Questions for sufferers who dissociate....

My gf has been in and out (mostly in, I think) a dissociative state for a month now. Are there ways anyone has found to "snap back" to yourself and stay put, or does it just take time? When she is able to talk about how she's feeling with me, she's frustrated and tired and can't get a grip on herself and she says she feels completely crazy. Yes she's in therapy, but an hour once a week doesn't do much when things are this bad. Any advice?


For me, it's a short thing. Not a constant state for a month.
It happens when I talk about my trauma, or something reminds me.
What I've learnt is this 'duel state' thing. Where I'm conscious of being sucked down into this disassociated state, but I'm also conscious of the here and now. Not always successful with it as sometimes I get overwhelmed with a part of me that is traumatised. But what keeps me in the here and now is someone talking; or trying to focus on things now, and really reminding myself that i'm safe, and trying to sooth/communicate with the part of me that is feeling this.
I've been reading a book called "healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors" by Janina fisher. Which is a book for therapists and clients about disassociation and DID. I've found it helpful.

I can't speak for your partner, but are you sure what she is going through is a disassociative state this past month? What makes you think it is her disassociating that has caused this rupture in your relationship?
She told me she felt it coming on, that she was checking out, and she didn't know what it was going to be like this time because when it happened in the past she didn't have the context of cptsd. And she's definitely straddling both worlds. One foot in the present, one foot locked in sheer terror, anger, confusion, etc. She's exhausted. She needs help with the kids, and having them with her helps keep her present, she's just not well enough to care for 3 kids and herself right now. Her divorce terms are very restrictive, her ex has first right of refusal if she needs a babysitter and he's available, he gets dibs on watching them if he wants to. So of course he's doing that, because I'm sure he thinks he can worm his way back by being soooooooo helpful. She pretty much hides in the bedroom while he's there if she can.
They also have a trauma bond that hasn't had time to be fully broken. Cycle of abuse shit. He's the only person who has been in her life, they got together as teenagers, so he stayed with her through all the bad shit, so when she's terrified of her own mind and capabilities reaching out to him is reflex. She knows he's abusive, she knows what he did to her, and me, but she said she either can't help feeling like she needs it to be him helping right now, or she doesn't know how to help it. So here we are.

Back to the dissociation, I think she's so stressed and exhausted, it's easy for her to slip in and out of the present to try to cope. Being checked out is easier than facing a lifetime of abuse and neglect.


Sounds like she's got a really complicated mix of leaving an abusive relationship and disassociating?
Feel for you.
Because how do you voice your needs in this? and how much do you tolerate to be kind and compassionate towards her, but that being at the expense of what you need? Not an easy balance for you at all.

Is there a way of being able to carve out a routine with her through this?
My routine right now is give her space, no one has ever respected her boundaries or accepted what she is or is not capable of at times. Taking care of me is my priority, and trying to trust and have faith that we'll be back to our version of normal when the dust settles. She's too numb and checked out for a serious conversation about my feelings, she's just not well enough yet and I'm ok with that. I have loving, supportive friends and family, she has toxic, abusive, needy friends and family. I'm good, for now. Just trying this whole "patience" thing ?


Are there any more intensive trauma programs familiar with dissociation, where you are?

Or at least the possibility of more frequent therapy visits, or combined that with other mental health services?

I think prioritizing you and your health and needs and relationships is pretty key and cheers on having good support network. :tup:

Just thinking of how to make the load on both of you, slightly lesser. For she sounds like needing higher care and you sound like needing space from being an exhausted caretaker.


i coped by dissociation for years so the first thing I had to learn was to recognize I was doing it. Then came learning why

Those two things had to be addressed before I could even attempt to snap out of it.
Because dissociation often happens during the life and death phase of trauma. It's what allows you to park everything you are feeling and just focus on survival. Then it sticks with you because it's what kept you alive. That's why it is so hard to get rid of -- anytime you feel threatened you will go right back to that coping technique because you know it works.

After many years of therapy I'm better at seeing when I'm doing it but that doesn't mean I can always stop it. Like I still spend the entire month of January dissociated.
It's just easier than facing the emotions because feeling emotions can kill you.
Ya - I know it's not true
But I also know it is.

How do I snap out of it?
I don't.
I work on grounding myself and mediation and blah blah and eventually it lessens enough for me to start feeling again. But I can't make it stop just by wishing it would.

What you are doing right now -- by giving her time and space - is the most loving thing you can do. It's what hubby does with me. On some level I know he is there when I'm gone, but more importantly I know that he is going to be there when I get back.
Thanks everybody for responding. @Ronin I've found a very qualified psychotherapist who has dealt exclusively with ptsd for 10 years, but can't get my gf to entertain a new therapist at this point in time. Keeping it in my pocket for after this episode passes. @Freida Thank you for that insight. This site has helped me so much in such a short time gain a better understanding of what she's dealing with, and what I have to do to stay healthy as well.


I went through 4 years of dissociation, with almost no memories of that time. I'm not entirely certain how I came out of it, but I know that a counselor seemed to be the impetus for emerging. I still have moments - 40 years later - of dissociating into Girl2 or Girl1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy saved me.