Dissociation, Daydreaming, and Mind Dump

Daydreaming - background of cloudy sky above Saddleback Mountain range and trees in foreground

Already I’ve lost my place and forgotten what I was going to write. As I went to save this as a Word document to my hard drive, I saw some organizing I had to do – files in the wrong folder. Got to keep my data organized if not my home or my mind. At least this is something I can control or that I want to exert some control over.

So…what I was thinking and decided to get down on paper is how I enjoy daydreaming. I used to daydream or dissociate for hours a day while picking my skin, resulting in horrible sores on my face, chest, and arms. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the picking and I enjoyed where my mind went. I did not enjoy the damage to my skin. That I was ashamed of. I would try to undo the damage with OTC treatments, with antibiotics, and cover it up with makeup. But the damage was done and I have scars to show for it. Luckily my pock marks are relatively mild. My skin fair, so it does not scar as badly as skin with more melatonin.

Why did I enjoy the daydreaming so? Because, quite simply, I love living in my head, in the world of ideas. I love imagining myself speaking to others. My thoughts often in the form of speeches or interviews. I being the one speaking or the one being interviewed. Suppose these imaginings are somewhat grandiose. Though, actually, I believe that someday I will be doing some public speaking. Someday I will be the subject of interviews. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

One problem I have had, though, is that I’m often not sure if, in looking back, I simply thought something or if I actually told someone else that thought. That is, in the moment, I know that the conversation is simply in my mind. I’m under no delusion that it is actually taking place anywhere else at the time that I’m thinking it. But in retrospect, my memory is fuzzy and I’m not sure whether I shared those thoughts with say my husband or someone else. Did I just think it? Or did I actually say it? If I did say it, to whom? I have no idea. Most of my ideas I keep in my head.

Though right now I’m writing them down. That I should do more of. Simply writing. Perhaps less reading of blogs and articles online and more writing of my thoughts as I think them.

I think of Jenny Lawson’s blog The Bloggess, and how she does not answer comments. I remember her post about how she simply can’t write what others want her to write. That her blog is her house. I must think more about how I want to arrange my metaphorical house. My mind, my time, my blog, my social media activity.

If I’m to venture out of my house, off of my couch, and work in the real world, I will not have the time to spend up to 14 hours a day on social media. Perhaps some days up to 16 hours. I know I spend an excessive amount of time and that it is not healthy. It is excessive. It is triggering of hypomania when I overdo it.

So since I volunteered last week at NAMI Orange County and learned that someone recently resigned, my mind wrestles with the problem of data management for the position and for the woman I volunteered for last week and will again tomorrow. I love database design and find relational databases far better tools for managing data than spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are simply easier to use. Spreadsheets are the best tool for calculations. Numerical data. Relational databases are better for data for which there are complex relationships, one-to-many relationships, multiple relationships. So, I may just publish this stream of writing, writing I did to empty my mind onto a page, into a Word document, as a blog post, and later take another look at designing a database which users could access via a web browser and online login for NAMI Orange County’s consideration.

32 thoughts on “Dissociation, Daydreaming, and Mind Dump

  1. Kitt – I love this blog. It’s so well written and your honesty and willingness for us to see you seems to flow freely from your fingertips. It all started pulling me in with the lovely photo at the top of your blog. Who doesn’t love to daydream. It’s healthy as long as we aren’t obsessive and believe they are actually true. I’ve actually come up with some of my best ideas while daydreaming in my garden doing real work. There’s something about setting the mind free of other distractions that allows me this relaxation to daydream and then often come up with solutions to something that may have been puzzling me for a very long time. I’ve also practiced ‘speeches’ to my flowers and tried out different thoughts on them. It’s a perfect place. Sometimes my thoughts sound so terrible when I actually listen to myself, the plan or idea gets scrapped immediately. My point, however, is that I believe daydreaming is a healthy part of life as long as we know that’s what we are doing, daydreaming.
    Additionally, when I’m remembering wonderful times Tom and I spent together from long ago, that’s probably a type of daydreaming but it brings me pleasure in recalling our fun times together. Otherwise, it would be more than difficult for me to live through the life I’m living now.
    Now on to the issue of disassociation – Until I was well into my 40s I could completely dissociate from my body. It was caused by my severe PTSD. I could see my feet and hands floating around on the ceiling although I knew in reality my limbs were attached. I could successfully throw myself , or disassociate myself, from any situation I didn’t want to be a part of. It was an exceedingly dangerous practice due to my career as it often left me in danger. I worked with a physical therapist for 3 years to learn to connect with my body.
    There’s times when I wish I could still disassociate from my body. For example, I never had to have any pain killer at the dentist because I couldn’t feel anything. This would drive my dentist crazy and he would tell me that maybe I didn’t need the novocaine but he did. Dissociation is a danger to all of us but I don’t believe medication is the answer. Because mine was caused by severe PTSD I was allowed to work through physical therapy and that’s where I recommend everyone start. At least, with PT, medications aren’t tearing up your body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 30, 2015 / 4:36 pm

      I’m no expert in pathological dissociation, though I did self-harm when I picked my skin. Dissociation that goes beyond daydreaming and results in harm must be addressed therapeutically. I’d be interested in what others did to heal and reintegrate, to be present in their body.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never done anything to self-harm other than put myself in unbelievably risky situations. I was always able to rationalize what I was doing was either for the good of my job or that if I were hurt in the process, so be it. This was before I met Tom. I had several years where I didn’t much care what happened to me and by the grace of God, Tom entered my life and I knew he would never put up with my behavior and I knew I wanted him in my life and I turned myself around. However, I was still dissociating plus my PTSD was in full swing.
        The PTSD was from 13 years of severe child sexual abuse from an aunt and her lesbian partner. Those who believe all sexual abuse comes from men, have another thought coming. This abuse kept me from bonding with women for most of my life and it’s taken me 20+ years of therapy to allow women into my life as friends to trust.
        It wasn’t my therapist at the time that helped me to reintegrate my body, after I met Tom. My MD felt it was imperative for me to know where my body was at all times due to the type of work I was involved in and the fact that I could be injured at any time and not be aware of it. The internist was one of the best I’ve ever worked with and she referred me to a top notch physical therapist. First we worked on rolfing just to get my body in touch with itself and from there we worked for months on using color visualization in pulling my body parts together. We used my favorite color and with visualization practiced using my favorite color of ribbon to run along beside all of my bones until the structure of my body was connected. Then we did the same for the muscular connectors of the body and so on.
        I’ve had times when I wish I could still dissociate but I know it’s not healthy for me or anyone else. One of my major goals of therapy is to stay present in my own body at all times.
        I’m convinced body work is the best way to overcome pathological dissociation and because it’s a severe medical problem, insurance normally pays for the sessions as they are referrals by a MD. I encourage anyone with dissociative disorder to begin treatment with a qualified practitioner soon. I could never healed that part of my psychic past if I hadn’t spent well over a year working twice a week to overcome this unhealthy avoidance mechanism.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kitt O'Malley August 1, 2015 / 12:38 pm

          Sheri, thank you for sharing both your harrowing experience of child sexual abuse by women and you hopeful experience of healing using somatic therapies, such as the ones you describe. You are right. It is not healthy, and there are treatments to overcome dissociative disorders. I cannot imagine what that must have been like for you as a girl growing up. I am so glad that you have come so far in your healing process. Thank you once again.

          Liked by 1 person

          • And, thank you for understanding, Kitt. You are the first person in my blogging world I’ve shared this part of my past with. Someday I may address it or not but for purposes of disassociation, it played a major role in my life and my own destructive behavior.
            Your blog is one of my favorite mental health blogs as not only do you provide great information for all individuals dealing with mental health issues but you also have the insight of having studied with an advanced degree. I love when you write free-flowing.
            Yes, it takes so much time to keep up with producing an excellent blog time after time. You’ve proven yourself capable but I also understand the time it takes. Thank you for being an honest writer about your own struggles as well as your advocacy on behalf of others.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Kitt O'Malley August 2, 2015 / 12:56 pm

            I have every intention of continuing to write. It’s the reading of other blogs that I may have to curtail. As well as the excessive amount of time spent on other social media. I’m trying to develop focus, set some boundaries for myself, structure my time somewhat, and enter the “real” world.

            Liked by 1 person

          • How well I understand. I used your suggested method of making reader lists for WordPress. This saves me a lot of time. I’ve also cut back to fewer postings on WordPress and have curtailed Facebook a great deal. I limit myself to 3 sites. The other is Twitter.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandy Sue July 30, 2015 / 6:51 am

    I think you’re being very smart to try volunteering first. I so wanted to work as a Peer and just couldn’t tolerate it. Framing it as an experiment kept the worst of the “failure” thinking at bay.

    I also really like the idea of using your blog just as a brain dump. While I know advocacy is important to you, I think you’d find externalizing your thoughts to be a wonderful tool.

    I used to worry about my fantasizing, but I’ve been able to funnel all that into my fiction writing. My therapist thinks it’s one of the healthiest things I do!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. vanbytheriver July 30, 2015 / 5:49 am

    I’m so glad you wrote about this, Kitt. I realized early on that I could live in my head, an obsessive daydreamer, and snap back into reality when I needed to be present. It happened all the time in elementary school..teachers/nuns would complain I was not paying attention, then call on me, and I always knew the answers. I did not then, and in many ways, still do not understand the amazing, complex human brain. I consider my own daydreams and mental conversations today as a source of tremendous creativity, and I’m so grateful. Imagination is such a resource. ☺ Keep writing it out. You will be amazed when you go back and read your own stuff. Van

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 30, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      Thanks, Van. What’s interesting, too, is that mindfulness trains the mind to NOT dissociate, but to be present in the here and now. That is without doubt important. But, I believe that dissociation can serve a purpose. Obviously, people use it as a defense, as a coping mechanism. But, perhaps it is also a well from which we can draw.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim Buchanan July 29, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Good post. I love the wandering through your thoughts.

    Don’t feel alone on the picking, I still do that, mostly on my fingers, but on my face and arms too. I really have to work on that.

    I too think you’d be a perfect fit for NAMI.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 8:18 pm

      Thank you, Jim. I’m going in to volunteer tomorrow and am considering offering to volunteer on a regular basis, say two days a week, in the office. I need to see how I do with the social stimulation. It tends to trigger hypomania and cycling in me. I do want to get out more though and interact with people in real life and have some structure to my days aside from the tasks of mothering, many of which I don’t even do.

      Like

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 8:19 pm

      Actually, I mother okay. It’s the cooking and cleaning that I’m not too keen on. I cook well, but doing so is interminable, like dishes and laundry, day after day, without end…

      Like

  5. badhalolife July 29, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    Love this post… I enjoyed your honest, disjointed, sometimes-flow and expect that it felt good to get it all into the page. I can relate, sometimes do the same on my own blog. Keep writing and keep sharing honey xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 8:16 pm

      Crap, my writing was disjointed… Well, usually I write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. This was more of a stream that I opened and shared.

      Like

      • badhalolife July 29, 2015 / 8:59 pm

        Yep I got that! Sometimes that’s the way it happens. When writing a mental health blog, writing whatever comes to mind can be just as valid as a structured piece. It gives us readers an insight as to where your head’s at and somehow normalises it. It can be very reassuring for those of us who go through similar stuff. Keep doing what you’re doing xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  6. dyane July 29, 2015 / 5:05 pm

    After being almost 100% off the internet for just ten days, now that I’m back online I’m totally overwhelmed with catching up with blogs – of course I won’t even try to catch up with Twitter. I need to remind myself that it’s ok not to have read everything, “like” posts & comment. It’s not like I’m being graded or paid to do it, right? 😉

    Ever since I got back it has been very hard for me to strike a healthy balance between my social media time and other stuff. It’s not easy to go from one extreme (no WiFi at the Munchkin cabin or neighbors’ signals I could have tapped into…) to the other extreme of Wifi whenever I want it.

    I am excited that you’re considering applying for the NAMI position. Regardless of the outcome, I’m simply proud of you for thinking about it. If you were to interview for the job, I’m 99.9% sure you’d land it, no matter who else applies. It’s up to you if it would seem like a good fit or not – it’s so good & healthy not to be “desperate” to want a job, you know what I mean? In any case, they’d be lucky to have you on their staff!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 8:15 pm

      Well, some people need a job. With my husband’s income and disability, I do not need a job. Working, too, might start me cycling. I’m now considering offering to volunteer as an intern for two days a week on a regular schedule. That way, I’d be easing myself out of the house and into regular contact with other people, and I can see how I cope with the stimulation.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Just Plain Ol' Vic July 29, 2015 / 2:28 pm

    I think this is why I enjoy reading so much, is that it allows me to picture all these wonderful worlds in my mind. While I am reading, I am free and unfettered by my existence. I admit I sometimes “zone out” when I drive but I am trying to keep my focus and allow my mind to wander at healthier times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 3:49 pm

      Good plan as for the driving. Reading is enjoyable, at least reading good fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. debiriley July 29, 2015 / 2:09 pm

    living in my head in the world of ideas – your phrase resonates, perhaps as an artist there are indeed many ideas in there. interesting, educational, enlightening, post! Thank you, for sharing with us 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 3:48 pm

      Thanks! I think many writers, artists, and “absent-minded” professors, those who work with ideas, with concepts, live in their heads at least some of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. joelsax47 July 29, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    I used to dissociate a lot more than I do now. It was a symptom of my bipolar disorder, I believe. One thing that I used to do was get in my car, head for my destination,and completely lose all sense of where I was until I arrived. if there was trouble along the way, I would come out of it, but it was still troubling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      I dissociate when I drive, too, often missing my exit and ending up well past my destination. It is scary. Okay to dissociate at home when simply sitting down; another thing to do it while driving a car.

      Like

      • joelsax47 July 29, 2015 / 2:03 pm

        I think my anti-psychotic might be helping with this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kitt O'Malley July 29, 2015 / 3:46 pm

          I like being in my head. I guess that’s something I should take a look at. Distances me from those around me and my surroundings. Not currently on an antipsychotic.

          Like

      • joelsax47 July 29, 2015 / 2:05 pm

        Just checked: risperidone does help with dissociation.

        Liked by 1 person

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