Sorry for the very long title. I've been trying to write about this for a very long time and it's hard.
I've been free from the soul wrenching demon for more than two years. I occasionally have a panic attack or a few brain loops. My hands occasionally move out of sync with my brain. Every once in a while everything looks 1-dimensional or I'll forget the meaning of life for 10 minutes... but mostly my state of mind is clear. I spend most of the time feeling like a human. I can focus on problems that are of this world, instead of meta-analysizing everything and freaking the fuck out. My relationships are good. I can watch movies and focus on the plot. I never thought I would get to this point.
I've suffered two bouts of depersonalization, both onset by smoking weed. The first time lasted over a year. I was catatonic and couldn't get out of bed. Nothing made sense and I spent every. single. moment. for months in a state of panic and confusion. Zero relief. I lost interest in everything. I thought I was going absolutely insane. I spent 100s of hours looking up symptoms online... you know the story. I'm not here to talk about the worst times. The first time, it sort of went away by itself. I got lazy. I started smoking pot again. I didn't process any of the trauma that brought DP on in the first place. It came back, a roaring monster. DP once again took hold of my life. Only this time, armed with the faint possibility that this might not be forever, I was forced to face DP and heal it intentionally, or else I knew it would continue to haunt me. Here is what I know to be true:
1- FROM THIS MOMENT ON, TREAT YOURSELF LIKE A BABY.
This is the most important step to healing. You're going to start being gentle. You're going to realize that you are in the most fragile place of your life. You are going to extend yourself empathy, and kindness, and gentleness even if you don't know what that means right now. You're going to realize that you just need a bit of extra care right now. Would you let an infant smoke weed? If not, then you probably shouldn't do it. Would you tell an infant that the world was ending and they were psychotic? If not then you probably shouldn't tell yourself that. On this note...
2- REALIZE IT'S ALL ABOUT HOMEOSTASIS
The goal is to create a stable, calm environment, both externally and internally. An environment that is safe for the infant that you now are.
Internally: NO SUGAR, NO CAFFEINE, NO ALCOHOL, NO SUBSTANCE OR FOOD OR STIMULANT THAT SPIKES INSULIN OR FUCKS WITH YOUR HOMEOSTASIS. Not even caffeinated tea. Eat plain, bland foods three meals a day. Lots of soups and noodles and TONS of vegetables. You are providing your body a calm environment to reset. SLEEP. You need to treat sleep as the holy savior that it is. You need to prioritize it above all else. 8 hours a night minimum and you need to be going to bed at a normal time and waking up with the rest of the world. And this should go without saying but stay the fuck away from any kind of recreational drugs.
Externally: Again, homeostasis. Make your room a haven. This is hard but if you don't allow electronics in your room, your healing will speed up by 10 fold and LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF TIME YOU SPEND ON ANY SCREENS. On my computer was the only place I got a second of relief but it also slowed down my healing time. And blue light makes DPDR way worse. Learn what helps you sleep. For me, a bunch of heavy blankets and fans turned on high and roaring in my ears was life saving. Create a calm room environment and then get outside. Workout. Even though exercise made my DPDR worse while I was doing it, it helped a lot in the long run. Go be around people for a bit even though you'll be wondering whether they are robots the entire time. Do it anyway. Clean up. Keep things clean. Listen to calming music and rain sounds.
3- RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN INTENTIONALLY
This is the shit that really started to change my life. For a designated time every day I would force myself to see things 3-dimensionally. I would stare at a tree and force myself to see it popping up and out away from everything else. I could imagine it coming out away from the ground. I would force myself to draw lines around where I started and where the tree began. I would stare at my hands and force myself to outline the boundary of them. I would move them and require my brain to understand that it was my hands that were moving. Go watch a sunset and force yourself to be absorbed in the different colors. Lay in bed and push yourself out of your brain and into your body. Literally force yourself back into your body. I can't explain how to do it exactly but just lay in bed and move your arms and really feel them. Take time to connect to your body again even if you can't feel anything at first. At first I felt so fake during these 30 minute practices but sometimes a flash of recognition would occur. And later I wouldn't have to force it so very much. Call it meditation if you want to but it's a little different... you need to intentionally spend time reorienting yourself in the external world and in your body. This one is very hard to explain but it's the most important so message me if you want me to explain it in more detail.
4- TELL PEOPLE WHAT'S GOING ON
Every time I would tell someone about my struggles, I felt a wave of relief. Write about it and show someone. Tell at least one person in explicit detail. They won't understand but it will help. I also met a bunch of people this way who also struggled from DPDR and knowing others who felt the same way was a huge wave of relief.
5- STOP THINKING ABOUT IT
Besides your 30 minutes of intentional brain training and the time you talk about it with your friends and therapist (oh yeah, get a therapist), you need to let it go. Stop checking. Stop trying to make it go away. Stop replaying what happened and why and when and how. STOP GOOGLING. Know that this is your situation and make the best of it. Not thinking about it is hard. It requires a ton of discipline but I know you can do it.
You are not alone and if nothing else, let this post be evidenced that there is someone else who has seen what you have and come out on the other side. I know this doesn't make it better but I promise you that I am real and that I exist and so do you.