July 31, 2022

E378: Dissociation And HOW To Get Present | Mental Health Coach

Listen to the full episode at On Today's Episode: People who are dissociating often are not even aware that it is happening; other people notice it. So, I will talk about dissociation and how you treat dissociation naturally.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e378-dissociation-and-how-to-get-present-mental-health-coach/#show-notes

Listen to the full episode at https://www.ThinkUnbrokenPodcast.com

On Today's Episode:

People who are dissociating often are not even aware that it is happening; other people notice it. So, I will talk about dissociation and how you treat dissociation naturally.

If you are dissociated, you MUST watch this episode!

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Early on in my healing journey, I recognized something that had always felt true about my life and that is that I did not ever feel like I was here.

I always kind of felt like I was watching myself from outer space is really the most simple way that I can put it. Even with many of the people that I coach and including in the coaching program that we built, we talk about dissociation. And dissociation is a probably arguably one of the most important topics about healing and overcoming trauma that I probably have not gone into enough and so that's why I wanted to go in this to you with you today.

You know, first and foremost, I think it's really important to recognize that there are multiple different types of dissociation. There's dissociative an amnesia, dissociative identity disorder and depersonalization disorder and I'll kind of go into those a little bit more with you. But effectively really what it comes down to is understanding that being dissociated is well, it's a result of multiple different things, right? It can be because of trauma, it can be because of drug use, PTSD, it can also be from other mental health conditions, right? And dissociation is really about this idea of being detached from your body. You might feel a sense of not being in reality, or you have lost your connection to time or to the place that you're in and most importantly, really, to your identity.

Dissociation kind of interrupts your experience in a few different ways. One, you have the interruption of your consciousness, you have the interruption of your identity, of your memory. And this is the one that probably impacted me the most was self-awareness. Like, you know, it's so funny to me when I think about some of the conversations that I've had with people over the years. And they'd be like, dude, are you even paying attention to the things that you're doing? And I'd be like, yes, but really was it because one of the aspects that comes from trauma in our traumatic experiences is that as a survival mechanism. We remove our emotional capacity to be present in our physical body because it helps us cope with the pain. And it doesn't always have to necessarily be physical pain like you can have this same dissociative experience from witnessing something traumatic from seeing or feeling or experiencing something traumatic. It doesn't always have to be that there was, you know, hitting or smacking or punching or being beaten or locked in closets or things like that. I mean, yes, of course those things add to it, but you know, there's things that you have to think about as well as like, this can be triggered in a lot of different ways. I mean, you're talking about from stress disorders, from effective disorders, from borderline personality disorders, depression, migraines, epilepsy, different phobias, like, think about this; this is a really easy case scenario. You know, what do you think happens to your body? If you have a phobia of water, right? I'm just saying that, cuz I happen to have a bottle of water here. You will disconnect your brain from your body as a survival mechanism when you are around water, and it makes perfect sense.

Now being dissociated also will carry with it some symptoms. And I think these symptoms are really important to understand, and these are the ones that there are a couple of them hit me pretty hard and I see this in my clients too. Like when we're going through coaching, when we're talking about where they are, you know, big aspect of this journey for them, as we start at getting present, just kind of taking a pause for a moment, getting our brain and our body and our experience as grounded and connected as we can.

Now that could be food journaling for a couple minutes or meditation, or just sitting and breathing. But there are so many symptoms you have to be on lookout for. Now, we're in a hyper alert state just in general in the world right now. And so, I want to bring attention to that, I think that's really important, but I also want to bring attention to the symptoms that are a part of this, and this could be things like having flashbacks.

So, one of the symptoms that I suffered through a lot was just to in the middle of the day have flashbacks and these flashbacks would turn into panic attacks. And in these flashbacks, I would be back in these scenarios where my mother or my stepfather, or my grandmother or kids at school or bullies or teachers or whatever it was that had impacted me. I would feel like I was there and it took a long time and a lot of therapy and a lot of coaching to be able to manage those, now they rarely have ever happened. But at first, these flashbacks occur because your brain is trying to make meaning of reality. For some of us, and this is how I operated, I just stuffed them down all the time and then they were like, nope, we're gonna show up. You need to pay attention to me because you need to work on this.

And so, I would say to anyone, and this is just my opinion, of course, but to anyone, if you're having any flashbacks right now, you might have disassociation happening in your life and you may want to really, really consider stepping into therapy. I found that EMDR Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing movement therapy worked really well for me. I won't get in the details on it right now, but you can Google it EMDR.

So, flashbacks are symptoms, feeling like you are losing touch with things that are happening in your life or you're daydreaming in real time. You can blank out during different periods of time in the day. Right? You could be in a situation and then have you ever had this happen somebody's like, Hey. Are you here? Are you paying attention? But you're like in LaLaland, right? Memory loss is a part of it. You can have this blurry distorted sense of reality and most importantly, and this is the one that I see the most often, is that people are just disconnected and detached from their emotions. And that was another one that was really, really intense for me. And I've shared this on this show before, I've shared this in coaching before, and I've shared this with clients before.

There was a period of time in my life where I literally thought I was a sociopath because I was so removed from emotional capacity and through doing the work, through studying, through learning about the brain and the science and things like this, what I had discovered was actually I was dissociated and emotions were scary to me because as a child I wasn't allowed to have emotions without suffering. Right? And that ties into this idea of trauma, really being the theft of identity, the theft of emotions, the theft of all these other things.

Looking at this and thinking about, how if you have some of these symptoms, how you kind of cope with this, I'll look at this from a couple of different perspectives.

One is the side that I don't really exist in, cause I'm not a therapist, but that's gonna be therapy, right? There's cognitive behavioral therapy, you know, and that focuses on people identifying around negative thoughts and behaviors, there EMDR, which we talked about, there's gestalt therapy, which was incredibly effective for me because that therapy is really about creating rhyme and reason in real time. And of course, there's tons of medications. I won't get into that, talk to your doctor, figure that out.

What I think about in terms of coaching and in my own journey, what I advise my clients on what I advise you on if you're listening, if you're watching paying attention to this, is first and foremost, to make sure that you are getting sleep, and we hear about sleep all the time. I have interviewed some incredible sleep specialists over the years, and they all point to the same thing, that getting sleep can is the number one way to help your body heal and recover. And this is healthy sleep that is regimented, that is almost formulaic and it's making sure that you're not interrupting that pattern with late night sugar, late night food, late night alcohol, and making sure that you have good sleep hygiene. And this could be like turning off the lights and putting on a red light, which if you can't see in my apartment, but I have a couple of red lights that I flip on are they're on most of the time, cuz I don't like, you know, like these big, bright lights that are under right now, it can be getting into a routine of, are you having came mill and lavender tea, just slowing down, getting out of the throws of the day to day blue light glasses, people talk about those. But I think for me, and one thing I always advise to my clients the most is take your phone and get it away from you at night. There's probably nothing happening in your life after eight o'clock that you're gonna need your phone, and if it's an emergency, obviously, you know, you figure out how to navigate that. But the scrolling that's releasing dopamine.

If you go and listen to an episode of, think unbroken podcast that I did with Dr. Anna Lembke, who wrote Dopamine Nation, you will find out exactly why you are addicted to your phone and how that actually is interrupting your sleep every night.

There's a lot of relaxation techniques that you can step into.

Personally, I have found that meditation, yoga and journaling have become almost daily practice in my life.

Let's talk about the exercise like you have to move your physical body. One of the best ways to release dopamine into your body, endorphins to get healthy to process is movement and especially movement where, you know, if you're not on your phone, distracted, reading a book, listening music, but instead just focused on your physical body as you are going through the movement, that is where you can start to reconnect your brain and your body.

In my journey, this was yoga for me and was this yoga was really like therapy. And so, I'd lay on this mat, only listening to what effectively was a guided meditation through the physical movements. And the more that I did that, the more that I started becoming aware of my physical body. What was really interesting about that time is this is also the same time I was able to start stepping into emotions more. And I found myself like on this yoga mat, like in tears sometimes because I finally felt like I was here and present. Then of course, we talk about our diet, I mean, look, there there's so much evidence, there's so much information that points to our diets, really impacting anxiety, depression, stress, the process foods, the sugars and this is what's wild, there are over 200 different names in the American food system for processed sugar – 200. There's a high likelihood that each day we are consuming a copious amount of sugara and that is negatively impacting us that can lead to gut health issues like leaky gut that can lead to having anxiety. I mean, there's so much about sugar, the processed oils, canola oils, vegetable oils, fried food, fast food. Food is medicine, if you haven't read the book, the paleo cure, I highly highly recommend it. I read that book and it really kind of changed my life forever because I remember not really understanding the power of food and when I read that book, it really changed my life because I finally was educated. And Dr. Chris Kresser wrote that book and it's one of my favorite books, and then of course you gotta look at your triggers, right?

So, if dissociation comes from the experience of witnessing or seeing something, then being able to identify and bring awareness to those triggering experiences is going to be in your best interest because you have to recognize something. The next thing is coming, like whatever that next trigger is, whatever that next thing is, it's gonna negatively impact your cognition, it's on its way. It might be happening right now, just listening to this might be triggering you. You have to be able to be aware of those things and then execute against the tools in all the Think Unbroken Curriculum. Right. You have to be able to execute against these tools in order to be successful, right? Because if you can identify and manage those triggers, you have a much, much higher likelihood of having success when you are in dissociation.

And so, for me, one day, I just sat down with my pen and I just started writing down, like, what are the things that trigger me? What are the impacts of those things that trigger me? How do I feel when I'm triggered and what can I do to get out of that? And so, if you take an hour or two hours and just sit down, you really start thinking about all the times that you feel dissociated, upset, have flashback, stage rooms, whatever it is, you write those down, that's gonna be a big win for you.

And so all this, I wanna wrap up and say this, dissociation impacts a lot of people. You are not less than because you are impacted by this, you are not somehow like broken because you're impacted by it. I've been impacted by its thousands of the people I've coached have been impacted by it. People who listen to the podcast have been impacted by it and that's a part of the human experience. And so, I want you to think as you start to go into what's next in your life to just bring a little bit more awareness, pay a little bit more attention and when it gets difficult, because for me, it got very difficult to kind of put my brain and body back together when it starts to get difficult, give yourself some grace, make sure you have support, execute the tools and keep going.

Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.