- Bill Cook
The Consciousness You Are Trying to Reach Has Been Disconnected
More and more often recently, I've caught myself disconnected from reality. My brain, my consciousness, it doesn't function like it should, it barely functions at all. I'm learning I have some kind of dissociative disorder, my therapist agrees. I'll get home from work and sit on my bed and just gaze into my phone screen, scrolling past everything and taking in nothing. Used to be I just figured I was kind of thoughtless, or lazy, or bored. ADHD or something. But it happens every day now, and it's become physiological. Hours in, I'll begin to hear a ringing in my ear, droning, so subtle and quiet I hardly notice at first.
What I'm told and what I read says that dissociation is a trauma response; your conscious mind detaches from reality around you to keep you safe. Your body does that same thing, that's what "shock" is. Fight or flight kicks in, and your body prepares you for the worst. Your senses go numb, your heart races, in case you're in a situation where you might need quick reflexes and higher pain resistance. Stick around like that for too long, permanent psychological damage follows. You develop complexes and conditions, trauma disorders, anxieties, all that colorful, expressive, personable flavor that supposedly makes us human. You have to laugh, that for all the complex development mankind has made - industry, civilization, whatever - we're still so primal. The same principles apply to Gordon, the maintenance man at your nearest laundromat who's got a really embarrassing tribal-style armband tattoo, as they do to the rest of the animal kingdom.
You know all of this, though, of course. In my experience writing, if you say some already-established bullshit but with longer and more complex words and phrasing, you can almost pass for writing something of substance. Kind of like when you were 15 and your high school English teacher had you write an essay about fuckin' Walt Whitman or some shit, you don't know because you were practicing drawing dicks and the cool 'S' on the front of your folder. So you really bust your ass stretching the word count, using the same in-browser thesaurus you're using a decade later to write this very article, trying to make it seem like you have even the slightest clue what you're talking about. And you get a D+! Probably out of pity, but thanks for not failing me, Mrs. Lawrence! I'm getting really good at drawing these dicks, I can basically differentiate between circumcised and uncircumcised.
So, I've found that they're right, these scholars and doctors saying dissociation is a defense mechanism. Yes! That's right, I, the mid-20's washout with no college education who never learned how to snap his fingers and who still listens to Blink-182 in 2023, am telling you that the past century of neuroscience and clinical psychology were not in vain. They were right! Sing it from the rooftops!
I'm saying that, at least since I've really become aware of it and began taking notice of when it was occurring, dissociation has developed into something comfortable for me. It's an effective defense mechanism. Before you tell me that that's a terribly bad method of coping for me, yeah, of course it's bad. It's terrible! It's kind of like dependency on a substance, except with the added risk of completely losing yourself in the recessive vacuum of the subconscious mind. Or like sleeping in on a day you were scheduled to go to work. You really shouldn't, but it feels so good. People with severe dissociative tendencies are currently researching my address so that they can track me down and fucking murder me for talking like this, I know. That or they stopped reading halfway through the article because, you know, they began dissociating.
A lot of the time, I write something deeply personal because I'd like to convey to someone out there who could find themselves reading my unholy blog - thanks for that, dear reader! - and who just might be in of a similar mindset that they're not alone in thinking that way. I'm the vocal minority, advocating for embracing negative mental health! The son of misery, whose soul was left behind by the gods somewhere along the way! It's the new way to be, all the cool kids are doing it. You wait, by 2030 you'll be hard-pressed to find a happy, enthusiastic, positive force in the world! What I'm saying is, sometimes it's really helpful for people whose minds tend to dwell on the negative to not feel so fucking alone. You know, I should save this for another article. I could go on about this subject.
What I've been writing today has been no exception - I feel like the discourse on dissociation is that it's something we should avoid at all costs, and while I can agree it's probably something to moderate and recognize, and to acknowledge as a trauma response and mental illness, I think it's helpful to talk about the fact that it feels really fucking good to mentally detach yourself completely. I used to, like, hate myself for being in those kinds of chapters in my life. Shame myself for days I'd spend not doing anything, having nothing productive to show for my time at the end of the day. After all, time is fleeting and you could expire at a moment's notice - boy, would it suck to spend your last day on Earth, your last 24 hours within your mortal coil, sitting around, mind empty, watching nature documentaries and eating Raisin Bran Crunch.
You ever wonder, if you were to drop dead today, what would happen to all of the loose change in the center console of your car? You tell yourself that, eventually, you'll clean your car out, and put all of those pennies and nickels in your coin bank at home with the rest of them. Then, what, are you supposed to open it one day, count it all up, make an appointment with your bank so that they can either deposit it for you, or convert it into bills? You think, oh, I probably have $200 here, it's been 8 years of saving after all! And then you count it and it's, like, $12. And you know it's not going to be an even dollar amount! It's gonna be $12.37. And then what do you do with the 37 cents? You start yourself a whole new collection of coins. A new pile at the bottom of your car's center console.
And maybe that's what life is. Moving from pile-to-pile of dirty useless trash that serves no ultimate purpose, and just takes up more and more space.
Man, what the fuck am I talking about?
Do I have this worldview, this belief that nothing ever contributes anything meaningful to the ongoing life force, because I don't contribute, and I don't want to face that I'm alone in that uselessness? Because I know that this article is the kind of energy I put out into the world? Passionate, despairing negativity? Empathetic apathy? Glorifying mental health problems and cynicism, without taking responsibility for any of it? And knowing all of this puts me to a level of shame I'd rather not address directly in a constructive and healing way, and instead convert that shame into a warm, comforting blanket I can hide myself away in? Or is it just that paying the yearly fee for this web domain is still cheaper than having access to regular therapy sessions?