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I suffered with severe DP/DR for a long time. I got over it. I want to help others struggling.


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#1 KittyKitten

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:36 PM

Hello, everyone!
 
I want to start out by saying that I was once a regular on these boards. Probably for over a year. I came on many times a day just to read posts or to post and read responses. My life pretty much revolved around my DP/DR symptoms as well as research on what could be causing the issue or what could help the issue. I'm sure I will have some naysayers who don't believe/agree with what my post says. However, even if I help just ONE person with this post, I've done my job. I always said that if I got out of the living nightmare hell that is DP/DR, that I'd help others. I'm hoping this post does just that!!
 
My name is Kitten (not my real name, but close to it for privacy reasons). I'm a 31 year old mom and wife. I've had minor issues with OCD and anxiety for most of my life. Little things that weren't that big of a nuisance. I had a thing with pulling my hair...but it didn't consume me. I worried about things too much, as my loved ones would say. I met and married my husband and about three years later, I got pregnant. Pregnancy was scary for me, as I'd never wanted to become pregnant but decided to go through with it anyway. I had a lot of support. My husband was supportive and helpful. My mom was home and helpful. Even my brother moved in with mom and was here to offer support. I had my baby and everything was magical. Beautiful.
 
And then just six weeks later, my support system was essentially "gone", if you will. My husband went back to work full-time with overtime added. My mom decided to go back to work 40+ hours a week. My brother moved out and got an apartment. I was essentially stuck inside the house, with no car and a newborn. I adapted pretty well and pretty quickly considering I'd never taken care of a baby before in my life. I was alone. A lot. I became very lonely. Staring at the clock pretty much all day waiting for mom or hubby or someone to come over. I didn't have a car at the time because my husband was using it for work. I live in an area where you'd have to walk 20-30 minutes before you could get to a park, library or store.
 
Within the first year, I began to develop what I call health anxiety, or hypochondria. I would regularly feel like I was having a heart attack or some other MAJOR illness. I made many trips to the urgent care or ER and was always told "nothing at all is wrong. go home". I spent my day worrying about my health, experiencing phantom pains or symptoms. At one point, I was convinced that I had a thyroid problem and actually felt my throat swelling up. When I had my blood checked and found there was nothing wrong with my thryoid, my throat swelling-sensation went away. The health anxiety stuff lasted for months. Once I convinced myself that "listen, there's nothing wrong with you and even if there is, there's no reason to obsess or worry about something you can't control", my anxiety and OCD switched to DP/DR.
 
My DP/DR symptoms were very much like everyone else's. They would morph, get worse, get better, get worse again. The best way I could describe the way that I felt was like I was holding onto my sanity by a thread. I truly felt that I had to just get through one more day...because the minute I "gave in" to the weird sensations, I'd go crazy.
 
Some of my symptoms included:
 
• Feeling detached
• Looking at myself and feeling severe disconnect. Not knowing who/what I was.
• Looking at others (my mom, husband or the worst, my child) and feeling confused over who/what they were.
• Looking at normal things and being petrified because nothing made SENSE anymore.
• Never feeling relaxed. Always feeling SCARED. PETRIFIED. HORRIFIED.
• Feeling like I was floating above and away from my body.
• Spacing out.
• Being severely confused over what everything was.
• Doing minial tasks and feeling severe disconnect and fear.
• Tunnel vision.
• Numbers were weird. Memories were weird. Faces were weird.
• Not feeling in control of myself or my surroundings. Like I was going to go totally nuts any second.
• Getting severe "waves" of dissociation, making me think my symptoms were getting worse.
• Feeling a severe sense of dread almost all the time.
 
There were points where I couldn't even brush my hair because the hairbrush nor my hair would make sense. It was an incredibly confusing, petrifying time for me. I was alone, in a house with a baby for up to 10 hours a day and feeling so severely dissociated that I felt I couldn't trust myself. I always felt like one day would just be it. I'd go nuts. I'd FINALLY lose all touch with reality. There were times when I had my baby outside and had to rush her back into the house because I'd start to "dissociate" badly. I felt if I was too far from the house, maybe I'd dissociate to the point of not being able to find my way back home. There were a few times I called my husband home from work because I was convinced I was going to dissociate so severely that I wouldn't be able to care for our daughter.
 
I finally bought a car. I was happy. MAYBE just MAYBE I could drive around and get out of this "funk". So I did. Me and my baby girl went cruising. I went to the town next to mine to do some shopping. And on the way, a wave of severe dissociation came over me so bad that I vowed never to use the car by myself without another adult in it again. As I was driving, I started dissociating and felt like everything didn't make sense. The lines...the lights...the other cars...where the fuck was I? What the living FUCK? The first time that happened, I came home and just went into the bathroom and started crying. My life was a living nightmare. I noticed that my DP/DR got better when I had "safe people" around me....like my mom or husband. It wasn't fully gone, but better. I felt like if I totally "lost it" while I was out in public, I'd at least have someone there to drag me back to the sanity and safety of our car or something.
 
All this time, I kept logging onto the internet. Checking these forums "I just experienced -such-and-such-....is this normal? Does everyone else who has DP/DR get this, too?". I would regularly look for ways to "cure" my dissociation. I was desparate to find a cure. I didn't give a shit what it was. I felt sick. I was convinced there was something MAJORLY wrong with me. I felt mentally ill and desperate to get help. I started making calls around. I went to see my doctor who prescribed me an anti-anxiety. It did shit. I stopped taking it after two months realizing it did nothing but make me dizzy as all hell when taking it. I went on anti-depressants. They did nothing at all. In fact, the first month I felt that they made my symptoms worse. I stopped taking them, too. My doctor told me to go and see a psychologist. Now, you guys have to realize...I live in a ho-bunk town and the medical professionals aren't the best. The psychologist who I saw, I explained everything. I told her I felt very disconnected. Like I was in a dream all the time. And that it was causing me severe anxiety. She looked at me and asked if I had been tested for amnesia and that it could be a health problem. I left the office and never made an appointment again...she obviously knew nothing about anxiety.
 
That's when I started thinking about other health issues that could be causing it. Did I have a brain tumor? Did I have a vitamin deficiency? Maybe I needed to take better-quality vitamins? Maybe it was the artificial sweeteners in my Diet Coke? Maybe it was caffeine? Oh shit...the fluoride in my toothpaste....it's the fluoride in the toothpaste. I can't tell you guys how many things I thought was causing my DP/DR. At one point, I was using non-fluoridated toothpaste, drinking nothing but water, spending nearly $200 a month on vitamins and supplements and avoiding caffeine like the fucking plague. Because any time I drank anything caffeinated, my DP/DR would get worse. Or at least...I convinced myself of that.
 
After going through this literal, everyday, every minute living hell for about a year and a half, my mom retired and I was spending more time talking with her and going out. My symptoms didn't go away instantly. In fact, I spent the first few months of her being retired thinking "damn, I thought when she retired and I had someone to talk to and be with all the time, I'd get better". But soon, my symptoms started clearing. Things started making sense again. I could have FUN with my daughter without being petrified because she looked weird and foreign. I could look at myself in the mirror and tweeze my eyebrows without being shocked because I didn't recognize myself. I put on a lot of weight throughout my DP/DR ordeal, but I was feeling damn good otherwise.
 
It's been probably over a year now since my DP/DR lifted entirely. There are times when I will have a short "burst" of DP/DR feelings, but they don't last. And I'm going to try to explain how and why I think I got over the hell without medications and without major lifestyle changes.
 
• Socialize -
I truly believe that my DP/DR was triggered and lasted so long because of isolation. If you're spending a lot of time alone with no one to talk to, find a way to change things. As I like to say...if you don't keep your brain busy, it'll keep it busy for you.
 
• Get Busy -
Inactivity gives your brain a lot of time to think about things. I truly, 100 percent believe that most DP/DR cases are OCD-related. I am sure that the majority of people on these forums have OCD and that your DP/DR is simply another manifestation of your obsessiveness. It's why you (and I in the past) spend so much time on these forums. It's our compulsion. It's a way for us to obsess just a little bit more or to verify why we're feeling the way we feel. When you get busy to the point that your mind isn't able to run a race around itself and get into an obsessive rut, you'll find your DP/DR gets better.
 
• Don't Use Coping Skills...Seriously -
When it comes to OCD, coping skills can just make your anxiety and symptoms worse long-term. Coping skills are there to tell your brain "hey...there's something really wrong with me, so I need to do this-or-that to feel better". Things I regularly did when my DP/DR got bad included: vaping (I'd vape because I felt it "calmed me down"), mobile apps and games, social media. I was pretty much on my tablet ALL.THE.TIME. Why? Because looking around the room or at other people bothered me so much that I thought I should just bury myself in my device. But what helps is forcing yourself to look at the room and other pople...no matter how weird they look. Don't try to analyze anything. Let that shit feel weird. You won't go nuts, or you would've already.
 
• Think About It...But Don't Obsess Over It -
This helped me a LOT. The problem with my DP/DR was that I was repressing it. I was so afraid of it, that I would dread when I felt it. Anytime I got a weird thought or existential obsession, I'd try to force myself to stop feeling or thinking that way. Once I started viewing it as more of an inconvenience and annoyance or just a "weird feeling or thought" than something that was LITERALLY.GOING.TO.DRIVE.ME.TO.THE.CRAZY.HOUSE, my anxiety calmed down and the feelings of DP/DR went away. I am sure you've all heard that DP/DR is a result of severe anxiety. You are anxious over a feeling of anxiety...which perpetuates the cycle. Weird anxiety-related symptom>fear of symptom>forcing self to stop feeling that way or thinking that way>weird anxiety-related symptom. When you get a feeling or thought, let it sit there...but don't start analyzing it or obsessing over "what it could mean/do/be/become". I used to try to control my feelings because I felt that if I didn't, I'd dissociate so badly I wouldn't even be in my body. But all repressing it did was make it last longer.
 
• Stop Isolating Yourself -
Again, I truly believe that my DP/DR was trigged by being alone. Isolation isn't good. I'm an introvert. I hate crowds, always have. I don't like people, always have. But even us introverts need to socialize. Connect with a family member, friend, make arrangements to spend time with people. If you're a teenager or young adult, get closer to your parents and spend time with them.
 
• STOP DOING RESEARCH -
Someone on these forums once told me that my DP/DR could be a result of minor seizures. I have never had a seizure, but when she said it, I sure believed it could be true. Your DP/DR is a result of over-obsession of your symptoms and doing too much research and talking to people about your symptoms. I found that when I spent time with my husband and mom, all I would talk about was my DP/DR. It made me feel good to get the things off my chest. But what it was doing was just reinforcing that I had a problem. I was constantly looking things up online, on these forums, talking about my symptoms...it was my life...no wonder the symptoms lasted, it's all I talked about! It's as if you were talking about yourself to someone and always saying what a stupid person you were...you'd eventually believe it and even feel stupid, even if you weren't. If you constantly talk, write, read about or obsess over DP/DR, you're going to be depersonalized and derealized. Also, like attracts like. You're talking about a symptom of OCD and anxiety with a lot of other people with OCD and anxiety. I'm not saying that people on this forum aren't genuinely amazing people: they are. But their anxiety can feed off of your anxiety and vice versa. And as far as looking for validation: no you're not crazy, you're stuck in a fear/OCD/anxiety cycle surrounded by DP/DR thoughts and feelings. That is all. Your symptoms are no different than anyone else's and if they are, it doesn't matter. How unique your symptoms are DOES NOT MATTER. Some days it's worse than others. It doesn't mean it's getting worse. I haven't come onto these forums in awhile and I'm only on here to post this to help others. I refuse to start browsing these forums again. Again, this is nothing against ANYONE here at all. It's just the nature of the beast. It's like an ex-smoker going onto a smoking site or watching smoking videos all day.
 
• Stop Believing There's Something Wrong with You -
I pretty much thought up every scenario possible. No way in hell were my awful symptoms a result of just meer OCD obsessing and anxiety. I stopped drinking caffeine because I truly believed I was caffeine-sensitive. I went out and bought expensive vitamins because I was convinced I had a vitamin deficiency. I thought maybe it was a brain tumor? Maybe I had an issue with my thyroid. At one point, I was convinced that I had a hormone imbalance from giving birth. There is NOTHING wrong with you. I stopped all the bullshit and went back to living normally. I now drink caffeine CONSTANTLY. I drink diet soda drinks CONSTANTLY...which are filled with artificial sweeteners and caffeine (my two biggest fears when my DP/DR was at its worst). I use fluoridated toothpaste. I don't take vitamins...ever...and my diet is shitty as the hills (I'm basically the opposite of keto...I love my carbs). I'm not trying to say that my lifestyle is ideal. It's not. I know I need to eat better and take better care of myself, but what I'm trying to say is that none of those things contributed to DP/DR. If they did, I'd still have DP/DR and I don't.
 
• Patience and Time -
You want to be cured. Today. You want everything to get better. Today. The problem is, like so many other things, you need to give it time. You might be saying "but it's been one year, three years, 10 years, 20 years...I've GIVEN it time". But...you're still on these forums. When I finally realized that my DP/DR was a direct coorelation of my OCD, I realized that obsessing over it, researching it, looking for validation and talking about it constantly weren't going to make it go away. I immediately got off of these forums and any time I would be tempted to TALK about my DP/DR to my mom or husband or brother, I would stop myself. The more you read into your symptoms, the longer they will be there. If what you have right now is OCD-related, which I truly believe it is, obsessing over it MORE isn't going to help. That's actually exactly how OCD works. However, it takes time to get over the obsession. It's not an overnight fix.
 
• Less is MORE -
I like to think of OCD and DP/DR as benefiting from the less-is-more approach. The MORE you research your symptoms, the MORE you look for validation of your symptoms, the MORE you talk about your symptoms, the MORE you fear your symptoms, the MORE you focus solely and obsess over your symptoms, the MORE you convince yourself there's something seriously wrong with you, the MORE you think you need something to get over it or deal with it (meds, alcohol, drugs, tobacco), the MORE the symptoms will be there. The LESS you research DP/DR, the LESS you talk about it, the LESS you fear it, the LESS you obsess over it, the LESS you dread having it come back, the LESS you use coping skills to handle the anxiety, the LESS it will be there.
 
• De-Stress -
I truly believe stress is an underlying factor for why DP/DR is triggered. For me, I was stressed over being a new mom, not having much help and because I was not sleeping properly or eating properly. I put a lot of stress on my body and mind and it eventually decided to zone out. Isolation and the loneliness that comes with it didn't help. I think it's a good idea to take time for yourself and to really force yourself to do things you used to like. When I was deep into my DP/DR, I couldn't exercise. Not because I was too tired or disabled, but because any time I worked out, I would focus on feeling dissociated and it made me feel worse. My body moving was weird because I didn't even feel like I was IN my body. But whenever I'd race off of the treadmill to get away from "those" feelings, I didn't realize that I was just reinforcing my fears. I mean, there must have been something really bad if I can't even walk on a treadmill, right? No. There wasn't. However, if you're using a de-stressing technique to RUN AWAY from your feelings, stop doing it. You literally need to face these sensations/thoughts/feelings, no matter how bad they are.
 
For me, my symptoms didn't go away over night. It took months. Months of not talking about my DP/DR...to ANYONE. Months of not researching it. Months of staying off of the forums. Months of busying myself. Months of doing things despite feeling derealized. Months of forcing myself to FEEL the sensations of DP/DR and not running away, crying or cutting corners. It's okay to allow yourself time to heal. When someone you love passes away, you don't get over it the next day. When you have a wound, it doesn't instantly go away, scar and all, within a day. Why would your DP/DR? But if you keep picking at the wound and throwing shit into it, it's never going to heal.
I remember asking my mom once, "Mom, how do you shut your mind up? All mine does is panic and think about how weird something is or feels or looks. It's like my brain won't shut the fuck up. I can't even take a shower without feeling dissociated." and she looked at me weird and said "I just think about random things...like when I'm in the shower, I think about what I'm going to do for the day". And at the time, I was like "pishhh...she doesn't know what I'M going through!" but now, I can take a shower and literally be thinking about dinner for that night and how I'm going to make it.
 
Are there times when my DP/DR flares up? Yes. And it can. Why? Because it is a type of OCD. It's like someone whose OCD revolves around everything being contaminated/dirty. They can get over the OCD...but in months or years, they may be tempted to become obsessed over it again for one reason or another (maybe coming down with a contagious sickness triggers their old contamination OCD). The person can fall into the same PIT of despair as before....if they let it happen. The same thing can happen with DP/DR. If you get a feeling a month, year, 10 years after getting over it, let it wash over you and keep going about your day. The minute you start obsessing over it "ohhh shit...it's back....it's BACK....NOOOOOooooooOOOOooo!!!", it's going to stick and you're going to have to work to get it to go away again. Sometimes, when I think about DP/DR...like when I write about it or think about it.....I get those old sensations of feeling disconnected and dissociated. However, I just get back to life and I don't let it stop me, and I certainly don't start doing research on it or start telling people around me how awful I feel. The feelings don't last very long as a result.
 
What does it feel like to be "recovered", so to say? I like to say it's not so much recovery as it's a different mind set. You're not recovering from anything. It's not an illness. It is a current obsessive state of mind. Similar to a hypocondriac who can't get through the day without thinking they have some horrible underlying disease. They don't actually have a disease. Having a different mind set means I can spend time with my daughter without living in fear. It means I can bake cookies or cook dinner without feeling like I'm going to lose control over myself and forget to turn off the heat and set the house on fire. It's being able to remember something from my past without being petrified of what memories even are or analyzing how they work. It's relaxing at night with a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie or a television show. It's looking in the mirror and feeling nothing, no fear. It's going out into public and being more ANNOYED with the crowds than scared of them. It's taking a bath at night and actually relaxing rather than crying because nothing makes sense. The world doesn't have that "dirty glass" or "tunnel vision" look to it anymore. My nervous system has finally relaxed enough because I decided I wasn't going to give a shit about DP/DR anymore. When I was deep into my anxiety and DP/DR, even sitting in bed at night was terrifying. Everything looked foreign. I even sounded foreign to myself. But now I just sit there and veg out. Hell, sometimes I stare at the wall thinking about the holidays or the upcoming week or finances or some other random thing.
 
Again, I hope that my post will help someone. I know I'll have the naysayers who say they've tried everything and have had it for 30+ years, but again, I would say to maybe stop coming onto the forums or doing research on it as a great place to start. If this post can help just one person, I'd be so happy. Again, and sorry for the long post, but I'm only on here to post my recovery story. I will not be checking profiles/other posts/other links/etc. I'll only be here to reply to comments and that's it. Thanks for reading, everyone!
 
Good luck, everyone!!


#2 inspiredpoet

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 05:02 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write, it was a helpful read!

 

I have had glimpses of feeling better when I am out and being an active participant in the world. That main trouble I have is that it's hard to just carry on as normal. Today for example, I have been outside, it's hot and sunny, and at times I feel spaced out, overwhelmed, weird thoughts and ideas come into my head about the world, and I can't help but think 'this sucks', 'it isn't fair I feel like this', 'I want to feel normal!'. So how do you stay positive, keep going in those moments? 



#3 KittyKitten

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 08:03 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write, it was a helpful read!

 

I have had glimpses of feeling better when I am out and being an active participant in the world. That main trouble I have is that it's hard to just carry on as normal. Today for example, I have been outside, it's hot and sunny, and at times I feel spaced out, overwhelmed, weird thoughts and ideas come into my head about the world, and I can't help but think 'this sucks', 'it isn't fair I feel like this', 'I want to feel normal!'. So how do you stay positive, keep going in those moments? 

 

Thanks so much!

 

That's exactly what I found, too. I noticed that when I was super focused, busy or obsessed with something else, my DP/DR would lessen significantly, slightly or even go away temporarily. Then, as soon as I'd stop doing the activity, I'd again focus solely on feeling derealized and depersonalized (dissociated, as I call it). This goes to prove there is nothing wrong with you medically and that it's a focus-based obsession. I remember one time, while I was deep into my DP/DR, I got into an argument with a distant relative....boy....I didn't have a lick of DP/DR feelings as I went off on that ass. It can be hard to focus on other things, though, especially given how horrible the sensations and thoughts were (there was a point I couldn't look at a calendar because the days of the week/months/everything didn't make sense). 

 

It's not fair to have to deal with DP/DR. It's life-consuming and overwhelming. However, I found that feeling sorry for yourself and trying to force yourself to NOT feel that way only makes the symptoms last longer. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to get through the dark shit first. As a side note, I found that watching comedy videos, making jokes, joking about DP/DR helped. I remember reading a woman write that when she was dissociated, it felt like she was tipsy/drunk. So, she convinced herself to start enjoying the feeling (hey...it's literally like getting tipsy without spending money on alcohol!! WIN-WIN) and her symptoms lifted within a matter of weeks. Getting off of these forums helps, too. In fact, my DP/DR was at its worst when I was very active on these forums. It's because I spent most of the day checking posts/reading posts and even had other people's symptoms play off of my own. Do you guys know that I got a pit in my stomach logging into my account just to make this post? That goes to say something.

 

But yeah, as far as staying positive....I never really felt POSITIVE, so to say. I just started having "less scary" days and then the DP/DR just kinda lifted. Many psychologists who specialize in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) will tell you that if you have OCD or anxiety of any kind, you actually need to feel like crap to get better. You have to sit with the feelings of severe anxiety, derealization and existentialism and simply let the thoughts and feelings come....and don't try to push them away. But certainly don't let those feelings force you to run back into the house. That only proves to your brain that there really is something wrong. And there's not.

 

I also wanted to make a note because I once read awhile ago someone asking "when I finally get over my DP/DR, will I remember anything?" Yes. You will. In fact, my memories of the almost two years I had DP/DR are the most vivid. I remember menial tasks like the back of my hand. Now that I don't have DP/DR, if you ask me what I did yesterday, I'd have to think about it for a minute or two. Basically, your nervous system is in overdrive and your brain is on high alert for imminent danger that isn't even there. Once you teach your brain that it's okay to sit with the feelings and fears and once you stop researching, reading about or talking about the problems you're experiencing, your nervous system will calm down and you'll feel normal.

 

I also want to add that it's normal to feel depressed when deep into DP/DR. It's totally normal and honestly, to be expected. I used to get severe waves of depression and feelings of despair. They were awful. Those, too, will go away after you come out of the funk of dissociation. The reason you're depressed is because you are constantly scared and petrified. Once you aren't feeling so petrified about yourself and the world around you, you'll stop feeling depressed.



#4 Fromhollandwithlove

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 08:59 AM

First of all, congrats on being recovered!! 

What an amazing post. There hasn't been a post like this for a long time, so thank you for using your precious time. 

 

I'v been dp'd for about 2 years now and I'v had better and worse times. In retrospect i think the best times were when I started dating again, forcing myself to be with friends (So NOT isolating). 

Right now I'm in a very rough patch again, but reading this just reinforces the believe that socializing and just LIVING is the way to recover or atleast make things MUCH better. 

 

I also believe that dpdr is a combination of severe anxiety and OCD. Sometimes I can feel better but because of recurring obsessive thoughts I can slip back into a depressive state within seconds. So staying inside that positieve mindset flow is so important. 

 

Again, thank you for making this post! I'm gonna try my best to start seeing friends again and making socializing a top priority. 



#5 KittyKitten

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 09:35 AM

First of all, congrats on being recovered!! 

What an amazing post. There hasn't been a post like this for a long time, so thank you for using your precious time. 

 

I'v been dp'd for about 2 years now and I'v had better and worse times. In retrospect i think the best times were when I started dating again, forcing myself to be with friends (So NOT isolating). 

Right now I'm in a very rough patch again, but reading this just reinforces the believe that socializing and just LIVING is the way to recover or atleast make things MUCH better. 

 

I also believe that dpdr is a combination of severe anxiety and OCD. Sometimes I can feel better but because of recurring obsessive thoughts I can slip back into a depressive state within seconds. So staying inside that positieve mindset flow is so important. 

 

Again, thank you for making this post! I'm gonna try my best to start seeing friends again and making socializing a top priority. 

 

Thanks, again!!

 

I'm glad someone else believes me!! I've found that a lot of those with DP/DR (including myself) want to believe and find something genuinely wrong with themselves. A vitamin deficiency? A brain tumor? A hormone imbalance? Caffeine sensitivity? Calcification of the pituitary gland due to fluoride? (I seriously considered that for awhile). But when it comes down to it, your brain and body are actually pretty damn normal. It's just gotten into a loop of obsessive thinking/feelings. Hey, listen, if I sit here and talk about what an idiot I am, do research on why I'm so stupid...I'm going to start thinking/feeling/acting stupid. I have OCD with other things, too...and I'm sure if others truly look at their past thinking patterns, they'll find that they have OCD, too. Sometimes I get obsessed over thinking I smell something burning. Sometimes I get obsessed over my teeth, or my weight, or my health. OCD doesn't mean what a lot of people think what it means. It's not wanting everything in a row and in order because it "bugs" you if it isn't. OCD is obsessive thinking or obsessive sensations that occur that take over your life. And compulsions that go along with it include: logging onto forums and sites looking for validation, talking to other people so they know you have a "problem", doing research on possible medical problems, etc. And the compulsions are typically what keep OCD going. Yes, there is pure-o (purely obsessive) that comes with no compulsions, but the same way to recovery applies: just sit with the anxiety but get on with life as if you don't have it. Convince yourself you don't have DP/DR the same way you might convince yourself there's something genuinely wrong with you.

 

I also like to say, hey...if it's OCD....find something else (that's less life-consuming) to become obsessed about. It's not as simple as turning on and off a light switch, but you might become obsessed with working out (I've found a lot of people on these forums found that INTENSE workouts helped them....and honestly, it's for no other reason but because they became obsessed with something else). I sometimes find that my OCD gets stuck on health-related shit a lot lately. Phantom pains and symptoms that probably aren't even there. Similar to the sensations of DP/DR, it's all in your head. You're still here, even if you feel like you aren't. The world still exists as it always has, even if you feel like you're slipping away.

 

And yes, if you sit and start thinking about DP/DR, it can and will come back because it's an old thought pattern. The key is to not let it get back into a loop. The way to prevent it getting back into a loop is to simply let it stay there, but to gently divert your focus onto something else and to not start talking about it, worrying about it, obsessing over it or dreading it. Even recovered, there are split seconds when I'll think about DP/DR...it could be as simple as "hey, I think I'm going to make a recovery post on that forum....damn, I remember all my symptoms...they really sucked..." and then I'd start feeling derealized a little again. In order to prevent it coming back full-force, I focus on other things and get busy doing something else.

 

With DP/DR recovery, it's not as simple as waking up one day and feeling fully better. It won't be like that. It's kind of like an onion. By taking the less-is-more approach I talked about in my original post, you'll notice that one day it's better...then next week it's a little bit better....ohh, a bad day...okay...whatever....then it's better stil….then better....then better.....and then one day, you'll just get through the day without worrying about feeling dissociated and your life will be normal from there on.



#6 Phantasm

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 08:47 AM

I'm really happy for you kittykitten. I think you were the one I first read who made a direct comparison with OCD, and I'd never really thought of it that way because I had no external rituals. To me OCD was this thing that was peculiar to other people, and not something that related to me, but when I thought about it yep of course I had obsessive and repetitive thinking patterns. You see it all the time here, whether it's obsessively reading medical papers or self-checking for new symptoms. I was always self-analyzing, and in doing so constantly reinforcing the notion that there was something very wrong with me, just as you said.

 

I liked what you said about using our obsessive natures for us instead of against us. Turning it towards healing and healthy practices. It reminds me of the film Trainspotting 2 where Renton talks about being an addict, so be addicted to something else! I've heard it described as the law of substitution. Replacing the obsession with something new, something better. I'm doing it with gentle suggestion when I'm daydreaming, like I'll say softly to myself, "imagine I'm fully recovered, right now, how would that be?" and it helps me build on a sense of how I want to be, as if it's already happened. The mind is very direct and what we dwell on in the present acts as instruction for how we will be.   



#7 KittyKitten

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 07:32 PM

I'm really happy for you kittykitten. I think you were the one I first read who made a direct comparison with OCD, and I'd never really thought of it that way because I had no external rituals. To me OCD was this thing that was peculiar to other people, and not something that related to me, but when I thought about it yep of course I had obsessive and repetitive thinking patterns. You see it all the time here, whether it's obsessively reading medical papers or self-checking for new symptoms. I was always self-analyzing, and in doing so constantly reinforcing the notion that there was something very wrong with me, just as you said.

 

I liked what you said about using our obsessive natures for us instead of against us. Turning it towards healing and healthy practices. It reminds me of the film Trainspotting 2 where Renton talks about being an addict, so be addicted to something else! I've heard it described as the law of substitution. Replacing the obsession with something new, something better. I'm doing it with gentle suggestion when I'm daydreaming, like I'll say softly to myself, "imagine I'm fully recovered, right now, how would that be?" and it helps me build on a sense of how I want to be, as if it's already happened. The mind is very direct and what we dwell on in the present acts as instruction for how we will be.   

 

Thanks smile.png

 

Yes, I truly, 100% believe there is a direct link to MOST, if not all, cases of DP/DR and OCD. What is DP/DR? It is an obsessive state of sensations and thoughts with or without compulsions. When the obsession isn't followed by a compulsion, it's called pure-o (or purely obsessive). However, compulsions are more than just checking your door's lock 50 times before leaving the house. Some of the compulsions could be:

 

• Constant research on medical problems that could be causing the DP/DR

• Constant research on cures and remedies of DP/DR

• Constant trips to the doctor/psych wanting meds/help

• Constantly talking about it to friends and family

• Asking others for help/recommendations "are my symptoms normal?"

• Constant "reality" checking "does this room look real? do I look/sound normal?"

• Reaching for a vape/cig any time you're feeling badly

• Reaching for alcohol any time you're feeling badly

• Reaching for medication (Xanax) any time you're feeling badly

 

I used to do a thing where I'd count out to four on my fingers any time I felt severely dissociated. I liked to think it was my way of "connecting" back to my body. But honestly, looking at that, it was a compulsion. A compulsion is something that you do to temporarily take your mind off of the obsession and/or deal with the anxiety. Unfortunately, the more compulsions you do, the worse the anxiety gets. It's basically like telling your brain "I am feeling awful, there is something wrong, so I need this-or-that to feel better". And it works. Temporarily. And then the DP/DR comes back and you're again looking to restart the compulsion.

 

At one point, I was doing nothing but researching cures for DP/DR. If you could have seen my Google search history, you'd die laughing:

 

"how to cure dp"

"getting rid of dp permanently"

"how to not feel dissociated"

"how to cure dp/dr for good"

"ways to overcome dp/dr"

 

and I read, and read, and read, and read, and read. And I'd feel good. I'd feel damn hopeful for a brief few minutes, few hours...and then I'd feel badly again...and back on Google I went. I remember my mom saying "are you doing research again??!!!" and I was like "yeah...but it's not on bad stuff, I'm reading about cures and how to help get rid of it" and she said something that, at the time, made no sense, but now makes perfect sense. She said "as long as you're doing research on it, good or bad, you're obsessing over it". Once I stopped researching it (as well as other behaviors that I listed in my original post), it gradually started lifting away.

 

Also, with OCD, there's a lot of issues with needing to be 100 percent sure. Most people with OCD are perfectionists. I can guarantee any one who is reading this right now is a perfectionist and even possibly a little teensy bit of a control freak (I'm a control freak, no offense at ALL). The problem with DP/DR and why it becomes an obsession is because there is no certainty and a loss of control, and it makes us nervous as all hell not being 100 percent sure of something or in control.

 

"I feel dissociated, I don't feel alive. I don't feel like the world around me is real. I need to know it's real. I need to feel real."

Well...maybe it's not real, you can't be 100 percent certain.

 

"I don't like feeling out of control. I feel like I have no control over my body. I might do something horrible or awful. I'm petrified."

Well, maybe you will do something horrible or awful. There's no way to be 100 percent certain.

 

"I feel so dissociated at times, I feel like I'm going to go totally nuts. I'm going to FINALLY lose the little bit of sanity I have left."

Well, maybe you will totally dissociate to the point of going nuts. There's no way to know 100 percent.

 

"I've read and researched that maybe there's an underlying medical problem causing my DP/DR and I NEED treatment...NOW! How can I be sure there's nothing medically wrong with me??!!!"

Well, maybe there is something medically wrong with you. There's no way to know 100 percent.

 

Letting go of the what if's and anxiety that comes with them will help a LOT. When I was severely dissociated, I couldn't watch horror movies or read anything crime-related. Anything I read or watched would give me severe anxiety on top of my already severe anxiety. Now, I love watching horror movies (except for the real gory stuff...I've always hated that.) And I love true crime stories and shows and books.

 

The problem with OCD is that it's been labeled as a cutesy thing that most people have. "I hate how my kids fold laundry...I get all OCD about it!". No. OCD is an all-encompassing life-changing experience that overtakes every aspect of your life. There are many different subtypes of OCD. I'm going to list a few...but forgive me, since it's been awhile since I've done research and don't know the names 100 percent.

 

Harm-OCD

- You're constantly getting intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or others and even get impulses to do it (intrusive sensation), so you lock away all the knives and lock your bedroom door at night just to be safe (compulsion).

 

Pedo-OCD

- You get intrusive thoughts about sexually abusing kids and you hate yourself and think you might be a pedophile, so you avoid kids and pray for forgiveness (compulsion).

 

Schizo-OCD

- You think you might have schizophrenia and get intrusive thoughts that make you think they could be voices, so you check symptoms constantly and regularly ask for validation from friends and family that you're normal (compulsion).

 

Contamination-OCD

- You're petrified of getting a contagious virus and think everything is contaminated around you, so you regularly overwash yourself (taking multiple showers a day) and clean your home obsessively and drive the family crazy with washing their hands (compulsion).

 

Hypochondria

- You think you have cancer, a disease or some type of strange underlying illness. You get phantom pains and check for problems multiple times a day, so you make doctors appointments often and are always doing research on possible medical problems (compulsion).

 

Order and Symmetry-OCD

- You want everything in perfect order with perfect symmetry even a certain number of items/times or things, so you regularly organize your living space to exhaustion, count steps, check the door 39 times before leaving the house (compulsion).

 

Fire-OCD

- You constantly fear and obsess over a catastrophic fire that destroys your home and regularly check stoves, ovens and heating systems to ensure they aren't on (compulsion). You might even think you smell something burning, so you run around trying to find the problem and have other people try to pick up the burning smell (compulsion) -and they always say they don't smell anything.

 

Now, let's talk about, what I've been calling dissociative-OCD.

 

Dissociative-OCD

- You constantly feel dissociated (intrusive sensation) and get thoughts about whether the world is real and if you're real and what could be wrong with you (intrusive thoughts), so you take meds, do research, avoid certain public places, obsess over possible cures, talk to family about it constantly, etc, etc, etc. (compulsion).

 

In the past year, I've taken a very carefree approach to my feelings. What I mean by that, is that I just don't care about intrusive thoughts or sensations anymore. There's that saying "the less you give a fuck, the happier you will be". It's very true. Sometimes, I'll get a weird random pain and my brain automatically (because of past hypochondria) automatically goes to "oh shit...appendix rupture...research symptoms now!!" and instead, I sit there and I'm like "oh well, I'll take two Advil and it'll go away and if it doesn't, I guess this is the way I'm going out". In the past, I'll get random bursts of dissociation DP/DR and instead of thinking "oh shit, it's BACK...Nooooo!!", I think "oh well, I must be tired or something. This feeling is actually kinda cool". And by not getting back into the obsessive loop, the feelings/thoughts almost immediately fall away.



#8 KittyKitten

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 10:41 AM

I've been thinking of a few other things to add to this post. So, here goes. I also want to add that this is my last post on these forums. I won't be around to reply to anyone's comments or messages!!

 

I've noticed in the past a lot of people blaming other things for causing their DP/DR. Things like drug use, alcohol use, caffeine, stress, etc, etc.

 

I truly believe that many things can trigger DP/DR, but they don't contribute to the feelings lasting long-term. For example, there are times when I feel so exhausted that I begin to feel dissociated (get into that dream-like state, nothing around me feels real). In this case, the exhaustion CAUSED the feelings, but by obsessing over the feelings, they can linger long-term.

 

When I was deep intop my DP/DR, I was convinced that certain things were causing my DP/DR. I vowed to never drink caffeine and convinced myself that whenever I did drink something containing caffeine, it made my DP/DR worse. The problem that this causes is that it makes you powerless. And you're not. By saying "well...I did drugs and it caused my DP/DR", you're essentially saying "I can't get rid of it now because the drugs caused it.". This is completely untrue. While these things, like a simple panic attack, might TRIGGER the DP/DR, the only thing that is causing it to stay is your focus on it.

 

I like to think of DP/DR as a "focus-based obsession". I'm going to explain what I mean by this and some instances where this holds true.

 

You have DP/DR. You feel dissociated pretty much 24/7. Unless, that is, you become completely focused or obsessed over something else. For instance, you have a horrible toothache. You can't think of anything BUT your tooth hurting like crazy. Surprisingly, your DP/DR gets much better or even completely goes away during the time you have the toothache. You then get the tooth repaired at the dentist. You leave the office and think "wow, feel so much better.", your brain no longer has anything else to obsess over, so it goes back to what's familiar: DP/DR. The cycle starts again.

 

When I had DP/DR, there was a point when I got into a big argument with a relative. I was so pissed OFF at this person, that it was all I could think about. My brain was thinking of nothing but what I could say to this individual to put them in their place. Once the heat of the argument wore off, my brain became bored again and focused on DP/DR.

 

I'm sure most people reading this can think of a time when their focus was temporarily shifted to something else. You might have experienced minutes, hours or even days without the DP/DR. And I'm not talking about menial tasks. I'm not talking about changing your focus to something as insignificant as gardening or sweeping the floors or reading a sappy love story. I'm talking about something that was so drastic, you couldn't NOT focus on it. This further proves my point that DP/DR is a focus-based obsession. If it was physical, a condition caused by something else, you wouldn't have breaks in it at all. I liken it to something like being paralyzed. Someone who is paralyzed doesn't become mobile again simply by not thinking about their condition. However, with DP/DR, you can get rid of the thoughts/feelings by focusing on something else that is drastic enough to catch your attention.

 

This is also why a lot of people with OCD will switch obsessions over time. You might spend years with an obsession over your health, then it turns to DP/DR, then it turns into violent intrusive thoughts, then all of a sudden, you're obsessed over your weight and you're weighing yourself two or three times a day and counting macros like a madman. It's the nature of OCD.

 

The best way to draw your focus away from something is to stop obsessing over it. Easier said than done, right? Not really. Obsessing over something can be as simple as checking forums multiple times a day, telling people around you about your "problem", looking around the room constantly and assessing if everything looks real, obsessing over what could be causing the feelings and thoughts that you have, avoiding certain triggers (getting into a car, going outside), wearing sunglasses to block the brightness of the sun because it triggers your DP/DR. If you convince yourself that you have a problem by obsessing over it constantly, you're going to continue having said problem.

 

I remember there was a point that I told myself I needed to stop obsessing over DP/DR. I told myself that no matter how much I wanted...NEEDED...to log onto forums, talk to my family about it or research possible cures, I would NOT. My mom eventually asked me after about a week or two "wow, I guess you're feeling better. You haven't talked about your dissociation in awhile!" and I looked at her and said "Actually, I feel fucking horrible. But the more I give this thing focus, the more power it has over me." With OCD, it's crucial that you avoid compulsions. Compulsions are what keep the problem going. Compulsions can be as simple as checking a forum, putting on sunglasses to go out, vaping any time you feel especially "horrible". A compulsion could even include relying on a therapist/counselor or making additional psych appointments for meds (because you NEED to get over this hell TODAY!!) You're going to feel like shit without your compulsions. You're going to feel the NEED to perform these compulsions. You're going to think that you're going to finally lose yourself to DP/DR by not doing the compulsions. But, the beauty is that even though you'll feel awful for a little while, the DP/DR will actually start to lift. You're not talking about it anymore (whether online or off) and eventually, you'll stop thinking about it. And then you'll stop feeling it. It's actually an amazingly beautiful thing. It's kind of like an onion peeling away. It's not so much "how long will this take? I need a cure RIGHT NOW." It's a gradual process of having "less scary" days until eventually, you can go one, two, three days without feeling dissociated...and hey, you're actually thinking of things OTHER than DP/DR!! By not performing compulsive behaviors, you're eventually training your brain that you can handle the feelings of anxiety without running to something that lessens the anxiety/panic. And eventually, your brain realizes that there is no danger and that all is well. Your nervous system is able to calm down, naturally lifting those feelings of DP/DR. 

 

I also have to say this again and again and again and again....THERE IS NOTHING MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY WRONG WITH YOU. I have read pretty much everything on these forums:

 

• I have an excess in calcium, which is causing a calcification of certain parts of my brain. This is causing the DP/DR.

• The fluoride I used for years calcified the pineal/pituitary gland. This is causing my DP/DR

• I believe I am experiencing mini strokes/seizures which are causing the DP/DR.

• The fact that I do not exercise in an aerobic fashion is why I have DP/DR.

• I experienced severe trauma, I guess, when I was younger and I have DP/DR.

• I believe I have a hormonal imbalance that is causing my DP/DR.

 

Please, please, for all things that are holy, stop reading this bullshit and stop believing it and STOP RESEARCHING IT. What you have is anxiety. In a way, I sometimes feel that DP/DR is a form of health anxiety. (omg...I feel so dissociated...what's WRONG WITH MY BRAIN?? HELP ME NOW!). Once you convince yourself that there is an external reason for your DP/DR, you've given up your power over this obsession. It only causes more obsessing because now you think there's actually genuinely something wrong with you. There's not. 

 

It's also incredibly, incredibly, INCREDIBLY important to remember that as long as you're thinking about and obsessing and talking about and researching your dissociation, it's going to continue to be your primary focus. This includes GOOD RESEARCH, TOO. I told you guys in my original post that there was a point that all I did was read recovery stories. These were positive stories about people who overcame DP/DR. You would think they'd made me feel better. Well...they did....for a few minutes or hours....I'd feel pretty hopeful....and then I'd realize I wasn't getting over my dissociation and I went on the search for more positive stories. Even if you're talking about your DP/DR in a positive manner...you're still TALKING ABOUT YOUR DP/DR. See the link here, guys???

 

It's also important to realize that recovering from DP/DR isn't actually recovery. I'm going to explain what I mean. You guys see how my title post says "I got over it". There's a reason for this. Now, don't let this cause you to feel disappointed, but....there's no real recovery. What you have right now is a focus-based obsession. You have OCD that is currently obsessed with feeling dissociated, questioning your reality and reality checking CONSTANTLY. Even after the feelings subside, they can and will come back if you allow them to become a focus-based obsession again. This is why you see so many times "I was recovered!!!!! It came back!!!! HELP ME!!!". You were NEVER recovered. You simply SHIFTED your focus and obsession onto something else. By getting back into the obsession of feeling DP/DR, it came back.

 

I don't want to discourage anyone. I know you're all looking for the holy grail. The pill. The formula. The website. The medical journal. The therapist. The doctor. The recovery post. Anything that will give you the golden key to unlocking your recovery. But there is no recovery from something that is simply a focus-based obsession. If anything, you're managing your OCD. But you're not recovering from a condition. There is no condition to recover from, no matter how unique and awful it feels. It is simply a state of sensations and thoughts that are being caused by your obsessive over them. Once you learn to shift that obsession, the feelings naturally life and you focus on other things in life.

 

Do you know what I'm doing right now to keep my DP/DR away and not coming back? By not obsessing and focusing on it as well as avoiding all compulsive behaviors. I never exercise. Ever. I'm fat. I eat horrible, fatty, carb-laden foods. I don't take vitamins...ever. I never get a good night of sleep. I think it's normal for me to sleep maybe 5 hours a night..? If that, some nights. I drink Coke Zero ALL.THE.TIME. If it was a physical problem, I wouldn't and couldn't be living this way. My lifestyle isn't ideal. I know I have to lose weight and take better care of my physical health, but what I'm saying is that living a pure, healthy life isn't going to help. What will help is to stop all obsessions and compulsions. If I remember correctly, this is what a lot of psychologists call something like the "healthy alternative"...or something like that. It's basically where someone is dealing with anxiety, OCD, etc and they feel that if they cut out caffeine, drink green smoothies all day and exercise ONLY in an aerobic fashion, their anxiety will magically disappear. I'll tell you what, you can drink your green smoothies and take $5,000 vitamins and you're still going to be dissociated. Because you're obsessed over it and thinking/talking about it constantly.

 

I also have something to tell you guys. Now that I don't have DP/DR, I sometimes look back on it and think it was stupid. I wasted some of the best years of my life, spending time with my daughter and watching her grow obsessed over whether everything was real or not. And when you get out of it, you realize what a waste of time it actually was. Nothing ever changed, I never lost sense of reality, I was never committed to a psych hospital like I feared, I never drifted away, it never got worse (I had waves of it "feeling" worse, but that was about it). And realizing that everything has always been and is and always will be as it should be is what helps. When you're in the thick of it, it feels like the worst thing you've ever been through. I know that feeling. Something you wouldn't even wish on an enemy. But when you're out of it, you look back and you're like "what the hell? that was so ridiculously stupid...and a HUGE waste of my time." This is also what psychologists call (and forgive me for getting the name wrong..but it actually IS a real thing!!) moment-based feelings. It's kinda like a woman who gives birth...years later, she doesn't even remember the hell she went through and the pain involved. With DP/DR, you're so "in the moment" that you won't remember the exact feelings again unless you experience them. And the best way to prevent DP/DR from coming back is to prevent it from becoming a focus-based obsession and avoiding any and all compulsions that may be linked to this obsession.

 

This will also be my last post on these forums. I'm off to live life. Since dealing with DP/DR, I've secured a pretty great job, my daughter is almost turning five and I'm happy in my marriage. My life is dull and boring at times, but it's not filled with the severe panic and dread that came with 24/7 DP/DR. This is just my way of offering hope to everyone out there. Your life can and will get better. I know it may be tempting to want to "check out"...the thoughts and feelings of separation are that severe, but your life has so much more meaning than you might think. I truly hope that this thread is helpful to someone, anyone. While I might be off the forums, I advise you guys to just read, re-read and re-read these posts again and again. Get off of all other areas of the forum and then, once you understand what needs to be done, get off of this thread as well. Even reading recovery stories can trigger DP/DR because you're focusing on the problem again.

 

Good luck, everyone!!



#9 Shiny

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 04:19 PM

Hey kitty,

Just read your recovery post and the rest that followed. Not sure if you’ll even see this post as you have said you’ll not be returning. Anyhow... It’s so amazing to read your insight as it resonated with me straight away. And of course you’re right in that DP DR is nothing more than an Obsession.

For me it started through an overwhelmingly large amount of worry and stress. My mind and body simply couldn’t take anymore so it went into ‘protective mode’ (dpdr). Now of course; any normal, non anxiety ridden person would’ve simply ignored these new sensations until they went away. Oh no no no, not us already fearful folk. We questioned it, feared it and therefore turned it into an obsession all in itself.

2017 was the start of it for me and now, I still deal with it, just not in a debilitating form. I manage it. I know exactly what it is, I know it’s not remotely harmful (quite the opposite actually), I know it’s always brought on through thinking of it, I know it always passes. Through time and patience I’ve managed to live a life mostly without it. If I do experience it, it’s so mild now that it’s barely noticeable. What lingers for me is the obsession of the condition itself. I can sometimes just have ruminating thoughts about the obsession, without actually ‘feeling’ unreal. Then ... other times I can be completely living my life with the absence of the obsession. It always returns and therefore I’ve now accepted it, shook hands with it and welcomed it as part of me.

Pointless trying to work it out, fix it, stop thinking about ’it’. There is no ‘it’, it just is. Maybe one day it will just leave my mind completely, when I truly am able to let go. I’ve come so far that I’m certainly not going to give up now. Acceptance is what has led me to this point. It can only go up from here.




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