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Post No.: 0796dissociation


Furrywisepuppy says:


If you have a personality disorder (see Post No.: 0790 for a rundown on the various types of personality disorders that are currently being clinically diagnosed) then it can feel like a daily struggle and things can occasionally feel too overwhelming to cope with. But there are many immediate things you can do to soothe and help yourself.


Some things will work for some more than others, and some things will work for you sometimes but not at other times. So be kind to yourself if something doesn’t work for you, and have a go at something else. Woof!


So if you’re feeling angry, frustrated or restless – try a slow, mindful breathing exercise that includes counting to 10 before reacting, or try the body scan meditation. Take yourself out of the situation by going for a short walk outside. Talk to a trusted person who’s not connected to the situation, like a friend, family member, counsellor or peer support group. If you cannot find someone suitable then offload your thoughts in a journal. Go for some exercise to release the pent up energy. Or try a cold shower. Distract yourself with an activity like putting on some upbeat music and dancing, doing something with your paws like crafting or fixing something, or do some drawing or colouring in.


If you’re feeling depressed, sad or lonely – talk to someone or a peer group you trust about how you feel. Alternatively you could call, in confidence, a helpline, like the Samaritans if you’re in the UK, about anything that’s upsetting you. Try mindfulness meditation. Keep a mood diary. Write your negative feelings onto a piece of paper then tear it up afterwards. Or write a comforting letter to the part of yourself that is feeling sad or lonely. Cuddle a pet or fluffy toy. Try to get the right amount of sleep (around 7-8 hours per night). Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Exercise regularly. Spend time amongst green natural spaces (ecotherapy is a type of therapeutic treatment that involves doing outdoor activities amongst nature). And don’t neglect your hygiene.


Do something you enjoy, but avoid alcohol or other recreational drugs. Try new things, or things you’ve always wanted to do but have never gotten around to doing, to boost your mood and break up the unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour. Join a hobby or sports group, or volunteer in the community. But set only realistically achievable goals. You could also compile a kind of ‘first aid kit for your mental health’ that includes your favourite books, films or music, pictures you find comforting, notes of encouragement, affirmations and helpful sayings, fidget toys, a pleasant smelling candle, cosy items and anything else you find comforting or distracting; then dig into this kit whenever you feel you need to.


Although hardly just appreciated by those who feel lonely or have social anxieties – parasocial relationships, or one-sided relationships, like being invested in a favourite celebrity but whereby the celebrity is totally unaware of one’s existence as an individual, can increase the feeling of having a companion. They expand the sense of having a social network and a familiar friend, with the bonus of negating the chance of rejection. Some credit their favourite personas for helping them get through tough times or for shaping their identity.


If you’re feeling anxious, panicky or tense – again talk to someone or a peer group you trust, but be safe with unknown online groups. Try some breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises work for some but others will find it overwhelming to be present with their own negative thoughts (this might be particularly true for those with social anxiety). Practising mindfulness teaches us to trust and stay with any difficult feelings instead of trying to analyse, suppress, escape from or encourage them. This may help you to safely explore the underlying causes of your stress. You may find that your worries have been overblown, or that what’s done is done and should now be compartmentalised in the past?


Write down everything you can think of about where you are right now, like the time, colour of the walls and furniture in the room, to help you focus on the present. Accept how you are feeling in the moment and understand that it won’t last forever. Try focusing on one thing at a time. Write your worries down in one particular place, and set aside a specific time to focus on your worries. You could keep a diary to keep track of what sort of events trigger a panic attack so that you can account for them in the future, as well as to note what sorts of things are good and are going well. Sleep well, eat well and exercise, as usual. Make yourself a hot drink and slowly savour it, have a nice bath or shower, or go for a massage. Some people find it helps to try hypnotherapy, herbal treatments, aromatherapies or other complementary and alternative medicines.


If you’re feeling a sense of dissociation or as if ‘checked/spaced out’ – keep a journal or sketchbook to help you understand and remember the different parts of your identity (if you experience different identity states) or your experience. Use your imagination to visualise scenes that help you stay feeling safe and keep a lid on difficult thoughts and feelings (e.g. imagine yourself wearing protective clothing when in a stressful situation, or imagine a comforting place). If you have dissociative identity disorder (DID) then, with the help of a therapist, you could try to imagine a place where all your identities can meet together and talk.


Dissociative identity disorder (which used to be called multiple personality disorder, and is sometimes colloquially called split personality disorder) is a mental disorder characterised by the maintenance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. Dissociation is the general term referring to a sense of detachment from things. It’s usually triggered by severe stress. Depersonalisation is more specifically a sense of detachment from oneself and one’s identity, as if one is an outside observer to one’s life. Derealisation is when the people or things around oneself seem unreal, as if one is detached from one’s surroundings.


This dissociation or sense of detachment can keep oneself feeling safe. But instead of resorting to dissociation – grounding techniques, like breathing slowly, listening to the sounds in your environment, walking barefoot, wrapping yourself in a blanket or smelling something with a strong smell, can help to keep you staying feeling connected to the here and now yet help you avoid focusing on any flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that you don’t feel able to process quite yet. Focus instead on the sensory sensations you are feeling right now. You could keep a box of textures and smells ready for when you need it for this purpose.


Some find it helps to write notes to themselves, to keep a list of trusted contacts, or to wear a watch that tells them the time and date so that they can keep track of the time lost due to dissociation. You can read about other people’s experiences with dealing with dissociation if you cannot find a peer group. When you are feeling well, create a personal crisis plan document, which explains what you’d like to happen if you’re not well enough to make sound decisions for yourself. And as always, sleep well, eat well and exercise.


If you’re feeling like you want to self-harm – find a coping method that is less injurious, like sticking sticky tape or a plaster on your skin and peeling it off, holding ice cubes where you want to hurt yourself, flicking elastic bands onto your wrists, or taking a very cold shower. Find whatever personally works for you.


Try to work out and write down in a diary what triggers your urge to self-harm (e.g. certain people, objects, events, situations, working too hard, specific sensations, thoughts or feelings) and recognise when these urges (e.g. heavy feelings, strong emotions, empty or disconnected feelings, a racing heart, repetitive thoughts about self-harm) start to come on so that you can take yourself out of the situation before things escalate. If you’ve already self-harmed, reflect afterwards on what happened to work out the pattern of escalation that got to that point so that you can avoid repeating that pattern in the future. If you find this process of discovery distressing then ask for the support of someone you trust.


Identify what personally works to distract you from the urge to harm yourself. These may not work for you every time, perhaps because what works when you’re angry isn’t the same as what works when you’re feeling scared, numb, ashamed, self-loathing or in need of a sense of control – therefore it’s vital to have a few strategies to select from. It could be going for some exercise, letting yourself cry, listening to soothing music, singing, writing lists, writing poetry, tidying up, weeding the garden, massaging your paws, avoiding an unkind person, writing a compassionate letter to yourself, or barking or throwing a ball at a wall? Do note though that expressing your anger physically, like destroying objects, can intensify your feelings of anger. Another technique is to literally sit on your paws for until the urge passes. This can be difficult though so try to gradually build up how long you can delay the self-harm.


Woof. If you have experiences with a personality disorder then you could share your own tips that others could consider and try too. Just use the Twitter comment button below.


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