Using Distraction DBT Skill for Dissociating & Distress

I have been having more episodes of dissociation lately.  There is one topic in particular that triggers me – my boyfriend is planning to go away for a while.  Almost every time he begins to discuss the particulars, I sense myself drifting off. Sometimes I don’t sense anything and realize it after a few minutes have gone by.  I sort of just go into a deep stare into outer space, and though I can hear the sound of his voice, I can no longer make out his words.  My thoughts take me somewhere else.  It’s the strangest thing.

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I know that my brain dissociates as a self-care mechanism, but I’d like to reduce the impact of these episodes and their frequency so as to not have them disrupt my life (as they have in the past).

What I began to do today, as we sat down to lunch together and he brought the topic up, and I felt myself beginning to disengage and disconnect, is use the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)  Distracting Skill of “Thoughts.”

From Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual:

You can distract yourself “with other thoughts:  Count to 10; count colors in a painting or tree, windows, anything; work puzzles; watch TV; read.”

What I chose to do was name the different attributes of my boyfriend’s shirt:blue, buttons, pocket on the sleeve, pocket over left side of chest, stitching near the collar, etc.”  It actually helped me to stay grounded.  I could feel a strong pull to escape mentally and not hear what he was saying, but I continued to hear what he said.  I didn’t feel as emotionally charged by what he was saying, though.

This was an interesting experience, and I plan to use this skill a bit more to see if it continues to be effective.  It felt very “grounding” to me.

Thank you for reading.
More Soon.

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