to gaze off into the distance when distracted or deep into thought. At times, our surroundings may seem blurry and noises may become quiet as we sink into our mind. However in some cases, if one feels themselves disconnecting frequently or for long periods of time, it may not be typical. The difference between simply daydreaming and dissociation is that dissociation is the lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, and one’s identity. This includes feeling detached from your environment and the people around you. This can include feeling emotionally numb and light-headed.
So why do some people dissociate? There are many reasons as to why one may disconnect. The majority of the time, it is a response to trauma, including memories of the trauma. However, it can also be a sign of mental exhaustion. Dissociation can last anywhere from hours to weeks, and can be a symptom of a mental disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. Dissociation might also occur more often if one is not getting enough sleep, food, or water. Another common time when one may dissociate can be during a breakdown. One may find themself crying and hurting emotionally one moment and then suddenly stop. It may appear as though they are doing better but in reality, they have become mentally exhausted and dissociate to subconsciously attempt to “leave” the breakdown.
I have experienced periods of dissociation on multiple occasions, struggling to bring myself out of it. Although these periods did not last more than a couple hours, they were challenging to deal with while trying to focus on school, or any other task I would have to complete. After dealing with short periods of dissociation, I then experienced longer periods of dissociation, that would last weeks or even months. Although I was still able to complete my daily tasks, it made simple tasks much more challenging. At times, it would feel as though I was in a dream rather than reality and I would have a difficult time feeling anything emotionally or critically thinking.
Although it is challenging to focus when one is dissociated, there are ways to aid in stopping it. First, it is important to make sure that you are sleeping and eating enough as lacking to do so may cause one to dissociate more frequently. If you or a loved one experiences dissociation that is a symptom of a mental disorder or a traumatic event, therapy could greatly aid in addressing the struggles and therefore stopping dissociation. Similar to when having a panic attack, it is also important to use your five senses. Naming three things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
https://batonrougebehavioral.com/5-tips-to-handle-a-dissociative-disorder/ (Gives tips on how to handle dissociation)