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Dissociation and You: Making a Grounding Kit
by eunoia January 29th 2009, 07:47 PM

Dissociation and You: Making a Grounding Kit.

If you ever find yourself unable to remember what you have recently done, be it for five minutes or hours at a time, you may be dissociating. Being unable to remember recent events is called amnesia or memory loss. For some people this is a medical condition but for others is due to dissociation. If you know or think you are dissociating, it is very important to tell a health professional as it may be indicative of severe trauma or a larger problem.

Dissociation is an unintended, often unwanted, but sometimes preventable detachment from one’s surroundings. The mind dissociates for many reasons, and it is said that everyone dissociates to varying degrees. For some people this simply means getting lost in a daydream, while for others it becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism used to shut oneself out from the world, often causing them to experience flashbacks (positive or negative) and/or to lose time. A person does not have to have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) to dissociate.

What dissociation feels like is difficult to describe. Your brain may begin to feel “fuzzy” while the people and things around you sound, look, and feel far away. While dissociation is not always preventable, even in the presence and care of health professionals, there are things you can do to try and “bring yourself back” to your surroundings. This is called grounding, or reestablishing and maintaining awareness of your surroundings. Grounding is usually done by utilizing all, or most, of the senses.

Making a “Grounding Kit.”

Choose a small pouch, tin, or container (an Altoids tin, for example) that you can easily carry with you (in a pocket, a purse, or backpack). Use objects which stimulate your senses to fill the container.

Touch: You can choose a smooth rock, an arrowhead, fabric, or other things. Pick as many things as you like. Most craft stores have fabric samples—choose one that is particularly stimulating.

Smell: A common “ingredient” in grounding kits is the alcohol swab. These are individually wrapped swabs soaked in alcohol, usually used to clean a wound. The smell can sometimes help to break through the fog.

Taste: A stick of gum or a mint might work well for your kit. Try to pick something that you feel has a particularly strong flavor, like peppermint.
Make sure any food is properly sealed.

Sight and Sound: The rest of your grounding kit will be made up of sight and sound. You can choose objects to place in your kit or practice looking at and listening to the things around you. If you feel it may be helpful, take notes to put in your kit of ways you can ground yourself using sight and sound.

Once your kit is assembled, you can use the objects in it to stimulate your senses. Doing this will help you to remain aware of the "real" world, which may aid in staying grounded.
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