Hey everyone! I'm feeling pretty good today so I feel like sharing some things that have helped me deal with dp and, more importantly, work towards recovery.
About me: I've had dp (mostly just derealization actually, but i'll just refer to it as dp here) for a little over two months at this point. It came out of absolutely fucking nowhere as I was about to make dinner; it literally felt like I had been drugged so I started freaking out. I took a quick walk outside which helped a bit, but the feeling persisted and has continued 24/7 to this day. I smoked pot pretty much daily for the month or so leading up to it, but I hesitate to say it was solely drug induced because I've only had like three minor freakouts when I smoked too much (over five years of smoking), and I had not smoked at all the day that the dp came on. Obviously, smoking every day definitely did not help my brain function/development, but I believe the main cause for me was various stressors in my life. I've never been the type of person to feel any sorts of anxiety or stress, but there was definitely a lot going on in my life and I think I just kept pushing it down and eventually my subconsciousness could not handle it anymore, and thus the dp began. On their website, the Mayo Clinic says that you're at an increased risk of developing DPD if "your personality has traits that make you want to avoid or deny difficult situations or you have trouble adapting to difficult situations". That describes me, and I'm sure many of you, to a fucking T.
My road to recovery: By no means am I recovered. I wouldn't even say I'm particularly close. BUT I am most certainly better than I was one month ago, and absofuckinglutely better than two months ago when I constantly felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack/going crazy. Reading through recovery stories helped. Besides the rare medication that works for a few people, a common message among these recovery stories is "LIVE YOUR LIFE! KEEP YOURSELF BUSY! DONT FOCUS ON DPDR!!!!." I mean like yeah obviously that would help but how the fuck are you supposed to do that when your vision is fucking warped and you're not even sure you're alive?? Unfortunately, that is what needs to be done. It's not a coincidence all the stories say the same thing. For most, there is no quick fix. A lot of us hope that it goes away as suddenly as it comes on, but that's not how it works (realization #1). It sucks and it's unfair that we're in the 2% of the population with this condition (which is actually a lot of people if you think about it), but just like any condition you need to put in work and make lifestyle changes if you really want to recover. If you do the same exact thing every day without moving forward, expect the same results (#2).
So live your life, keep yourself busy, and don't focus on DPDR. Much much much easier said than done, but the hardest part is to get the ball rolling. Change is hard. Before I had dp, I was constantly thinking about how unsatisfied I was with my life, how I had no motivation or goals or dreams or anything. Then I would smoke a fat J and be like "I'll change eventually" Putting in the work to improve my situation did not appeal to me in the slightest. Now, I consider dp punishment for me being such a useless shithead the past few months. One good thing about having dp is that it's been the kick in the ass I needed to ACTUALLY make useful changes. What has helped me the most is planning my entire day out down to the hour, making lists of things I need/want to do along with deadlines by when they should be done (it feels DAMN good to cross things off your list), and realizing that dp doesn't physically stop you from doing anything (#3.. and the most important). As many of you know, it's now much much harder to change your lifestyle than it would've been before dp, but it's certainly not impossible. Having tasks to focus on is good for both the "existential thoughts" version of dp and for those with "blank mind"
They say after a breakup you should work on improving yourself to regain your confidence. I went through a rough breakup last year and was depressed for a while, but then I started going to the gym, I taught myself how to play guitar, and I started cooking for myself every night. Not easy changes to make, but making a schedule helps you stick to a plan instead of just winging it. For me at least, having a solid routine is HUGE. Anyway, making those lifestyle changes helped me get my confidence back, but then I got complacent. I stopped improving. Working to get out of the shittiness that is dp has been my motivation to continue to make myself a better person. Doing things you wouldn't normally do, improvement or otherwise, makes you concentrate and makes your brain remember that life is still moving forward. Like I said, I'm not recovered, but I know this is what needs to be done. This past Saturday, I went to yoga, then rock climbed for an hour, then ran for ten minutes, then came back and made a dope ass playlist, then made krupnikas (a Lithuanian spiced honey liqueur) for my parents' xmas gift and cleaned the shit out of the kitchen all while jamming out to my favorite tunes. It was BY FAR the best I have felt these past two months. I literally felt 90% recovered, I was so close I could taste it. I was having normal thoughts, I could concentrate like normal, my vision was almost normal!! I was able to confidently tell my friends "I am getting better". I also had terrible insomnia that night (which, I think, is a good thing because I had insomnia before DP, but I've been able to sleep great since due to the blank mind). Unfortunately, I got complacent again and had an awful dp day this past Wednesday, but I am right back on my horse and ready to get back to work. Don't let the bad days discourage you (#4). But at the same time, don't let yourself have bad days. It takes a persistent, almost 24/7 effort.
This ended up being way longer than I hoped. Also it's probably kind of useless since all the recovery stories say the same thing, but I think that is definitely for good reason; it very likely works. I know I'm not recovered, but if this motivates even one person to start working on themselves then I've done my job. I'm sure most of you have good days and bad days. To get started, take advantage of your good days. If you wake up one day and your dp is slightly better, that's the day you start making changes. Don't let the good days pass you by. The moral of this story is make a plan and don't get complacent. I look forward to when I am recovered because I will be a MUCH better person than I used to be in so many ways. I'll be fucking unstoppable, and I can't wait. That's my motivation.
All my love,
ps. it should go without saying but eat healthy, take supplements, exercise, and get good sleep.
pps. this song is appropriate and also on my playlist. enjoy