Dissociating and Losing Time, Should We Be Afraid?

People living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) often dissociate and lose time; it accompanies the diagnosis. However, as typical as this symptom is, many of us fear the most from our disorder.

This article will attempt to lay aside some of the fear and relate hope to those living like me with dissociative identity disorder.

What is Dissociation?

First and foremost, dissociation is a defense mechanism that every human being experiences. When we become frightened and trapped, experience road rage, or simply bored, we may dissociate into our minds so that we can escape.

When we feel dissociated, we feel disconnected from the world around us and ourselves. We may experience feeling detached from our bodies or feel like we and everything around us are unreal.

However, there are as many ways to experience dissociation as those who dissociate.

Experiencing dissociation can last anywhere from a few minutes all the way to a few months. If we dissociate for a long time, you are diagnosed with a dissociative disorder where dissociation is a common occurrence and is the go-to method for us to handle stress.

Dissociation is the only thing we could do when we were children in response to traumatic events we could neither escape nor control. Since our trauma was severe and repetitive, we learned early to runaway into our minds and form alters, but that is for a different post.

Losing Time

Perhaps one of the most common complaints I hear from readers is their fear of losing time. I fully understand this fear as I have had it in the past as well. However, I had lost up to two years before, and although it was traumatic to come to myself two years later than where I was, nothing horrible had happened.

I’m not saying bad things cannot happen while we are dissociated and losing time, but losing time goes along with DID’s territory, and most of the time, lost time is short with nothing out of the ordinary taking place.

Losing time does not necessarily mean an alter has taken over; it can also mean we have experienced dissociative amnesia.

Dissociative amnesia is itself a particular type of dissociative disorder that often accompanies DID that involves the inability to recall events and personal information beyond ordinary forgetting. Dissociative amnesia usually occurs when someone is pushed over the edge by trauma or stress.

What I am trying to say is that losing time is not something to fear. Indeed, fearing losing time can cause it to occur as we stress about it.

What to Do About Dissociation and Losing Time?

There is nothing you can do to control losing time or dissociation in the early stages of healing. In later stages, you can learn to recognize the signs that you might dissociate, avoid triggers, or use grounding techniques to keep you grounded. However, even people who are seasoned in the methods to stay in the present and not lose time are sometimes helpless.

The best defense against losing time is to relax and accept it as a part of who you are. Time is a torrential fluid substance for those of us who have DID, it flows past, with us riding on the outside of the wave, and we feel caught up in the eddies and cannot escape.   

I feel time used to be my worst enemy because I either couldn’t keep up with it, or it was stolen from me by dissociation. Now I try to relax and allow the experiences of losing time to flow past. I usually lose hours now, not months, and that is good enough for me.

My Final Words on Dissociation and Losing Time

The purpose of this article is to tell you this simple statement, you need not be afraid of dissociation or losing time. If you do worry over losing time and dissociation, you can make them worse.

Try instead to relax and allow yourself to go with the flow of time instead of seeing it as something you cannot control. No one can control time; it has flowed for eons and will flow long after we are gone; it is a fact of life.

Do not be afraid of losing time or dissociation. It is usual for people like us who live with dissociative identity disorder. Both have served us well in childhood and helped us survive to get revenge on those who harmed us by living and living well.

We must each lead a way of life with self-awareness and compassion, to do as much as we can. Then, whatever happens, we will have no regrets.~ Dalai Lama

Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce. ~ Vivian Komori


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