this is SO SO valuable.... thanks for re-posting..
I won't lie, this is a repost of something "Copeful" posted way back in 2007. However I found the information inside completely invaluable and think it should be posted and/or maybe pinned so that people can find the information with ease. Here's hoping it helps many people :] Thank you Copeful.The Holy Grail of Curing DP/DR:
I've analyzed and experienced this fucking life consuming blackhole disorder for a longtime since I got it and have found the 10 most important steps in recovery:1) Acceptance
2) Letting go
4) Tuning focus back on external world(reality) and interact with it
6) Facing your fears&burried surrows
7) Eating right
9) Changing your thinking pattern
10) Re-enter reality & Never looking back
Seems so easy and simple, in a sense it is and on the other hand it's not, it's hard work.
However it IS infact THE only cure that ANYONE with DPDR has used to recover. there will never be a magic pill, so take my word for it and cure yourself by the end of this year and live life happily ever after in REALITY.Acceptance
This one is probably the hardest, one thing is acknowleding and being aware your suffering from DP/DR.
I think anyone who read this book with DP/DR acknowledges the fact they are fuckedup and got DP/DR.
The thing we however don't do is ACCEPT IT.
Infact we refuse it and fight it with all our energy and time.
Accepting seems like defeat like, damn, I'm fucked. But that's not the case.
Accepting means stop fighting it with all ur power, it's the first step in recovery (seems clich�) but it's actually true.
Before you can ACCEPT (again not acknowledge, but ACCEPT the fact that ur DP/DR'ed) you won't recover.
It's also the first step of letting go.
Accepting is not a easy process but it's a quick one. Just say it out loud a few times and really MEAN it:
"I accept I got DPDR, and I know I'm not insane, this is a temporary illness and I accept that I got it"
It wants you to give it attention but you got to accept it's pressence and don't give a fuck.
It's like the bully who picks on other kids in school, if they fight him/pay him attention, he'll keep coming back. If they ignore him, it won't have the same effect and the bully will leave.
It's kind of the same with Pure O thoughts and DPDR, so accept it and you'll soon be ready to let go of itLetting go
This is the next step in the process of recovery, managing to actually let go.
Letting go of the questioning, philosophing, worrying, thinking and wondering "WHAT IF" "COULD IT BE?" "BUT?" etc.
Letting go is different from ignoring, ignoring is forcing yourself not to pay attention which actually means your paying it attention.
Letting go means really letting something go without picking it up 10 minutes later again. I'm guilty of this.
The 3 persons I've interacted most with from dpselfhelp is curedone, ihavemessedupdreams & Fightingdepression, they can testify I had a enourmous amount of trouble with this "letting go" thing.
I couldn't, and I think I've read all the information on every topic there is on the internet, seriously.
Google is no longer my friend, but my enemy.
Letting go is ofcourse a process, it's not something you manage to do while you read these lines just by saying "OK I LET GO OF THIS IRRATIONAL FEARS" and then your cured. It's a process.
You must adopt a I JUST DONT GIVE A FUCK attitude to these thoughts and lable them as "my mind sending me false information again" and let them go.
In the beginning this is hard but after awhile it becomes easier.
it's the same in treating OCD and it's actually altering the thinking pattern in your mind thus also changing the chemical balance in your brain. This might sound like mind over matter, but it's not mind is matter in you brain and this have been scientifically verifyed and is realy ancient knowledge of buddhists.
Letting go leads to the next topic, distraction, which is essential in letting go, if you just sit around doing nothing, letting go is next to impossible. It's like trying to quit crack addiction while selling it by the kilos.Distraction
It's the most fundamental way of curing Panic disorder, depression, OCD etc.
Distracting is hard, ecspecially when your so not connected with your surrounding environment.
Distraction simply means shifting your focus from DPDR to ANYTHING, I don't care if it's singing
Britney Spears HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME or jumping in the shower with ice cold water on.
Distraction is the key to letting go which is the key to recovery so distraction is a key to the door of both your soul(self) & reality for DP/DR victims
Everytime you find yourself ruminating over some stupid ass philosophical questions GET UP, run around your house 5 times and do 20 pushups.
Throw a bucket of icecold water over your head and clean your room.
Put on a song and sing to it, watch a exciting movie(not a boring one which will lead your mind to think and not follow the movie)
Something / Anything which involves taking the focus from inward internal conflict of mind to the outward external REALity.
This would be the great time to start learning new things, get new hobbies etc.
I can not stress enough how important consistant 24/7 distraction from DPDR is to recover.
It's either that or your doomed, it's simple as that, honestly put.
Tuning focus back on the external world/reality and interact with it
Now that your letting go of irrational thoughts, distract yourself from DPDR it's time to enter reality and interact with it again. No more isolation, I bet most of you spend 6+ hours aday on the computer with focus on the screen then another 2 hours on the TV screen and the rest in bed.
How do I guess so right? because I've done it for the past year too.
Isolation is the worst thing, it's proven it leads to solipsism syndrome and derealization states.
NASA is experiencing this and studying ways to defeat it in space travel where astronauts surroundings are very little unchanging and they live in COMPLETELY controlled environment for safety.
Their currently finding ways to combat this by having plants which grow without human intervention, animals and random number generators etc.
In your home your in a controlled unchanging environment, which means no surprises, no changes, no challenges & therefore no feeling of reality.
It's when your fantasy/hopes/expectations are proven wrong by reality that you learn to deal and handle reality.
So how do we enter the scary "unknown" without breaking down and killing ourself or going insane?
First we watch this movie(ya'll spiritualist will love this one, but for atheists fuck the "God" part and just watch the relaxing and beautiful nature and the encouraging messages)
Now realize this is our fear, the beautiful nature and world there is out there for us to explore and experience.
You live rougly if your lucky 75 years. That means most of us 30-50%+ of that time is already up.
Another fact is that we sleep like 1/3 of our life so this means basically we cannot waste it on this stupid retarded disorder and sit alone in a room killing ourselves emotionally, mentally and personally.
I suggest starting slow, going outside, if your not in a big city, taking walks in nature will be great grounding experiences, hearing the birds sing, watching rivers floath, the trees swinging in the wind, feeling the fresh air and seeing the biiig biiig world out there which you got absolutely NO control over and is completely real and natural independant of your mind. (this is a fact I trust in after studying the philosopher Ayn Rand)
I know buddhists might disagree, but seriously, the objective world is primary, your consciousness is secondary and a direct result of evolution and natural selection.
It's mother earth, and we are it's children.
Feel the happiness of belonging, theres tons of smells/tastes outside too which will bring back memories and sense of self.
Anyway, staying in the safezone = controlled environment = increased belief in your stupid delusional thoughts(doesn't make them real,nothing ever will, but it'll appear more real, thus make you feel more unreal).
So get out, you need the earthquake of facing the scary uncontrolable REAL world to shake you back to reality.
Try not only observing it passively, instead feel the leafs, throw some rocks in the river, walk and feel the ground beneath you, see the changes in the sky, the surroundings etc.
Also I know humans seem strange to you at the moment, faces appear dead/cartoonish if your severily DR'ed and it seems like people got no mind, there's no persona in them it seems, but look at yourself in the mirror u cannot see ur own mind either.
Their minds DO exist and you'll be able to understand it again once ur back in reality and fully conscious and awake.
Start out small, it's great if you got animals, ecspecially cats as they are so self centered and dont give a fuck about you, you can see they got their own mind and do as they please and their cute as hell too.
I've found it easier to connect with animals in DP/DR moments, their so full of life and different and unpredictable from us.
Also try to move around to new places, something unpredictable and new is the greatest way of killing of DP/DR.
It's scary so you don't dare to do it, but it's the only goal your seeking, ironic isn't it?
DO IT seriously.Socializing:
After you manage to get out of your house and trust reality again and start to see it's realness and randomness and you got no control over it, socializing is the next step and the most important of them all.
You will NEVER EVER realize that people exist by studying evolution, watching experiments and brainscans, you will know it intellectually but not EXPERIENCE AND KNOW IT in reality.
To do so you must socialize, with old friends and new people.
For some strange reason the more familiar the people are in reality more unfamiliar people look when your in the DPDR'ed state of mind.
I guess it got to do with the defense mechanism in your brain shutting off the self and "protecting you", but anyway, this is the most crucial and important step in the world for DPDR'ers, realize there really are others out there.
Your not alone, and this will bring back reality to you in so many ways, and is the greatest distractor of them all.
Socializing will also bring back common sense to you too, slowly but surely this will help you greatly.
Don't talk to them about your DPDR, if they ask whats up just tell them your a little depressed stressed and exhausted, don't go into details about it, when your with others try not to focus on it at all, try to focus on the present and REALITY not your deluded fearful fantasies.
Antisocial behavior and isolation while DPDR'ed is like playing russian roulette with all chambers of the gun loaded. It's straightup suicide.Facing your fears and burried surrows:
The best analogy for this is : your stuck in a endless tunnel you've brought yourself into, every fear that has attacked ur mind that you have tried to fought and ignore has put you deeper into this tunnel. And you see no light at the end, and when you think you do it's a train.
Well ok, lets face that train(fear) then, let it kill you, you must die a few times in this process.
After awhile the train drags your corpse out of the tunnel and you'll rise from the ashes like a pheonix and the fears will no longer affect you and you'll be able to conquer and finally realize and see how irrational and nonexistant the things you feared actually is.
If you fear dying it doesn't mean go to the bathroom and slit your wrist so you can "FACE DEATH".
It simply means say "I dont care if I die", but you got to MEAN it, not just say it.
Death is real and its invetiable, but it's not in the present so don't worry about it.
The other existential philosophical nonesense don't even exist, so facing those is different, here you must either PRETEND their true for awhile until your mind realize it was wrong and you can finally let go or skip that and go straight to the "let go part"...
Let the thoughts occupy the mind, don't pay them attention, acknowledge them, don't agree or disagree, just let them be, starve them to death, everytime you attack them or try to resolve 'em you give 'em a big cheeseburger with fries on your expens(this being your life) so fuck that scavanger and let it die out from starvation.
Survival of the fittest. =P
If you've as me gone through traumatic events such as loss of loved ones or other similarly traumatic experiences facing it is a great therapeutic way of recovering.
The last time I felt reality and emotions was encountering my deep burried sorrow of my dad's tragic death which occured right before DPDR and was a big contributer to triggering it I suspect.
Facing it was like unleashing the emotions out of the cage and it was overwhelming but brought me back into my body and reality in a split second, even if it just lasted a few seconds this was the first "hope" for me in months.
A spark of light in the endless maze of dark empty tunnels of DP/DR.
Crying without emotion gives no effect, you need to bring up the emotional cause and unleash it.
Remember your brain has shut this down to protect you from the overwhelming emotions but it doesn't realize the danger is over and you can let it go so you have to remind it and poke on it until it do.
It'll be a hard but crucial process in your road to recovery.Eating right
While studying anxiety disorders and ecspecially Pure O I found that what we eat contribute a whole lot to our situation.
Our brains is basically billions and billions of neurons which are connected through myelin sheets, same as our nervous system is and anxiety / ocd / slightly schizophrenic / tourette syndrome etc. people got damaged and torn up myelin sheets which is the prime cause of this.
Eating right so that these can heal can be a great great contributer to your healing and recovery.
I suggest this eating regime:
Primrose oil: 2capsules in the morning with breakfast, 2 in the afternoon with dinner, 2 at night with supper. (Must be taken with a protein so it's absorbed up in your system for effect)
Primrose oil is great at rebuilding the myelin sheets and nervous system
Fish oil: 1 before sleep
Fish oil is probably the most known natural mental health supplement it has helped heal brain damage, help brain fog, schizophrenia etc. etc.
Vitamine complex: 1 pill in the morning
Vitamine B complex: 1 pill in the morning (vitamine B has been reported on several OCD forums I've been at as a great supp to lessen the thoughts and mind noise in their heads)
Zinc supplement: zinc is great for mental health and health generally, 1 capsule in the morning and one at supper is all that's needed.
Flaxseed oil: 1 capsule a day
I suspect in very few cases will this eating regime alone eliminate DP/DR(although SOME reports of people changing their intake of food/supps has magically cured their brainfog and dpdr) it will atleast help a great deal.
Also eating healthy is good, fruits, vegtables white meat etc, yeah this almost sounds like some sort of training gainweight/lose weight diet but, logically eating the healthiest will make you healthier.
You are what you eat is a fact in physics not just a setence.
Your body reproduces cells every fucking second, give it the best and it'll reward you for it.
After all, ITS YOUR BODY.
Avoid these: sugar, cigarettes and coffee
Again I'm guilty as charged in all of these, I used to be smoking 20 cigarettes a day and consuming gallons of cocacola (lot of caffeine and sugar).
Everything that ends with INE is negative for you and will make your situation and condition ten times worse, all INE's are stimulants and increase anxiety, pulse and heart rate.
I'm no preacher, but sorry nicotine caffeine amphetamine cocaine heroine is not good for DP/DR.
So if you like me loves cigarettes, this will be the greatest time to quit and when your recovered from DP/DR you'll be so glad you did it and now you got a GOOD reason to.
Another thing is that quitting cigarettes is a goal, it's dicipline, taking control over one of your bad habbits, which in itself is great selfesteem boost it's also a good way to start breaking other habbits like DP/DR thinking, isolation etc.
Plus it will increase your health enormously just the first months, just the first few weeks it'll increase your smell/taste and breathing and lower your chances of heart attack etc.Sleeping & Exercising:
The reason I bring this up is because first:
sleeping pattern is very important in recovering, you must have a routine and sleeping pattern that is stricktly followed in recovery times.
After all sleeping is when your mind body and yourself actually get the chance to rest
I've been close to recovery many times but fuckedup just because of either lack of or over sleeping ONE day and I've completely relapsed.
8 hours is needed, no more, no less. It will also give your life structure and routine and give back sense of contact with reality in some sense, such as concept of time, dates, day/night structure and routines.
Exercising will help you get better sleep and rest, cause if your doing nothing but sitting in a chair all day long reading forums and symptoms and studying for the magic pill or answers to your endless questions your body is basically in a half sleep mode all day long.
Another important thing with exercise is that it'll help you reconnect with your body, you'll use it and thus identify with it more again and fee it as you did PRE-DPDR'ed.
Also getting in better shape physically is proven to help you mentally.
It's also a great distractor and way of reconnecting life, ecspecially if your gaining/losing weight, it'll be a little goal besides recovering and you'll see changes and be happy etc.
There's tons of good reasons why exercise is great but it's almost essential in DPDR to quicker and better recovery I think.Changing your thinking pattern:
This is the biggest and maybe most important part of your recovery (think I've said that about 5 times now, but it's true).
This one goes for PureO/OCD/Panic/Depression too.
The cause of your irrational thoughts and fears lies within your brain chemistry & mind.
So by changing your thinking you'll alter your brain chemistry, this is a well known factor in buddhism called mindfulness.
This will take about a month before you really start noticing that the fears/thoughts aren't as intrusive and VIVID anymore but it'll happen if your consistant.
First realize these thoughts are directly a result of your temporary condition, not braindamage/any truth in the thoughts.
Then you gotta learn to let the thoughts go and refocus on something else, everytime one of these thoughts come, realize its your mind on crack giving you false information and no matter how anxious you become let the thought be, don't fight to ignore it, just let it be, "Be the witness of your thoughts" but don't interact.
Humans got approximatly 64 000 thoughts a day, 90% of them is pure bullshit and most are not even consciously aware of most of them.
If these thoughts came to you in your sleep you wouldnt give a damn and just label them as subconscious nonesense dreaming, do the same here, cause it is EXACTLY what it is.
Immediately change your focus outwards and try thinking of something else, something RELEVANT to your life & the present moment and immediately DO something.
This is VERY important in changing your behavior, kind of what CBT is about I guess.Re-entering reality and never looking back
Getting to the point where you start re-entering reality means getting outside the house daily again, socializing, letting go.
It involves more than just stepping outside your house, it means getting into reality again.
You need to get your hobbies interests back again, cause this is what forms your life.
Anyone can go around as a numb observer of the world, but participating in it is the only way to recover.
This is all subjective experience of the objective reality. The objective reality itself won't give you any meaning. It'll give you inspiration, but it's you subjectively who choose what destiny and path of your life will be.
Now taking something as simple as playing cards means this for you: "moving your hands and picking up some cards with symbols on it and try to get certain cards to win".
Thats your DPDR'ed non meaningful dereality, when your emotions come back it's a GAME again, a game that the purpose is to WIN, and the winning gives you a feeling of luck, happiness and achievement.
Even if it's just something as small as a fucking cardgame.
You've got to let go of the notion that reality will just SHOW IT'S GRAND MEANING AND EXISTANCE to you again, cause it's you who create your OWN experience of reality.
The best way to realize this is maybe by watching a child, he can pick up a branch of a tree and play with it all day long, it's giving him a meaning in his life because he LETS it and is dedicated with it.
Thinking and analyzing why people are as real as you won't make you suddenly EUREKA THEY ARE REAL. No, engaging in social life and activies will do this.
It'll become just as obvious to you that these people are conscious as it is that you are.
Analyzing people while thinking "are they real, do they got minds" etc while looking at someone will do you no good. You need to stop analyzing and rather go out and experience, then it will be revealed and obvious again.
Once your starting to recover and get out of the thick DPDR fog, you must NOT look back.
Just a little thinking about it in the first period after recovery is like smoking weed again(if this is what induced it for you). It'll bring it back in seconds.
i've had numerous experiences where I've become a little better for a little while then have a little relapse and it has sent me straight back into it fully if not even worse for months.
When your getting out, theres no turning back, for some REALITY just suddenly is there again, and this is a shock.
It's like you've been trapped in this dark tunnel for so long and when your out the bright sun light is a shock on your eyes. in the same sense is reality to you when your realizing it again.
You go from being deluded almost asleep passive observer of what you hope to be reality to suddenly BAM being in it again fulltime, everyone around you is real, NOTHING is under your control, the world is there, existance is there again. Too some this can be overwhelming and frightening at first.
The good news is that it'll take you maybe 1-2-3days to fully be ok with it again and feel normal. After all THAT IS reality you've lived in your whole life. It'll come back to you quick and you'll be so happy and excited, but don't let the excitment ruin the recovery for you.
You need to go slow, but not too slow.
If you have a relapse and feel DR/DP'ed, quickly distract yourself and not let the fear get hold of you, you've been down that road, it leads to more anxiety, more dp dr, more waste of your life.
When I say quickly, I mean like RIGHT AWAY, don't lock urself up for a day or two just to "feel cool" again, do it IMMEDIATELY before it takes over your mind.
It'll be hard, but it's the only way you'll keep recovering...
If you suffer added PANIC DISORDER, I suggest getting some anti-anxiety(not too strong) pills in emergencies, just incase when your out of your home and safezone get a panic attack you can take a pill or two just to calm down and keep distracting yourself.DP/DR do's and don'tsDO's:
Participate in life (self explainatory)
Get new hobbies and interests (change is very advantagous to cure this disorder and it'll refocus your mind)
Make new friends (again change factor, plus new friends mean non predictable/controlable events)
Have sex (sex is the most fundamental emotional and instinctive of all human behavior so enganging in it should bring fourt the human in you)
Fall inlove (this is hard while DPDR'ed, but if you manage you'll be cured faster than anyone)
Make music (if your an artist, self expression through music is the best way to spark emotions and unleash your own)
Listen to music (if your NOT an artists listening to others will do the same, music is played on instruments by the creator but plays on the emotions of the listener)
Make art (drawing/painting is another way of self expression so if your good at it, do it, if your not good at it but want to be, pick it up as a new hobbie and learn it)
Express yourself (every person feels the need to EXPRESS themselves, find someone who listens and take a long chat with them, very therapeutic and also connecting, to others and therefore yourself again.
Distract, (already explained)
Make socializing your second nature (explained before)
Stay occupied. (explained)
Party (but without drugs, if you manage alcohol without increasing DP/DR great, it's a good social event and also drinking increases social behavior and let your guard down a bit)
The list is endless....DON'TS:
Isolate yourself (staying in the tunnel)
Dwell on DPDR (dwelling is burrying yourself alive)
Think deep thoughts (just increasing your DPDR and anxieties)
Study shit that scares you (it won't lead to anything good, trust me)
Spend more than 1hour on the computer a day(not even on dpselfhelp) (computer is a way of "escaping reality which is the opposite of what we're trying to do)
Letting this disorder take over your life (self explainatory)
Do drugs(yeah it sucks but ECSPECIALLY if your DPDR was drug induced stay the fuck away no matter if you recover, you'll kill yourself and never forgive urself if u recover, do drugs and relapse.)
Some exercises that'll help you on your quest to sense of self and regaining reality:
Body scan meditation:
This exercise was brought to my attention by a member of dpselfhelp: LostSoul.
It's basically a exercise to reconnect your body and also "the present" according to LostSoul who's managed to temporarily "recover" using this technique a few times.
The trick is however when you manage to enter your body again NOT to get too excited as it will "shoot you up in your mind" again.
This is what you do:
Lie on your back with your legs uncrossed, your arms at your sides, palms up, and your eyes open or closed, as you wish. Focus on your Breathing, how the air moves in and out of your body. After several deep breaths, as you begin to feel comfortable and relaxed, direct your attention to the toes of your left foot. Tune into any sensations in that part of your body while remaining aware of your Breathing. It often helps to imagine each breath flowing to the spot where you're directing your attention. Focus on your left toes for one to two minutes.
Then move your focus to the sole of your left foot and hold it there for a minute or two while continuing to pay attention to your breathing. Follow the same procedure as you move to your left ankle, calf, knees, thigh, hip and so on all around the body. Pay particular attention to the head: the jaw, chin, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, nostrils, throat, cheeks, eyelids, eyes, eyebrows, forehead, temples and scalp.
Do this for 15-30minutes twice a day.
Increasing/training your senses:
Again thanks to LostSoul
This is a Buddhist technique, used by buddhist munks to train their senses and awareness of their environment.
In the sense of DPDR what this will help is take your inward focus and turn it OUTWARD to the reality again.
You do this by taking one sense a week
Let's start with the ears:
My suggestion is that you spend 30minutes a day this first week going outside somewhere your not disturbed and close your eyes and try to focus your hearing on different things outside.
The greatest spot will either be out in nature or some balcony in the city, try to distinguish and focus on different sounds.
Also listen to music, but not with headphones on as this will feel "isolated", so tune up the speakers and put on some of your favourite music you used to love and try to pay attention to the melody, try to follow it with your ears.
This has a double effect, first increasig your hearing and hopefully spark some memories you have of that specific song/music.
Next week take the eyes which might be the worst impairment of DPDR, your visual perception:
This one you can do all week actually, but atleast dedicate 30 minutes a day to REALLY do it.
Try watching moving objects, such as cars, flying birds etc, follow them with your eyes intensively.
Another is the in and out focus, place a finger infront of your eye and focus on it, then focus on the "background", by doing this you stimulate the eye muscles.
Also try looking around you all the time, don't just look dead out in the air as your sleep walking or something.
You must really try to focus your vision on the world again.
Then it's smelling:
Same here, you can do this all day, all week, but atleast spend 30 minutes a day.
Here only your imagination can stop you, try smelling everything, flowers, perfumes, food, aroma's, soap, chemicals, anything that'll stimulate your sense of smell.
A fellow contributer and DP sufferer at DPselfhelp told me she temporarily felt normal again by the smell of burning leafs and aroma therapy.
So maybe it'll also spark some memories and reality recognition in your head.
Another infinite possibilites, I suggest buying tons of fruits and different food this week.
Touch everything, try to feel different objects, nature, animals, don't ponder it's diversity, just feel without question.
If you got a girl/boyfriend, feel/touch them a lot to.
Again, you'll have to use your fantasy, but go further than touching yourself ok?;P
"I am" mantra exercise:
This was handed to me by my psychiatrist actually it's a very simple exercise.
You basically just sit still and take deep breathes and while inhaling say "here I am" or "i am me" or "here I *your name* am".
Then exhale and feel the air leaving YOU.
The point of this is to locate yourself and body again.
Looking in the mirror:
This "technique" is really just something I've come up with the last few weeks, it's nothing special but i think it might be effective.
Basically it just means looking at your reflection through out the day(not bdd obsessively) but just so you see yourself objectively(cause in DPDR you've lost sense of objective reality and objective thinking)
So seeing yourself objectively over and over again might spark memories etc.
Another thing you can do is care for how you look, try playing "dress up" game or wtf you want.
Get some variation in your looks and take care of it, connect to your ego again.
Also try standing beside a friend/relative or something in a reflection and see that ur just the same, ur not alone, this is hard to "figure out and see" from a first person perspective.
Basically find some photoalbums from your childhood, social events etc.
Look through them and try to remember how it was, try to connect with the event as it was.
Try to spark the memory of it
This is a way you can try to wakeup your SOUL and YOUR relationships with people and the world as it once was.
Staying with friends and talking about the past is probably the best way to connect with memories of your real life, one thing is to sit alone and think about it, but when your with others they'll bring up memories you've forgot and can share them and it hopefully will spark some parts of your memory which is currently out of reach, but it is permanently intergrated into your mind so don't be afraid, it's not lost.