Yo Guys, I wanted to lay down some things I've learned since recovery. Some points that might help you in gaining some perspective, clarity, or at least something you can relate with. I struggled with DP for probably about a year and a half in total, but found my way out with family, friends, and a drive to better myself. The answer lies within you and often times it's not something you search for, but appears out of the actions that you take. So much of DP is spent searching for "that answer" that will somehow arrive to us after hours of intense reflection only to find ourselves no better than we were before we spent the hours in existential debate. I'm no stranger to obsessions and rumination, but much of this is just anxiety based fear. OCD simply stated is "fear of thoughts". We fear the very action that makes us human because of what we MIGHT discover. Discover it. I've learned that any self-discovery, be it good or bad, is essential in growing as a person. The bad allows us for an opportunity for change while the good can be looked at as a checkpoint of sorts, a moment for us to savor and then continue on learning from. Take these brief moments of honesty and learn from them. Self discovery isn't always about finding out what is good within ourselves. If anything, it can be more about turning the negative into a positive. At the end of the day, only you have control of your own journey. Everything else just influences it and how you choose to interpret it is up to you. I'll leave you with some points I found to be helpful to me.
- You're never as fucked up as you think. Racing thoughts? Take a moment to chill. Read a book, grab something to eat, work out, play a video game or an instrument. Feeling anxious? Know that it will pass. It always does. Sure, it's uncomfortable. Sure it sucks and it's scary, but the more you allow it to occupy your mind the more it will occupy you. Most of what you experience is just a symptom of the root cause of your DP, whatever that may be specific to your situation. I know mine came from a lack of a concrete identity and social insecurities that were repressed my whole life. Whatever it is, you're probably not as bad off as you think. No, I'm not downplaying your situation, but much of what is crafted in the DP mind is nothing more than an over-active imagination creating the worst possible situation imaginable. How often does that situation happen though? How often do people REALLY know we are DP'd? Sure, they might think we can be a bit odd, but they have no understanding of your condition unless you openly tell them about it. We fear what we don't know or perceive to be true. Perception is reality. If you think you're never going to get better then you won't. Plain and simple. Stop inviting everyone to your pity party that you don't even want to be a part of it. Why would anyone else?
-Action, not thought, will guide you home. The hours spent in your room in existential angst, crying, feeling sorry for yourself, or the multitude of other things we do when in a Depersonalized state will only further keep you in that state. It is only when we break from routine and challenge ourselves that we embark on a path of discovery. Always wanted to learn how to skateboard? Do it. Thought about picking chess back up again? Do it. Put your instrument down because you haven't been motivated to play in a while? Play it. There is no greater satisfaction than rediscovering what we once loved and falling in love with it all over again. At first it will be difficult, scary, anxiety producing. Use that as your motivation to continue. It's been proven that the more we do something, the better we become at it. The better we become at, the more we enjoy it. The more we enjoy it, the bigger the part it becomes in us. For me, that was rediscovering guitar. As someone who gets depressed, I can find myself putting the instrument down for months at a time. It is only when I pick it back up, sing, and write/learn new songs that I wonder why I ever stopped in the first place. There should never be a reason to stop doing something that you love. Don't create one. Time spent in unnecessary thought can be used for so many other purposes. It is through new action and experience that we learn or else we are forced to replay old memories in our head until we completely change the original memory to suit our liking. Walk down to the pond, skip rocks, swing on the swingset, enjoying the sight of the young and old living together in harmony and know that YOU are part of that. Action without conviction is not action at all. When out with friends, be out with friends. When swinging on a swing, swing like the child you once were. When playing an instrument, create new chords just for the sake of curiosity. You can truly can do nothing wrong, but learn from the experience. DP is not about creating a new you as we so often believe it to be. "If only I do this, I will become that". There is no magical pill or instant solution, but what you put into your recovery effort will help to shape the person you want to be. You don't have to create a new you. You are fine just the way you are.
-Don't compare yourself to other people, especially those on the forum. Now this one may seem to be a bit strange coming from the fact that this whole forum is based upon community and the joint process of recovery, but knowing that someone else has the same symptoms as you does not make your own disappear. It can be initially comforting knowing that you are not alone in experiencing DP, but what are you going to do to change it? This other person could live on a completely different continent and share nothing in common with you but the fact that they have similarities in the Depersonalization experience. Don't take satisfaction in knowing that you are better, worse, or even with someone on the forum. This will not do anything to aid your recovery. It's a mere checkpoint based on subjective experience. You truly don't know who is better and who is worse than you based on a mere matter of a few sentences on a message board. Their experience is different than yours and therefore irrelevant to your recovery. Recovery is a choice you must make yourself. You can take all the advice you want, read all the posts, and still completely ignore them. You can even read this post in it's entirety, feel a sense of motivation, and lose it completely. Anything worth having takes time. In a world filled with fast food, Netflix, and instant gratification we so often want something and we want it now. Recovery is not a "now" based activity. It is a process with ups and downs. Learn to roll with the punches.
-Face your fears. Afraid of talking to cute girls? Talk to them and fail miserably. Understand that your temporary rejection does not define you. Chances are they'll forget you 5 minutes after you leave and from that experience you have learned. There is no such thing as failure, but learning lessons. The things we fear the most are often the things we should do. I was crippled with Social Anxiety for over two years, afraid to open my mouth for fearing of saying something stupid and being judged for it. Most people aren't listening anyway, but rather waiting for their turn to speak. It is only when you place yourself in a state of vulnerability that you can grow from the experience. My mom always used to say "I'm not going to let you sit up in your room with the covers over your face. Go out and do something". Truer words have never been spoken. Sitting in and hoping you fears will just disappear without action is like expecting to lose weight without working out and eating right: It's not going to happen. It is only when you realize fear is a product of the mind that you are free to do whatever you want. If you're gonna make a mistake, make it big.
-Meet new people. We don't learn things when we speak. There is nothing to be learned from speaking of what we already know. We learn when we listen. In the words of Jimi Hendrix, "Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens." Open yourself up, set yourself up for rejection, and know that not everyone wants to nor will be your friend, but those that like you for the weirdo you are, are the ones to keep around. For me, this was discovering an acquaintance of mine from High School again. We were not particularly close in High School beyond occasional small talk and the exchange of pleasantries in the hallway. I can say with absolute certainty, that he has influenced me more than anyone I have ever met. He has challenged me to be a better musician, a more caring person, and a better friend. We are now a part of a 3 man band with original music written by myself and look forward to playing more gigs as the warm weather approaches. Had I rejected him for selfish fear, I would have never made the best friend I have today. Everyone needs friends. No one is a failure who has friends to call his own. Meet new people. You'll be surprised with what you discover. Groups are the building block of society. It may sound cliche, but no man is an island. We are social creatures and thrive off social interaction. Even though I'm much more outgoing than I once was, I'm no natural extrovert. I'm an introvert with a good sense of humor which can sometimes give the illusion of extroversion, but I find that most people with DP are of the introvert personality type. Don't beat yourself up if you're not the center of attention. Let the other person make a fool of themselves. There is a place in this world for the quiet, sensitive type.
-You are capable of change, but only if you want it. This is the last point I'll leave you with, but anyone is capable of curing themselves. You just have to "want it". What does that mean exactly? It sounds like a catch phrase for a Nike commercial, but there is truth in the statement. It's easy to give up. It's easy to turn to drugs and alcohol, but there is something to be admired in the person who faces life and the difficulties it presents with a smile on their face and determination in their heart. At the expense of sounding preachy, you are capable of much more than you are handling right now. Take that extra class. Run that extra mile. Talk to the stranger at the bus stop. You can live a good life, not a life of constant happiness, but a a good life if you choose to make the decision to do so. You will fall down in the process. Have the courage to stand up, brush off your knees, and continue on your run. The finish line is worth the blood, sweat, and tears.