Depersonalization Disorder - Symptoms and Triggers
"I was scared and confused... Like I was living in a dream. Disconnected from the world. Physically and emotionally drained. I had terrifying, existential thoughts about reality and the universe. I felt cut off from my body and from reality. The world felt so strange and unreal."
The National Alliance On Mental Illness estimates that "up to 75% of people experience at least one Depersonalization / Derealization episode in their lives", and the Guardian newspaper reports that incredibly, 1 in every 50 people suffers from the chronic, ongoing form of the condition: Depersonalization Disorder.
Depersonalization Disorder can be triggered as a result of violence, grief, or any traumatic event. For younger people it often happens as result of a bad drug experience, most commonly from smoking weed.
I suffered from Depersonalization Disorder for two years before I recovered completely. In the 10+ years since, I've made it my mission to raise awareness of the condition - and to provide a simple, effective recovery method with my book The Depersonalization Manual.
To make things simple, here’s a list of the most common symptoms associated with Depersonalization Disorder.
Feel like there’s a pane of glass between you and the world
You’re not in control of your thoughts or actions
You don’t recognise yourself in the mirror
You’re on autopilot all the time
You feel as if time is distorted or fragmented
Feeling like you’re living in a dream
Feeling like you’re slightly drunk all the time
Feeling like your vision is somehow off
Thinking 'I don't feel real'
Repeated / Ongoing Feelings of Deja Vu
Wondering 'Am I going crazy?'
Feeling like you’re watching yourself from outside your body
Existential thoughts, about the nature of reality and the universe
Time feels distorted or fragmented
Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
Fear that you’re going insane
Fear that reality is slipping away
Fear that you don’t really exist
Fear that you have died or are in purgatory
Fear that you have brain damage
Fear that you have developed schizophrenia or psychosis
Fear that you’re going to fade away or disappear
Fear of social settings like school and work
Fear of brightly lit places like malls and supermarkets
One of the clearest indicators of Depersonalization Disorder is the
feeling having been brought on by a recent trigger incident.
Have you recently:
1. Had a bad experience on Weed
2. Taken any psychotropic drug (MDMA / Ketamine / LSD)
3. Had a panic attack
4. Been involved in a car crash, house fire or similar traumatic incident
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
You’re safe. You’re not in any danger, physically or mentally. Depersonalization is not dangerous and will not develop into anything worse than itself.
Depersonalization is Extremely Common
You’re not alone. Far from it. Up to 75% of people will experience at least one Depersonalization / Derealization episode at some point in their lives and it's estimated that 1 in 50 people have Depersonalization Disorder. For 2 years I was one of those people.
It Happens for a Reason
Depersonalization is caused by anxiety. It’s your brain’s defence mechanism to get you through traumatic situations. It’s a perfectly natural reaction and is meant to dissipate naturally once you’re out of danger. It’s only when you focus on it that it persists, turning into a feedback loop with your anxiety that caused it.
You Can Alleviate the Symptoms
There are simple ways to address the symptoms and alleviate them so that you can go about your daily routine and get back to your normal life.
It’s Not Permanent
Your Depersonalization will last only as long as the underlying anxiety causing it lasts. Once you address this, the Depersonalization will stop completely as it did for me and has for thousands of others.