Depersonalization are “experiences of unreality, detachment, or being an outside observer with respect to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, body, or actions (e.g., perceptual alterations, distorted sense of time, unreal or absent self, emotional and/or physical numbing)” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). While derealization are “experiences of unreality or detachment with respect to surroundings (e.g., individuals or objects are experienced as unreal, dreamlike, foggy, lifeless, or visually distorted)” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). To me these disorders are scary, in the sense that you feel freaked out, confused and “crazy”. I personally start to dissociate in times of immense stress. It’s a constant struggle between losing touch with reality and fighting to get back. Here is my story of losing touch with reality:
You wake up feeling different, and think “Is this world real?”, “Is this existence entertainment for someone else watching?” Nothing makes sense anymore. You want to lay down on the floor and do nothing forever, but you look around to remind yourself that you’re okay. You tell yourself “Snap out of it” and go out to face the world. You’re on autopilot doing things automatically.
Suddenly, feelings of despair and desperation start to set in. You feel like panicking and screaming. You start feeling pain in your hands, as if it wants to rip off your body. Your hands no longer feel like a part of you. As each second passes the world seems more distant. At the same time people around you are talking to you. You nod with a smile as if you’re listening, but in reality, you aren’t processing anything they are saying. On the outside you look calm, no one notices your desperation. But as each second passes you feel dread. Your thoughts become louder and louder until it’s the only thing you can listen to.
You think: “Is the world is a hologram?”, “Are we in a program?”, “Are aliens watching us?”, “Are we aliens?”, “If my body is just a vessel, then why am I here?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, “Am I dreaming this?”, “Am I high and this is just a bad trip?”, “Am I real?”, “What’s is my ‘self’?”, “Am I in a multiverse?”, “What dimension is this?”
As this is happening, you see yourself on the outside as if you are watching your life in a movie. You try to stay grounded by touching the wall, but that just worsens everything. The wall feels so different, like fake. You look at your hands and it hurts even more as if it’s trying to fly away. Your brain is screaming at you saying, “Throw yourself on the floor and do nothing. It’s all in your imagination, stop dreaming!”. But deep down you know this to be untrue.
And even though you are aware this is a breakdown, you doubt it. You start losing touch with reality and that scares the crap out of you. You panic, your chest hurts like it wants to explode. You freak out and think, “Do I have to go to the hospital?”, “Wait if I do what am I going to say?”, “I can’t just tell them, my chest hurts because my body isn’t real!” At the end of the day you exercise as a means of staying grounded. You over do it and feel exhausted. You have no energy to do anything. Your mind is still whispering untrue things, but you can’t deal with it anymore. So, you watch Netflix to distract yourself. You head to bed to rest and as you get sleepy your mind stays quiet until you wake up to face another day.
Have you experienced this as well? If you’d like for me to write more personal stories about this let me know. Also, feel free to read these stories as well: Anxiety – A True Story and Depression – A True Story.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.