Sunday was a very strange day. I was not able to do my usual routine things because there was a city marathon and the crowds kept me from going to my favorite Starbucks for early afternoon coffee and sticker-making. So I ended up spending much of the day in bed. Too much of the day. Considering the mood that I was in, getting outside would have been the best choice, but with anchoring routines in disarray, I could not conceive of a good Plan B on the fly.
Eventually, I could not handle it anymore and I HAD to go out. There was no choice or debate. So I set up a good “defensive” music playlist, grabbed my things and headed into the city. Unfortunately, I forgot to consider that Starbucks closes early on Sunday. So I was downtown with no place to go. I sat on a bench to consider my options when a police car rolled by (probably just post-marathon security). But, I stupidly made eye contact with the policeman in the passenger seat.
Rules #1 – 500: Don’t make eye contact with police.
I know that I’m in Germany and the police here are different, but my body and instincts still respond whenever I see their cars or uniforms. Making eye contact triggered ultimate fear and stress. Then… “Activate dissociation procedures…”
I am not sure how long I was skipping in and out of reality, but I know that I did things that I was not aware of until the next morning. I went to a gas station and ate two packs of gummi candies (the empty bags on the floor of my room in the morning were the only clue). And I put up some stickers (I vaguely remember one set and only the photos are evidence of two others). Thank goodness my actions were all only Rated G.
This is the scariest type of dissociation for me. Being active and unaware. I am, however, fortunate that I do not have personality changes to further complicate things. But this is plenty enough. The uncertainty, the insecurity, the guilt and the fear is plenty enough to handle already. Thank goodness, I have not had any serious or dangerous problems in a long time, but I am always worried since I don’t have control.
When the dissociation starts I try to use my skills to break the cycle and re-stabilize, while also getting to a safe place as quickly as possible. But sometimes, the warning signs come too quickly, or they are masked by another feeling and I can’t detect their approach. This is why being sleepy/tired is tricky (I can’t tell when my body is shutting down), or being too happy/excited is tricky (the nervous stimulation is fun but also triggering).
Today in a group session session, I learned that I probably zone out sporadically for short times during the day. Almost everyone in my group had examples of when they tried to greet me and I just completely ignored them. I was shocked. I had no idea. I told them that I would never ignore them if they greeted me. The only explanations are that my concentration had locked onto something incredibly deep and I was checked out, or that I was dissociating and “I” was not there. My body was present and moving but “I” was probably gone. They said that, if they didn’t know me otherwise, they wouldn’t like me. This made me sad. I always thought that I was friendly, but in the face of such evidence… Ugh. I asked for their help in such situations. “Please speak louder or do anything to help me come back. Where ever I am, I can assure you I don’t like being there.” I’m trying to learn how to be more open, but this really doesn’t help. I’d rather stay a stranger than handle the guilt of being an unpredictable friend.
These are the stickers I put up. I kind of remember the “End War. End Hate” stickers, but I don’t know where they are. This is not a part of the city that I know. I don’t remember the two purple stickers at all.