You may wonder: what is Dissociation and why should I vote for it as Class President?
Vote for Dissociation 2020! Big D is a potentially helpful, potentially harmful way to experience major trauma like a global pandemic. Dissociation has a wide network of friends of all ages who use it to cope with the stress in their lives, and it wants to introduce itself to you! Don’t be shy. Dissociation is just looking to say hi, talk a bit about itself, and help you learn to identify its characteristics so that you can stay in good health throughout this stressful time!
Hi, I’m Dissociation, and I’m a defense mechanism that human beings exhibit as a response to trauma. I have three main branches, but this election campaign will highlight and examine just one of my sides: the depersonalization-derealization disorder (DDD for short).
DDD is a trauma response that presents as a “sense of detachment or being outside yourself,” according to the Mayo Clinic. If you find yourself removed from experiencing your thoughts, feelings, and actions firsthand, and are instead watching them occur like in a movie, you may be experiencing DDD.
“I generally think dissociation is understood as on a spectrum from daydreaming, reveries, getting very lost in a task, which can be super healthy,” says social worker and psychotherapist, Jeremy Wexler, of the Montreal Therapy Centre. “It’s highly adaptive,” Wexler continues, “except when it becomes too much or is over functioning or is preventing people from using other ways of coping.”
Considering my positive traits, as above described, I implore that you consider voting for me. I do my best to help people in hard times.
In a time of great stress and agitation, like in a global pandemic, it is normal that people will work out new ways to cope, but it’s important that those coping strategies are good for your health, and reinforce your sense of wellbeing.
When the brain forms a habit, such as a repeated response to a stimulus, it forges and strengthens that connection in the brain. Then, the brain will continue reinforcing that neural pathway by repeating the connection.
For example, if you bite your nails in a moment of stress to calm or distract yourself, you’re creating a connection in the brain between calming agitation and biting your nails. Next time you’re feeling agitated, and you bite your nails, you will fortify the habit. Then, in the future, if you are in a stressful situation, you are more likely to bite your nails then too.
“Dissociation may be part of a fight, flight or freeze response that people have,” says Wexler. “[People who experience dissociation] may become more prone to it and experience it as adaptive. So it becomes a reflex that is reinforced over time. It might be useful to think of it as a reflex.”
Evidently, I am very adaptable, and am always ready to come help during times of stress. Consider me, Dissociation, to lead you through 2020, in brief moments of daydreaming here or there, as you navigate a global health crisis.
I, your humble candidate, am the body’s attempt to help people cope with stress and trauma. Good intentions aside, I can also exacerbate harm instead of muting it, which I want to be transparent about.
With that said, there are some instances when I can be a helpful resource too, so long as you experience me on the milder end of my spectrum. If you experience my more severe symptoms, please reach out to loved ones for help. You are not alone.
I’m a complicated mechanism that can potentially lead to dysfunctional behaviours. Some associated disorders include an increased risk of other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and eating disorders, personality disorders, substance use disorder, and self-harm.
Symptoms can last “only a few moments or come and go over many years,” according to the Mayo Clinic. While I promise consistency, I can be a persistent — even pervasive — experience that proves hard to manage without treatment. Treatment can include talk therapy and/or medication.
If you vote for me, I will do my best to make you proud, so long as you take care of your health, reach out to loved ones consistently, and are proactive if my symptoms intensify.
Vote for Dissociation 2020 if you want to get through the COVID-19 pandemic with a little more daydreaming, and a little less nail biting!
If you think you’re experiencing severe symptoms of Dissociation, please consider reaching out to a health practitioner, like your doctor or a psychologist. To find a psychologist, visit the Ordre des Psychologues du Quebec website. Additionally, you can always access free listening services from designated organizations.
Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam