‘You feel like you’re living in a dream; nothing seems real anymore.’
Alexandra Garrick suffers from a mental health condition called Dissociative Disorder.
It is a condition still largely unknown, but when Alexandra started to notice the symptoms, the diagnosis helped her come to terms with feelings she didn’t initially understand.
‘I first started to notice symptoms about five years ago’ explained the 25 year old from Pudsey. ‘I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and I just didn’t recognise the person looking back. When I realised there was a name for what I was feeling, it kind of made me feel a lot less alone in the world.'
Alexandra told her story on ITV Yorkshire in Oct '18.
Now, Alexandra, 24, wants to help people understand more about dissociative disorders, so those struggling with similar feelings can seek help and support.
‘I think the best thing you can do to help someone struggling with dissociative disorder is ask the person what you can do to help, but also try to understand them.
'If they’re having trouble with social situations, offer to go outside with them and try and help them compose themselves.'
‘I’m sort of a get up and go person and just get on with life, but I suppose for a lot of people it can make them quite panicky and feel quite claustrophobic,’ says Alexandra. ‘They might describe it as feeling trapped inside their own head’.
‘Over time I have learned how to cope with most situations. My condition hasn’t stopped me getting a degree or working as an actress.’
Alan Wilson, from the mental health charity MIND in Bradford, explains how little is still known about the condition.
‘We know two to three per cent of the population are diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. Other studies indicate it’s close to ten per cent. We think there are thousands of people who are undiagnosed with this condition and they’re not getting the help that they need.
‘By people talking about their experiences, it inspires others to come out and talk. It shows them they’re not on their own, which is one of the biggest barriers to people accessing support.’
Alexandra hopes by doing a Fixers project, more people will begin talking about the disorder: ‘The thing I’d say to someone who’s feeling similar is to not be afraid of approaching a GP about it. It is a normal thing to deal with and it can be fixed’.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.