I lived believing that I was sickly and prone to illness, taking extra vitamins, eating extremely healthy and always exercising, all in the quest to be healthy. I was a perfectionist about this. I would see people around me not taking these measures but figured it was just how I was made, my lot in life.
I was a baby prone to rashes and then a child prone to sore throats and ear infections. As I matured, I had bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and ear fullness. I was misdiagnosed with Meniere’s disease then labyrinthitis and finally TMJ, (temporomandibular joint). This occurred over the course of 50 years. Most of those years spent treating what I thought were ear issues.
Over the years I was very diligent at keeping health journals to log when I would get full ears or dizzy. I would log my diet, exercise, and if anything unusual that was going on in my life. Eventually the journal revealed a pattern. The dizziness usually followed a stressful event in my life and would last 3 months. It had often started in October, so I thought maybe it was connected to fall allergies, but I had been tested and that was not the case. However, September was a stressful month, so perhaps the stress of the start of school was the cause of the delayed reaction of the dizzies and full ears. I still really did not have a reason for the dizzies. However, it was helpful to know that it lasted 3 months no matter what I did for it.
I was always anxious about things. Again, I just figured it was the way I was built. At different times in my life, I went into therapy for self esteem and depression issues. I tried anti-depressants, EMDR, reiki, and other modalities. It was not until my 50’s when I landed in therapy once again to work on self-esteem. My goal was to function in a workplace without losing my boundaries and without the anxiety. This time therapy uncovered the cause of the dizziness. I worked on this for an intense 6 months.
Using Cognitive Therapy my therapist guided me through recognizing and acknowledging my feelings. We went into my lifeline and investigated any memories I had, detailed or not. Being an artist, I used art to help visualize the memories. This got me out of my head enough to release the built-up emotions that were stored in my body manifesting as illness. I also started to feel like I was floating during this time of remembering. This was C-PTSD (Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder) from CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect). The trauma is triggered by the memories. The floating, or dissociation, happens when the senses are on overload because there is too much information coming in.
The main cause of this dissociation was the disconnection between my feelings and emotions. Dissociation is when we dismiss our feelings and emotions. They will eventually build up in your body and manifest as illness. When in therapy and remembering childhood events, the emotions started flooding in causing the floating or the overload of the emotion.
In therapy and through my own research I learned that to heal from the memories you must acknowledge, feel, and release them. I did not even know they were there. The neglect occurs when a child is not allowed their feelings. They are not allowed to express themselves. Feelings are not permitted. The child grows up having learned to not feel. The challenge is to acknowledge feelings that you aren’t even aware are there. This is when a therapist, journaling, art, and other things can help uncover the memories and the emotions.
Since I had a childhood of chronic emotional neglect, which was subtle and difficult to acknowledge, I had to walk through each memory’s emotion. I did many quick spontaneous art pieces that helped me reach the feelings. The next step was to learn how to love myself as a mother would. To love myself unconditionally with full acceptance. I had to learn how to put myself first with healthy boundaries and to release or reinvent codependent relationships. I had to learn how to accept what I could not change and work on the things I could without thinking I had to perform perfectly to be considered good enough. Negative thoughts had to be acknowledged and new behaviors adopted.
During an episode of heightened floating, such as in large spaces like an airport or gym, I used white noise. I put my earphones in with a large fan noise to block out sensory overload. Large spaces were the most difficult for me to function in unless I took precautions. Tapping (EFT) helped to cope as well. Eventually the dizzy floating feeling faded as I finished the work of releasing. The floating faded very gradually that one day I realized I did not have to use my coping strategies to function. I was going to be alright.
Now my daily practice is to check in frequently throughout the day to see where my emotions are. I do a body scan to see where the energy is. I visualize what it looks like, what color it is. I let it have a voice so that it can be released. You cannot release it unless you let it be felt and heard. That does not mean to act on it, it just means to let it be known.
My advice to anyone experiencing the floating feeling is to take the time to put yourself first. You may be forced to prioritize your own health since the floating may be incapacitating you and you can not function. Put yourself first. Go to a doctor to make sure you are not having neurological issues. Acknowledge any emotions that arise. Take the time to get to know them by acknowledging, feeling and dialoguing with them. Once you have released them with gratitude and love you will find that eventually your floating will fade.
There are many techniques for doing this. Mindfulness is a major one. Even though this sounds too simple, you will find a practice that works for you. Then practice this every day, every moment you can. You can use EFT (tapping), yoga, exercise, grounding, somatic yoga, and the arts to help you release the emotions that arise. Stay out of your head, meaning do not analyze or label your emotions just let them come, say hello, feel and let them go. Observe them like a cloud crossing your sky.
Image credit: Book cover for Floating, Healing by Feeling : My Journey through Emotional Neglect and C-PTSD by Maureen Wolford
Maureen Wolford is the author of “Floating, Healing by Feeling : My Journey through Emotional Neglect and C-PTSD“. She breaks down in detail the process she used to heal. Her purpose in writing this book is to help as many people as possible who are struggling with the floating sensation and have no idea what it is and what to do. She hopes her story helps you find your road to recovery, health, and happiness. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.