Using Safe Objects For Dissociation
Sunday, February 15 2015 Sherry Polley
Many people have experiences with dissociation, and at its most extreme, one may be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Sometimes dissociation is a pleasant alternative to dealing with the anxiety or fear that triggered it. Other times, however, dissociation itself may be very scary and cause anxiety. One tool for coping with frightening dissociation is to use a safe object.
My Safe Object for Dissociation
I received Mr. Bear as a present for my third birthday. Mr. Bear was a medium-sized, dark brown, teddy bear that was important to me through every part of my life. I grew very fond of him and took him with me to a lot of places, including the local pool and even on vacations. I often held Mr. Bear when I went through hard times and he caught many of my tears.
When I was around five years old, I began dissociating. I recognized this at some point and learned that I could escape my reality this way. I trained myself to dissociate more often and more severely. I began to carry Mr. Bear with me everywhere. I knew that when I dissociated, he would keep me safe. He became like an alter personality himself, as I placed all of my fears into him, for him to take care of and manage. I believed that he protected me. Holding him close made me feel safe and helped me to not feel alone. I could rub his soft fur, and this helped to ground me back into reality.
What Other Safe Objects May I Use For Dissociation?
As an adult, I didn’t always feel comfortable carrying around a medium-sized teddy bear. I recognized that people looked at me strangely and that it made me stand out, which I didn’t want to do. I came up with some alternatives. One was a much smaller, also brown, teddy bear that could easily fit into a purse or bag. I didn’t have to carry him out in the open because just knowing that he was with me was enough to make me feel safe. When I did dissociate I could pull out this safe object for dissociation and be comforted.
One day I was given a bracelet by a friend of mine. I realized quickly that this would be my new safe object for dissociation. It was very sparkly and it shimmered in the light. I was fascinated with looking at it and watching it sparkle. When I dissociated, the intense shine helped to ground me, just as the soft teddy bears had done. I could take it off of my wrist and play with it between my hands, which gave me something tactile to touch, which was also grounding. I determined that this bracelet could also be as a protector, imagining that it had special powers against fear and anxiety.
Find Your Own Dissociation Safe Object
These are the three objects that I have used as safe objects, to protect and to ground me while I was dissociating. Practically anything could be used as a dissociation safe object, provided you can attach special meaning to it as something that protects you. If it has sensory qualities it will be particularly helpful for grounding. This could be something to touch, to see, or to hear. Have fun coming up with safe objects. Avoid choosing anything that can be seen as a weapon, however, as this may cause problems with authority, or even endanger yourself. Choose something personal or practical, something that makes you feel happy. Safe objects can make dissociation a little less traumatic.