For some time I didn’t believe that it is possible. Although I had read tons of recovery stories, my conviction was that those people had an Intermittent period of improvement and falsely thought they had recovered, because I myself had many of these periods.
How I recovered basically? one day I just realized that I don’t have it anymore, and I was not noticing that, because it diminished very slowly.
How I had it :
I had depersonalization/derealization in October 2016 like most of you here through drugs. During one month I was very excited about the idea of taking ecstasy with my girlfriend. before that I had had ecstasy 3 times , in one of them I had intense anxiety and a short panic attack while coming up but the rest of the experience was generally great. I was also an irregular weed smoker on average I used to smoke once a week.
After one month of talking about it with my girlfriend how it will be a great and profound emotional and sensational experience, finally I bought two ecstasy pills from the street.
After 30 mins of taking the pill it started to kick in. I believe that the pill contained a very strong dose. I started to have anxiety, my heart beating accelerated, and I panicked.
During a real panic attack you would either think that you are losing your mind or you are dying, and I believed I was dying. I started shouting at girlfriend telling her that I’m going to die and to call an ambulance. It took around 15 mins for me to calm down.
During the trip I started to experience dp/dr for the first time. I was listening to music and I started to have what seemed to be a disturbing philosophical revelations about reality.
I woke the next day with the worst mood I ever had with a very strange and disturbing introspective sensation that I’m not real.
I told myself this is only the come down of the ecstasy and there is nothing to worry about, in a short time everything will be ok.
A week passed and I’m still disturbed by the sensation. I went to sleep over at some friends, they rolled a joint and we started smoking together.
After smoking in 20 mins in the middle of a conversation I suddenly started thinking very abstractly, instead of thinking in words I started thinking in pictures. Friends’ words became incomprehensible, and I knew that I’m going to have a panic attack.
For 5 hours straight I panicked, I felt like reality itself was being teared apart, and my sense of self was being teared apart, I was just searching deep inside me for an identity but I was lost, and I felt I’m dead. I started to attribute that to my indulgence in philosophy and my nihilistic philosophy, I felt like I have discovered something that I will never uncover again and I became mad and lost my mind.
How I lived with it:
I woke up the next day after I had struggled to sleep. Everything seemed strange, and while talking to people I felt extremely disconnected, and my dp/dr became a full blown disorder.
The comprehensive list of symptoms that I had:
- intense anxiety
- feeling that I have no self or I’m not real
- constant feeling of “jamais vu” ( situations and things that I’m familiar with seemed unfamiliar )
- feelings of automation and not controlling myself or my mental processes
- people’s behavior and mine felt animalistic
- my reflection in mirror became foreign to me
- people close to me seemed foreign
- out of body experiences
- constantly analyzing my behavior and mind
- existential hyper-awareness and obsession over my physical processes (breathing, bowel movement, etc.) and movement
- deep existential crisis
- visual symptoms as lagging vision (images lag in your mind after you see them) and others hard to describe
- nightmares and night terror
- fear of sleeping
- compulsive philosophical thinking and extreme skepticism about reality
- general feelings of unreality and dream like state
in the first week, I visited three psychiatrists, and I was almost convinced that what I’m experiencing is psychosis or the onset of schizophrenia. The psychiatrists didn’t help a lot as one of them told me that with my symptoms it is possible that I truly have schizophrenia, and that only fueled my anxiety.
I was searching for my symptoms online all the time and became addicted to this forum after I found it, and after reading stories of other sufferers here I was sure that I have dp/dr.
All my life became revolving around my disorder, every second of every minute of every hour I was absorbed by it, suffering because of it, thinking about it, and I became determined to recover.
I tried supplements like vitamin B complex and B12, 5HTP, I took st. John wort for a while.
Medications I had duloxetine and an anti-psychotic, and all with no improvement.
After the first 2 months the intensity of the anxiety started to diminish as I became familiar with dp/dr, even sometimes for 2 or 3 days I would simply forget that I have it, yet I was extremely unstable and susceptible to triggers.
Reading was a trigger as everything that evokes thinking about the general reality or society triggered dp/dr, on the other hand, I couldn’t stop it. I was obsessed with questions of philosophical nature such as, what is the nature of consciousness? if the physical body is something not separated from the physical world then why am I separately consciousness on me ? why am I me ?
Another obsession that was very distressing is the constant analyzing of my behavior. I was not in control of myself, I was only a spectator, and after every word, every movement of a muscle, every thought that passes my mind, I was asking the question, why do I feel the way that I feel or do what I do, not in human terms, but in the fundamental term, why love exists and what is it ? why fundamentally do we feel shy or angry? this made feel extremely animalistic, because fundamentally the only reason that we have our specific emotions is natural selection, for no sake at all only because it is possible to exist.
How I recovered:
Time basically. After a while of seeking a cure, I gave up. I had no other option but to live with it, accepting it.
I also realized that the philosophical obsession has a cure, because when I was dwelling on a question which is torturing me, eventually I will reach a certain conclusion.
I stopped trying to suppress the obsession and I went with it. Dp/dr changed me for better, it transformed my consciousness and understanding of myself and reality.
also, I found out about Alan watts and listened to every youtube video of him.
And on fractional very slow rate, I was improving. I would only notice that I’m improving when I’m totally relieved from a symptom. And gradually less and less I was visiting this forum. Until one day came and I realized that I don’t have dp/dr anymore.
I had it for 6 months, it was the strangest and hardest time of my life, but I don’t regret it.
For me it was not derealization, it was over-realization. The feelings of unreality were in fact touching reality for the first time.
You are going to get better believe me, your brain is just tired and it needs time to be relieved.
Ask him to explain his feelings and thoughts, talking about my dp helps me a lot sometimes. Stress and anxiety worsen the symptoms, so just make it clear that you are there for him. I myself if I found myself in such situation depending financially on my girlfriend, I would be very anxious about being a burden on her and therefore harming the relationship. Stress triggers so whatever can relief him from stress will help.
When you have severe dp, you would constantly absorbed in it, all the time thinking about it. it consumes your mind completely, so it helps to talk.
My girlfriend helped me by listening to me, she was with me in every step supporting me during the time when my symptoms were severe. I share with her the obsessive philosophical thoughts and we discuss them always and that helps me not to dig deeper into the obsession.
For the last couple of months I've been thinking about this, that we just have another a different state of consciousness that could be putting us closer to understand the universe and reality, but the society compells us to conform with its standards of behavior and normality.
For people who doesn't know who is alan watts, listen to him, he comforts me a lot.