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Strategies for Dealing With Chronic Dissociation at University

There is a large group of people I have connected with on Twitter who experience symptoms similar to mine and through many conversations we’ve come up with suggestions and tips for each other to get through tough days.

  1. Sit In The Front: It’s not the coolest move, but it will most likely help you stay more grounded than sticking to the back rows. Intention can often be the opposite of dissociation, so if you remain paying attention and focused on your professor the less likely it’ll be that you’ll slip into a more disconnected kind of thinking and lose time.  
  2. Know Your Limits: Understanding your cycles of good and bad days and triggers for dissociation is crucial to strategizing for school. For example, the idea that I can sustain good levels of energy and a clear mind 5 days a week is unrealistic for me. But chances are I can manage to have 2 or 3 productive days. So for me, having the majority of my classes be in as few days as possible is the best option. Also, I tend to have more issues in the morning, so I chose later classes.   
  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Grounding techniques are handy, personal ways to keep dissociative feelings at bay. The more you practice them, the easier they are to do in a potentially stressful situation. Try the 5 Senses grounding method or one of these numerous body scanning techniques to bring yourself back to the here and now if you realize you’re not where you need to be. 
  4. Schedules: Structure is the best possible weapon to use against chronic dissociation issues. Not only do routines provide context for missing time if you are having symptoms (ie: “I’m missing two hours after lunch but before my last class”), but a consistent schedule will give you more freedom to do things such as obtain extra support from mental health professionals or friends, allow yourself downtime and be thoughtful about your next steps. 

Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful to you or provide a starting point for you to develop your own tips and tricks. Do you have things that have worked well for you? Feel free to share in the comments!

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