My personal experience with dissociation:
* I do not have DID/ MPD so my experience of dissociation is to a much lesser degree on the dissociation scale. I have PTSD (Ritual abuse survivors suffer from extreme PTSD). I have blocked out a lot of the abuse from my childhood which I have relived over the years through intense, frightening, and physically painful flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, images/ flashes etc. The memories tend to come when you are ready (strong enough) to face what you experienced as a child.
-When triggered I tend to space out, but I am able to still hear and see what is happening around me, but I am removed from the present moment so everything seems much more distant, hazy, and far away. I can still respond when spoken to etc, but my reaction time may be a bit slower. When people walk by me when I am dissociated, their movements (walking, talking, etc) seem much slower.
-My vision becomes affected, its hard to focus, and sometimes its hard to read words that are written on a chalkboard such as a menu in a restaurant, or finding the right button to push when paying with my bank card, and I need to really concentrate on seeing what is in front of me. This concentration helps to pull me out of the past as it takes a lot of effort when I am in a dissociated state.
-I feel almost like I am in a protective bubble when dissociating, but it is also a little stressful as sometimes I panic a little internally when trying to get myself back to the present moment. I literally feel as if I am physically "pulling" myself out of the past, and when I am grounded in the present moment once again, everything becomes louder, more clear, and the people walking by me all seem to be moving at the right pace again.
-If I am going through a flashback, I usually feel drugged so its very hard to see, move, or stay standing etc. Sometimes I feel as if my body is moving in a drugged state such as swaying. Its hard to move my body (such as looking up) when I experience feeling drugged. I experience seeing the past, hearing the past, smelling the past, tasting the past, the emotions I had at the time of the abuse, the physical pain that I was in during the abuse, etc so usually after a flashback I am physically and emotionally exhausted. When experiencing a flashback it is very hard to get myself out of it. *Simple directions from a supportive person can really help the survivor pull themselves out of the flashback a lot quicker. Calming statements, and reassurance, as well as grounding techniques are very beneficial to the survivor. *Survivors feel a lot of shame when experiencing a flashback when out in public (Worrying about publicly embarrassing their friend, themselves) and the quicker you can help the survivor get out of the past, the better. Any simple gesture that you make will make all of the difference in the world. It is not complicated to support a survivor of ritual abuse. You just need to remember the simple things, and don't make it complicated.
I tend to still use dissociation as a coping mechanism. Though it is an automatic response that happens suddenly, so because of this I have to work hard at staying in the present moment when something frightens me. I have learned to pay attention to my body and I usually realize that I have been triggered, and that I need to pull myself back to the present moment. Sometimes concentrating or looking at something is enough, other times I need someone to point something out to me, and sometimes I need to feel/ touch what it is that I am looking at.
Recently I learned that " smelling green tea" really helped me get grounded in the present. A wonderful friend told me to smell her tea wben I was spacing out. So sense of smell is very helpful as well.
It bothers me that this still happens to me to this day, but I know that it is normal under the circumstances.
I hope that the link above and sharing what dissociation is like for me helps those of you who struggle with this, as well as those of you who care for a ritual abuse survivor.
For those of you with DID/ MPD, your dissociation is much more complex and severe, so finding a skilled therapist is vital to help you cope. In fact it is vital that ALL survivors of ritual abuse find a skilled/ knowledgeable therapist who can help you through the healing process. Remember to take one day at a time, each moment as it comes, deal with it as best as you can, forgive yourself for not being perfect, and believe that healing is possible.
Love Victorious Heart