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  • Writer's pictureEmma Coyle

Turn On, Tune In, 'Space Out'....

When the world feels so overwhelming and we ourselves feel out of control, having a means to 'escape' becomes a necessity. We need ways to 'get out of our heads' or at least get away from social media. For some people this literally means shutting off your mind and losing touch with reality. The experience of doing this can be so powerful that it can 'feel' like your mind has literally separated from your body. In common parlance, this has been spoken of as 'dissociating' (or sometimes as 'disassociating!)

However, there is a big difference between just 'spacing out' and actually 'dissociating' to the point that you lose track of hours, days, weeks or even months without realising it and/or do not recognise yourself when you look into the mirror.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, actual Dissociation is 'an experience of mental detachment, or disconnection between the mind and body, an unconscious coping mechanism that typically develops in response to trauma'. For example sexual assault victims have described having out of body experiences where they are floating above themselves either during the assault or after and abused children will often learn to 'numb' themselves emotionally and physically to block out the pain.

Clearly this creates a whole range of problems in day to day life, making it impossible to either stay in the present moment or really experience one's emotions.

Encouragingly though, it can be treated. Becoming aware of the triggers for dissociation, learning to distinguish past from present and finding effective yet alternative ways of coping with stress can help create a more complete sense of self.

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