This Is Mental Clouding

June 20, 2011 Holly Gray

I've been trying for four days now to finish an article on depersonalization, one of five primary ways dissociation manifests. I wanted to address the milder episodes of depersonalization most people experience at one time or another. But I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, and severe depersonalization is part of living with DID. Ironically enough, it's depersonalization itself - specifically, mental clouding - that's preventing me from finishing that article. I've finally decided that if I'm going to continue to try to write in a highly depersonalized state, it makes sense to stop fighting it and simply do my best to describe what I'm experiencing. The article I intended to publish today will have to wait until I can think clearly again.

One of the important differences between depersonalization experiences of normal people exposed to danger or reacting to stress and those of psychiatric outpatients is the matter of "mental clouding." The reports of accident victims' and normal people's reactions to stress show that they were fully alert to their circumstances at the time of their episodes of depersonalization. Psychiatric patients report more experiences of mental clouding. Instead of being sharper mentally, they experience a "dumbing down" when they detach from themselves. - The Stranger in the Mirror, Marlene Steinberg and Maxine Schnall

2411188184_cc141117a0Mental Clouding Slows Cognitive Processes to a Crawl

I'm not mentally sharp right now. I cannot think clearly at all. I have re-read the first paragraph of this post six times now and I'm still not certain what I'm supposed to be writing about, despite the fact that I'm fairly confident I stated the topic of this post clearly in said first paragraph.

Oh Right, Mental Clouding

Mental clouding is something people like me, people who have Dissociative Identity Disorder, experience chronically. I know I'm capable of describing it in a way that makes sense but not right now, evidently. My thoughts are too slippery and I can't seem to follow them to any logical conclusion. Here's what I know: people say things like, "I feel foggy," and "I can't think." Or maybe they don't. I feel like those are things normal people say sometimes and I was going to say, 'See, extrapolate that and you have an idea what severe depersonalization feels like.' But now I can't remember if people really do say those things or not. I also can't remember what extrapolate means and I would look it up but I'm trying to show you what mental clouding is like, not edit the mental clouding into something presentable. Which, quite frankly, I'm not capable of right now anyway.

Am I Making Sense Yet?

I said I was going to describe mental clouding, but I fear all I've done is tell you that mental clouding is preventing me from describing mental clouding. Maybe, hopefully, that makes its own kind of sense. I suppose that's one of the benefits of writing about Dissociative Identity Disorder as someone who has it: DID symptoms interrupt life, and sometimes that's hard to hide. Which may say as much about what living with Dissociative Identity Disorder is like as my clearest, most well-written articles do. Or perhaps that's wishful thinking from a mentally clouded brain.

This took me four hours to write.

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APA Reference
Gray, H. (2011, June 20). This Is Mental Clouding, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Holly Gray

April, 23 2013 at 4:06 pm

I don't have racing thoughts. Often I feel like I have no thoughts unless someone interacts with me. I feel blank a lot. The group therapists when I've spoken with them one-on-one can't believe this. I've been given so many damn diagnoses but they're only partial fits and all the treatment is so rudimentary it doesn't address why I am that way rather than trying to address symptoms rather than the cause of the continuing symptoms. Medications don't do much of anything at all.

April, 23 2013 at 3:58 pm

Does anyone have a sneaky alter? I know I have an alter, but she pretends to be me (the core me). She doesn't ask to be called a different name, she responds to my name but insists she's female but knows her body (my body)isn't female but wants to change it. This alter takes over sometimes for what to the core me feels like months with few breaks in between. Sometimes I have no recollection of her activities and sometimes I have some but its like I'm watching out of someone else's eyes (no control over doing something that is counterproductive). Mental clouding and headaches I think are when I'm trying to take control or vice versa. Either way its an intermediary state between control by one or the other. In my alter state, I'm capable of reading contracts apparently pretty well when she has a very high state of control but when in lesser control, neither one of seems to be able to do so, or so I hope. I would hope that my alter isn't smarter than my core self, but sometimes it seems that may be the case.
Last doctor wanted to merely label me as Psychotic and pump me full of Seroquel which has no positive effect for me and a lot of bad ones and yet go through my day making all my decisions with no help (makes me less lucid and capable rather than the reverse). At least part of me is lucid and makes decisions most of the time, though its a crapshoot as to which one of us it is.

Sharon Riley
August, 9 2011 at 9:17 am

I haven't been diagnosed with DID, but I suspect it with every article I read. This is another one I identify with. I use to be an avid reader & from the time I was a kid I wrote, up until a few years ago. I couldn't figure why I stopped & haven't been able to pick it back up. I know now it's mental clouding, it limits everything I do, or should I say don't do anymore.
I watched a program about ptsd & it gave me answers because so many of the enterviewees had the same symptoms I was experiencing, clouding being one of them, but they didn't call it that. They said they just stopped writing, reading, etc.
I have fought this for years now, but I can't any longer. It is so disruptive to my life, if you can call it a life. I only hope I can find a therapist who believes me & supports me in managing this.
Right now I am so confused, by all the different diagnosis. Depression, anxiety, ptsd, ADD, bipolar. Can't I just have one? How do you deal with all of this? And they all interplay, especially when I'm stressed or get triggered in some way. I can't concentrate on all that, or even one thing. I'm going to call a couple of therapists today.
Thank you for all your help.

July, 8 2011 at 8:37 pm

i experience this a lot too but am not diagnosed with DID. Cant this be similar to ADD? Ive also been experiencing depersonalization for over a year now and i am noticing that i cant stay with my thoughts. like i have racing thoughts all night and sooner or later i just cant stay with the thoughts so its like part of me sleeps but the thoughts are still there....??? anyone else have this? also i in no way have multiple distinct personalities.....but i think i have a bit of what you are describing Holly. obviously i am scared shitless over "what if i have this illness". could it be something else? idk good articel

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Holly Gray
July, 20 2011 at 9:10 am

Hi Jesse,
Sorry for my delayed response.
Depersonalization isn't only a symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Like I wrote here in this post, it's something people without DID experience too. So no, experiencing depersonalization doesn't mean one has DID. If you've been experiencing it chronically for over a year, it's certainly something I'd tell a professional about. But it doesn't mean you have DID.
Also, what you've described here, racing thoughts that you can't stick with, is not mental clouding. Mental clouding is an extreme slowing down of cognitive functioning, not a speeding up of it.
Please don't let one article on mental clouding - which it doesn't even sound like is what you're experiencing - scare you. :)

July, 1 2011 at 3:34 pm

"I’d think something, forget it entirely within seconds, re-read what I’d written to try and get the thought back, think something else, grab it fast and type it, forget the rest, re-read, and on and on and on."
I believe that I've been in this state for weeks now. I cannot seem to think my way through one single sentence. Very frustrating, you know? And as you have already stated, it's chronic.
What you wrote is very helpful. I believe it validates what many of us go through on a regular basis.
Thank you for that.

Holly Gray
June, 30 2011 at 7:03 am

I felt guilty for publishing this post because I didn't think it was very informative. Writing it, even though I gave in and just tried to dictate my thoughts rather than actually *write*, was like pulling teeth. I'd think something, forget it entirely within seconds, re-read what I'd written to try and get the thought back, think something else, grab it fast and type it, forget the rest, re-read, and on and on and on.
I'm so so glad to read these comments and know that it was helpful. Thank you all for taking the time to share. I really appreciate it.

June, 29 2011 at 6:19 pm

Thank you such much Holly. I find your information so helpful. I too experience the same thing and i will often say my mind is foggy, I can access information in bits sometimes but things do not seem clear at that time. Prior to being diagnossed with DID I was treated in hospital and given 12 ECT treatments. It's hard for me to understand what is a result of DID and what could be a result of ECT. Thank you so much everyone for you comments and help. I live in a small community in Canada and therapy and support if very difficult to find in the province I live in.

June, 25 2011 at 10:31 pm

@ Will- with all due respect concerning your conclusions about Casey Anthony, I feel I must point out that nowhere on this blog does anyone suggest that people with DID are baby killers. In my opinion, she just did not want to be bothered with her anymore and anything else she says is just her trying to save her ass.

June, 25 2011 at 7:49 am

I was just confounding....the sentences would not form....anything I did write sounded alien to me....and I had to force out papers like dry heaving....

June, 25 2011 at 7:47 am

Wow, you know I'm glad you wrote this. I, too, have DID and experienced something like that this year, but I had no idea it was related to me having DID. Where I used to whip out papers in a couple of hours, now I sat in front of the computer absolutely stuck, unable to make the words come out, not even sure what I wanted or had to say. I felt really stuck. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

June, 25 2011 at 7:31 am

You hit the nail right on the head Holly, I can hardly process anything at times when my mind fogs up to the point, I can't remember what I did a minute ago and Static Nonsense I get like that too it is very frustrating.
I want to write but my mind just can't sieve through all the fog to even process the simple process to write things down.
I also find that with my DID if you loose time afterwards I get a foggy mind, I don't know of anyone else can relate to this.
And it frustrates me when I have almost got what I am trying to process, or say or write and it runs away from me out of my reach.
Its not nice at all.

June, 25 2011 at 2:55 am

I find that it can be so clear in my head, but when I try to speak it or write it, it all jumbles up or I just can't remember what I wanted to say anymore. It feels like a movie scene where you're is trying to catch someone and they are always just out of reach...just about to grab hold of your thoughts & they slip around the corner again. Frustrating because they are so close, but unreachable.

Static Nonsense
June, 24 2011 at 4:41 am

posts like this make me think that you're in my head! exactly what you described is one of the reasons why i can't write as often as i'd like, bc i'm always afraid it won't make sense. so i keep trying to wait for moments when it will, when i can articulate what i want to say well, but those moments don't come very often. more often than not i'm stuck in my fog.

June, 21 2011 at 6:17 pm

Hi Holly, you are very real and appreciate that you have published this blog as now I have a little better understanding of what DID is. I live in Orlando and their is a famous child murder trial going on ie., Casey Anthony which you may or may not have read about.
From what I have read I think she may be a victim of DID in the most severe way and not know it.
If my hunch is right then she may not get a fair trial if she is truly a DID victim because no one recognizes this, at least not willing to discuss this openly in a legal sense and she may get the death penalty if the state procescuting attornies as successful in moving the jury to their thinking and find her guilty.
sad she can not read your articles and ask for help because I dont think she or anyone else recognizes this trait in her.

June, 21 2011 at 9:54 am

wow, i have this all the time and i didn't know it was a symptom of DID! i've been diagnosed a long time and i still didn't know that. it's worse lately, i can't read a book anymore and have to repeat endlessly when i'm writing in my journal. thanks!

June, 21 2011 at 3:37 am

Makes perfect sense :)

June, 20 2011 at 5:40 pm

Holly...thank you so much for this post...even though it took four hours to write! You couldn't have described it better..this is my life every day! When people write very eloquently about DID I get confused, and don't really understand, but reading this very realistic and honest portrayal was amazing, thank you! It even made me laugh, not at you, but at the whole stupid situation of having DID. How to describe something that by its natures stops you describing anything?! For this brief moment I feel not is so nice to feel that this is a real problem that other people have too, and that I am not just flaky/grumpy/erratic/eccentric/stupid/wicked and/or a sociapath. Thanks Holly, this was a great post!

June, 20 2011 at 4:14 pm

Holly- thanks for sharing this post. I am struggling alot with this right now. It is very defeating. And I feel so alone in my world. Its not something that my support understands and they dont know what to say to me.

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