In Bridges last week we shared the incredible experience of surfacing from chronic sensory dissociation. Sometimes people experience short episodes of dissociation, lasting hours to days. Some of us experience chronic dissociation that can last for years, sometimes punctuated by little episodes of reconnecting. When this happens, it is a very precious experience and important to make time to treasure. I’ve experienced chronic dissociation where for months my sight has been dim, colours seem dark and dull to me, my hearing is poor, my taste and smell are dulled, and my skin doesn’t perceive touch clearly. Everything is dulled, far away, darkened. It feels like being a zombie, alive but dead.
Coming back to life, even if it’s only brief, is glorious. To taste, smell, or feel things clearly, sharply, is intense. Being numbed by dissociation can be like walking about muffled in a huge overcoat. Taking this off and feeling the breeze on your skin, the sunlight, the smell of gum trees or grass, is an intense and sensual experience. Chronic dissociation can leave you raw, like feet kept in shoes all winter long, they are tender when you first walk barefoot in the spring. If you experience chronic dissociation, treasure any moments it subsides. Take time to touch life, to breathe it in, to remind yourself what it feels like to be alive. These are the memories that keep us going when our world goes dark again. This is what we are fighting for.
After the weeks made dim
By fear and stress,
on the black water
A day like today
is so strange and welcome
To wake, and find the devils gone
No shades at my bed – misery,
loneliness, hopelessness, and bleak despair
All mysteriously called away
And instead the day is mine, to fill with my own things
The anxiety and the wrenching pain
Drive me before them,
bound and bruised,
Resentful and unable to escape
Burning with black dreams
Enslaved to brutal masters
On whom I wish evil ends.
To be free of them – is to fly!
I enjoy everything, the sunlight through the windows
Bare feet on carpet, the colour of my dress,
Smell of my skin
My mind is clear, clean as snow melt
My fingers are alive; I perceive and create
I soak it all up
To get me through
When the haunting starts again.