Why you must avoid Depersonalization Forums
One of the most common questions I’ve seen in all of my years of correspondence with people suffering from depersonalization is this:
“I’ve been looking on depersonalization forums and there are people who have had the condition for 10 / 20 / 30 years…. If that can happen to them…. what’s stopping it happening to me??”
It’s a perfectly valid question! I remember that when I was first suffering from depersonalization, I spent days and days googling my symptoms, trying to find an explanation as to why I was feeling so strange and so scared all the time.
When I did come across a depersonalization forum, at first I thought that my prayers were answered. Finally, here was an explanation! However, I remember my heart sinking when I saw posts from people who had had depersonalization for years.
These folks were saying that they had tried everything -- medications, therapy etc and nothing had worked. This information, and the prospect of feeling as bad as I did for potentially decades to come, sent me into an intense panic attack and days of depression.
It took me a long time to realize that there was actually nothing to be worried about.
You see, in any anxiety-spectrum condition (which depersonalization is), one of the very worst things that you can do is actively and continually research it.
Let me explain:
Depersonalization is, at its core, a symptom of anxiety. It’s your brain’s self-defence alarm system that kicks in during traumatic circumstances to allow you to navigate an exit without being overcome by the situation at hand. Sometimes, the alarm can continue on after the situation itself has passed, or, if it has been triggered by a panic attack or drugs, it can persist and seem like a separate mental condition.
The best and only way to deal with it effectively is to turn off that alarm system in your brain, and that involves a careful program of convincing your brain, correctly, that there is no danger at hand. There is nothing to be afraid of, and so your brain can turn off the alarm, the self-defence, the anxiety and therefore the depersonalization.
Can you see why logging on to depersonalization forums every day would make that impossible?
Question: If you are suffering from an anxiety-based disorder (which depersonalization always is) that feeds on self-perpetuating fear in order to exist at all, what is the worst thing you can do?
Answer: Spend time every day on forums with people who also have the condition, people who say that they have tried everything but can’t recover, who write posts about their anxious thoughts that would be frightening for a non-anxious person to read, nevermind someone actually suffering from depersonalization.
There are people who log on to these forums every single day to report on how they are depersonalized they are feeling, on a scale of 1 to 10. When someone like that says, “I’ve tried everything, but I can’t get better”, well, it’s hardly surprising.
They might have the very best intentions in the world, but they’re not even allowing themselves the chance to get better.
And what about the people who have recovered? How come you rarely see them on forums? Because they have figured out that spending time on those forums was extremely counter-productive to their recovery. Doing so is a constant reminder that you are supposed to be sick, at a time when you absolutely need to tell yourself, correctly, that the anxiety and depersonalization is nothing more than a passing condition that can be dealt with very simply and effectively.
So if you’ve seen people on forums saying ‘I’ve had depersonalization for ten years’ (or longer), it’s nothing for you to be scared about. In fact, it makes sense that if they are frequenting those forums that they can’t get better. They could be doing everything else right, but posting and reading in depersonalization forums will make their recovery pretty much impossible.