I am Chris, a 53yr old male from New Zealand. I am a newcomer to this site having come across a post on the internet by Suzanne LaCombe (Shrinklady) on dissociation which had the following effect on me. One was to realise (or more to the point confirm) that I am in a chronic state of dissociation to the extent I now no longer know who I am or how to be, out in the real world or what I am doing from minute to minute, literally.
My memory of my life is now extremely vague which I find incredibly frustrating especially because it has a seriously detrimental effect when trying to explain to the various mental health professionals I have seen, how I am or what I am feeling (basically nothing, which obviously limits the ability to have any meaningful engagement) Professional diagnosis has ranged from melancholia to clinical depression to a bit of dissociation. To me it feels like I have had a lobotomy & have lost both my intellectual & emotional intelligence & as a result now have a serious personality disorder which I will never recover from as I no longer have any sense of self. That is my heartfelt belief & to deny that is to deny the truth.
I am totally disconnected from reality & as a result can no longer remember what reality in the normal world was like. It was Suzannes' description of an extreme dissociative state that prompted me to write in the hope that someone has suffered something similar (not wishing such a state on anybody I hasten to add) & has to some extent through whatever means somehow managed to get a grip on their lives again.
All I know is that I have no longer the cognitive ability or concentration to function at what I reckon is 1% of my previous capacity, this in my mind is no exaggeration. On top of that I no longer have a personality of any sort whereas once I loved a laugh & joke, loved life, appreciated nature & had lots of interests, now I am not interested in anything & with regards to nature/scenery it's as though I am blind & my other senses no longer register anything either. Is this the depression/dissociation or have I totally lost my mind?
When on the rare occasions I am in the company of other people I struggle to keep up with or understand conversations & try & fit in by hopefully nodding in what I hope are appropriate places.
If I dwell on any of this it just leads to total despair so quite possibly I avoid those feelings of loss & despair by dissociation.
I accept that the main cause of my current condition is a result of my actions in having an extramarital affair over a 5 year period & so acknowledge that I have reaped what I have sown or that karma has paid me a visit, I acknowledge that. I also know the affair caused massive inner turmoil that played havoc with my conscience, values & integrity & subsequently destroyed the lot as I maintained the affair (despite the feelings of overwhelming relief & that bordered on joy when I called it off on a number of occasions knowing deep inside I had done the right thing however there was a corresponding guilt that accompanied those occasions & I ended up going back). The hypocrisy, deceit, lies & dishonesty involved became the norm & affected every other area of my life until I became unrecognisable from the person I once was & that other people believed I was. My life had been a lie.
The longer the affair went on the less & less of a person I became. My actions inhabited my dreams (nightmares) & almost all my waking moments, injuries & ill health became commonplace, I ignored all of this or distracted myself by exercising obsessively even when injured. I dealt with issues of conscience by sleeping as little as 14hrs a week which induced a permanent feeling of jetlag which after a while became the norm but also served to lessen my inhibitions. I ignored the damage this severe lack of sleep was doing to my brain/mind although the signs were clearly there as I noticed my mental faculties weren't as sharp & I was becoming more forgetful but I just put it down to working too hard & being tired. I totally ignored the overwhelming feelings to stay in bed, the difficulty in doing simple things like brushing my teeth & carried on the best I could.
I know what I did was 100% wrong & totally selfish & the effects it has had on my family have been devastating although I am embarrassed/ashamed to say that in my current state at times I can no longer not see it due to my disconnection.
Prior to my mental breakdown everything just got faster & faster & faster, I became less & less competent in doing almost everything, things I previously enjoyed like soccer & golf, swimming running, keeping fit. One day I realised that I could no longer do my job when I was unable to understand what someone was trying to explain to me, I was nodding my head but had no idea what they were talking about. That night I had an intensely graphic, dark & terrifying nightmare in which I was hanging on by my fingertips to the bottom rung of a rope ladder above a bottomless black abyss & then being unable to hang on any longer, of letting & go falling into that abyss at which stage I had an epiphany that I would never ever get back into reality & that I had lost my mind which felt as though it had shattered into a thousand pieces that could never be put together again. I never went back to work after that & having been a police officer 24/7 for the best part of twenty years lost a major part of my identity. The conflict both morally & ethically of my affair also played out in my work. I remember saying to myself who am I to make decisions on people being right or wrong or dishonest when I was doing what I was doing & so subconsciously stopped making decisions which was a major part of my job as a Police Sergeant created major problems which eventually led to my breakdown.
This was over two & half yrs ago during which time I have regressed to the point that I unable to look after myself, I rarely go out because I am afraid of bumping into people who knew me as I was because deep down I know I am mentally & emotionally retarded. In such instances I put on an act to the best of my ability but that ability is fast eroding as I struggle to remember how I was. I find myself unable to relax because every single thing just serves to remind me I am no longer myself (or normal). I have no self respect, my mental ability on IQ tests is under 60 where once it was around 135, I have no emotions. I used to cry at feel good films (although I would always hide such emotions) & haven't been able to relax since the breakdown at all unless dissociated (or nowhere land as I call it which is taking over bigger & bigger chunks of my day. I have tried to work but am forever forgetting to do simple things & struggle to have conversations with people because at the end of the day I no longer feel human & therefore struggle to relate to people. Friends will talk about old times & I will pretend to know what they are talking about but I have no actual recall of such events & so am continuing the actions of the affair in being deceitful & pretending which again if I dwell upon such things sends me further into a tailspin.
Suzanne's description of the symptoms of dissociation made total sense to me & were basically what I have being trying to tell all & sundry about how my mind feels but due to my cognitive state & memory fugue I cannot explain myself clearly enough & end up going off on tangents. As mentioned I have tried psychotherapy but because I have disconnected so much from myself, my memory of my life is so vague that I was only able to engage at the most shallowest of levels.
I no longer recognise the "thing" that looks back at me if I am brave enough to look into a mirror. I just see a dead person that I am totally disconnected from. I have to constantly try & remember how I used to be otherwise I just sit & stare like a zombie. I have told mental health professionals that I can feel myself heading to a catatonic state which is a situation that is irreversible, I used to be scared but now because I am less & less aware and therefore less & less worried. I used to be a passionate & extremely competitive person & used to get upset that I have lost those traits but now because I have no memory of what those traits felt like I cannot reconnect to them & bring about their return in any aspects of life. There once was a time where I woke up every morning & wanted to yell out "help, please help now it just feels like absolute madness/nothingness.
An inner voice at the time of my breakdown told me that it was too late & to deny that is to deny ones absolute knowledge of one's self. I know in my soul which I feel has died that I am an evil & selfish person & hence have reaped the just desserts.
Of course this has had a massive affect on my family, my son has major issues himself because the way I have been, a policeman instead of a father, putting work before everything, not letting him see normal natural emotions & then of course the betrayal of the affair. The way my mind is or isn't more to the point & my lack of memory means I am unable to offer him or anyone else for that matter salient advice about anything.
I apologise if this has turned into a long winded, confusing waffle, I have tried to correct spelling errors (another reminder of my shortcomings as I used to be an excellent speller & writer). I guess I'm just looking for a slither of hope when the fact being I ceased to have any a long long time ago.