Tabula Rasa

Dissociation is a true talent of mine, and believe me, it is a talent. At some point in the last two decades I learned to shift myself outside of the body the same way cigarette smoke haloes the smoker for an instant on the exhale, a sunlit cloud of lovely bitterness. I can wait there, if not indefinitely, then for long enough.

It’s a peculiar feeling, this weightless cessation of personhood. I have no one and nothing to identify with or against, I am not in conflict or in a state of desire. I am no body in a body, and the body’s senses are warped and heightened until the world appears to be passing in crystalline slow motion. It is dissolution on a personal level, I have returned to a blank slate and could now be anything, I am just as likely to become the pink petals of fallen cherry blossom as the high-pitched song of a speeding train. I am not merely dissociating, I am meditating.

I receive the sensory input with intense clarity. The raindrops gleaming on bright yellow tulips. The surface of moving water like silk in a breeze. Powerful aeroplane lights piercing the darkening sky like a star on a mission, and the sky itself in all its shapeshifting parallel dimensions; illuminated silver-grey the whole of last week, deep gunmetal drifts of early evening cloud passing swiftly through the atmospheric levels on their own mysterious voyages.

Easy to become nothing under such a sky.


My favourite place to meditate (dissociate – dissolve) is the hospital. I wander the halls for hours some evenings, or sit on a line of silent chairs outside closed departments, waiting outside the body like so many other people there, becoming the light reflecting off a linoleum floor. To my mind, becoming the nothing

– Except, not nothing, see: here is the multi-hued sheen of a starling’s body, here is the ochre painted wall above the cobbled streets which remind me of Florence, here is the ghost of a woman’s perfume –  

is not, I think, a symptom of anything terrible. It is not unreality, it is pure reality, and I read about Zen and wonder if they’d lock up all the happy nothings in their orange robes.

These moments of absolute sensation uncluttered by thought or attachment are a blessing, not pathology. It may have been born of trauma, but the scarring heat of the forge doesn’t make a sword less brilliant, it creates its edge. I am not suffering when I dissociate, any more than the starling’s petroleum rainbow feathers are suffering, any more than the yellow tulips feel pain. I am a long way away from such concerns. I am a clear column of ice and air.


Questions For a First Date

What kind of music are you into?*

Who’s your favourite author?**

What’s your favourite unsolved axe murder?***

I’m not very adept socially. That is to say, I have a horror of conversation 101. I don’t mean that in a self-conscious way, like someone trying to be deep on their profile, a paragraph under a selfie of a man at Machu Picchu that reads; ’Talk to me about the stars, not the weather.’ I just mean that any attempt at what passes for the more preliminary communication between socialised primates will probably always confuse and elude me. I can make anything weird, even when I don’t mean to. Perhaps especially then.

That was hello, for people better at this than me.

My name is Ira, and I have had many diagnoses over the years. Some I agree with, others not so much. The brain is a strangely illuminated chapel with its own wayward saints defying martyrdom, and we all pray differently there. Mental illness is what I suffer from on paper. I believe I am near-tragically sane.

This blog is an attempt to recount the things I discover during therapy for dissociative and personality…Issues. I can’t really say I hope anyone who discovers it enjoys it, but maybe you’ll find something useful or even beautiful in here. One should never have something in one’s house that is neither of those two things.


* Whatever gets me to The Still Place. Treats for my synesthesia. Keys to the ribcage.

** Unfair question, better to ask: which books make you feel as though you are meeting a hidden dimension of yourself when you read them, as though you had opened a wardrobe door and found something else standing there wearing your face.

*** Hinterkaifeck. Yes, yes, I know…Technically a mattock.