Dissociation, self-harm & compartmentalising

poem written by me in 2014 about dissociation

I came across this poem dated from back in 2014 that I wrote after an episode of dissociation. Reading it back now, isn’t triggering, but I can really remember the sadness and desperation I felt during that time. 

I would remember some of the time when I dissociated, but most of the time that I spent in that state is still a mystery. There were times where I’d wake up in the morning and find I’d hurt myself somewhere along the way, but often struggled to grab any memory of doing it. Only a few months ago, I found a ‘stash’ of blades that I never knew existed.

Knowing that at any point, there was a chance I could go into this state and hurt myself so much is terrifying. There were times when self-harm brought me out of the dissocisted state; not sure if that was a shock-reaction ‘cos I’d suddenly be thinking “wtf are you doing?” And I wouldn’t know what had triggered that incident of self-harm. When my mood was really low, I lived in constant fear that I’d go into a dissociative state and seriously harm or kill myself. That was more scary than ‘consciously’ feeling suicidal. At least when I wasn’t dissociated, I still felt in control of my behaviour. When i was dissociating,  the bits of it that I remember, it was like I was stood watching myself. And no matter what was happening, how I was behaving, I could only watch. I never knew how to get back to myself. It felt like my spirit had left, I was stood in my body, watching my spirit. In this poem, I describe an “out-of-control killer” trying to kill me. That killer, was also me. At the time, I thought that I was just seeing that because that’s what I was doing to myself. And maybe that is right. But here’s the psychological part that my brain’s just made sense of…

I was’t trying to kill myself, as a whole person. Maybe, I was trying to ‘kill’ or repress a part of me that I didn’t like… My inner child. I had unintentionally distanced my inner child from my adult part, because the adult me couldn’t cope with the overwhelming feelings that stemmed from childhood. My mind created different ‘compartments’ for the different parts of my personality and “I” shifted from these different parts, depending on events, environment, company etc. For example, the ‘adult Kerri’ was very sensible, professional when I needed to be, came across as quite confident. The ‘little Kerri’ felt very hurt, vulnerable, ashamed. The ‘punitive parent’ part of my personality was very hard on little me. Looking back, when I saw my inner child in my own mind, I despised what I saw.

Basically, if you look at the image I scribbled on the poem. The “adult” me, who knew right from wrong and wanted to be balanced and ok, is the one watching from a distance. The punitive me, who despised little me was the one who wanted to destroy that child I saw. The child I saw, was my inner-child.

When I started to try and acknowledge my inner-child and understand her feelings, it helped me to stop separating parts of my personality, and “I” started to become more whole.

Happy to report, no dissociation for over a year. In fact, no dissociation since I started to see my inner-child as a vulnerable child. Also, since I started acknowledging all parts of my personality, by being honest with those close to me about how I was feeling. For example, anger was a difficult emotion for me to share with other people. If ever I felt angry about something, I’d usually hide my anger. It would then build up inside and sometimes lead to self-harm. Now, even just saying aloud to somebody “I’m really angry at…” It helps, because I’m no longer denying my anger.

Anyway, I’ve learned a lot by writing this. I hope it helps you to understand it a little. I do want to point out, everyone is different and I am only going from my own experiences.

Any feedback welcome 😊

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