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Hi everyone, please read this post from start to finish in it's entirety; if you have drug-induced dpdr, and you read this all the way through, I honestly believe you have a 100% chance of recovery (or as close to 100% as humanly possible). It is widely accepted that dpdr is a defense-mechanism that the brain activates in response to trauma, so regardless of how you got dpdr, I believe this will still help. Note: I got mine from a panic attack while high on LSD and weed (which seem to be an extremely common triggers). Anyways, let's begin:

I just wanted to reach out and explain how I recovered before I move on with my life and 'never' look back. I put 'never' in quotations, because I fully plan to continue my life as usual for the next 5 years and not think about this ever again (or any differently than any life experience). At the same time, I have been accepted into medical school, and I am now considering doing my residency in psychiatry to help as many people as I can with this disorder, so maybe 'never' is too strong a word. Anyways..,

I'll start off by explaining the symptoms I had:

  • Extreme feelings of unreality of both things, strangers, people close to me
  • [Trigger Warning] Extreme, debilitating obsessions with Solipsism and BIV - Constant 24/7 (Under no circumstance should anyone with dpdr look up these terms). This was my worst symptom, I don't want to write about it because I don't want to trigger other people.
  • Episodes of Pure O thoughts on existence. Episodes for me were essentially characterized by frantic, racing obsessive thoughts about existential questions
  • Loss of motivation (was a 4.0 student at top 5 university, lost all motivation to even get out of bed)
  • Loss of purpose in life (when nothing felt real, what was the point?)
  • Loss of emotions (lost feelings of friendship with my friends)
  • 2D vision
  • Feeling like I'm stuck in first person view
  • Inability to take perspective (to imagine how someone else would see something)
  • Difficulty imagining things (when I imagined things/places/people, I would imagine/'see' them through a black haze if that makes sense)
  • Feeling like I'm just a mind/unfamiliarity with my body
  • Fear/belief I was going insane
  • Many, many more, but since my symptoms are completely gone, it is really hard to remember.

The 4-steps you need to recover:

I'm sure this is what everyone is most interested in. I've read a lot about the approaches people take to recover. A lot of people preach 'acceptance,' but I sort of disagree with this mentality. First of all, acceptance is waaaay easier said than done, and it honestly misleads people suffering from the most intense episodes of dpdr that they are doing something wrong. Honestly, if you get to the point where you can just 'accept' the disorder, you're probably like 80% cured already. When I was absolutely destroyed from dpdr, there was almost no way I could just accept it. Nonetheless, acceptance is important in a different sense that I will talk about later. Anyways, here are the four things you need to know to recover:

1. Understand DPDR and what is happening with your brain, and then realizing that you have no control

The scariest thing about dpdr actually comes from the fact that your rational-conscious mind is completely intact. While it may seem like a blessing, it sort of isn't. When your rational-conscious mind is intact, you have a false sense that you genuinely have control over the debilitating dpdr thoughts. You question your thoughts/feelings, since you know rationally what a normal person should think/feel.

While thinking/feeling both seem very much like active processes controlled by your rational-conscious mind, this is only partly true (you cannot deny that thinking/feeling are conscious processes that you are aware of). However, this is not the complete picture, and it is not at all what your brain is missing when it activates dpdr. When your brain switches into dpdr as a response to trauma, it deactivates the subconscious and emotional parts of your brain that deal with thought and feeling. Since your rational mind is still within your control, when these weird thoughts/feelings come back, you feel like 'hey, my rational mind is in my control, therefore I should have control of these thoughts/feelings too' and you start fighting these thoughts. The point is though that this is completely irrational. When you are dpdr'd, the subconscious and emotional parts of your brain behave abnormally to give you these thoughts. It is completely out of control of your rational mind. It's like asking a deaf person: 'your eyes are working fine, why aren't you hearing clearly?'

The subconscious/emotional brain under dpdr: But what exactly do I mean by your subconscious and emotional parts of the brain are shutdown/malfunctioning? When your brain activates dpdr, your brain inhibits the neurons responsible for making sense of intangible things. For example, you may feel the following:

  • difficulty feeling and understanding a sense of purpose in life (purpose is intangible)
  • difficulty feeling an emotional connection to your friends/family (friendship is intangible)
  • difficulty understanding the nature of consciousness, nature of reality (both of which are intangible)
  • while you can see things, you may have difficulty understanding what you're seeing beyond the simple fact that you are perceiving an image (intangible nature of space/mass, in some sense reality)
  • difficulty finding a sense of self (the ego is real but intangible)
  • A lot more (seriously, a LOT more, almost every symptom of dpdr I experienced fell under this category).

Now that your brain has activated dpdr and has inhibited your ability to make sense of intangible things, the question is what does this have to do with recovery. Well, there is good and bad news.

  • The bad news is: dpdr and the inability to make sense of things will feel like hell on earth for a while. It can literally feel like torture when it is at its worst.
  • The good news has two parts: 1) because it is not your conscious mind that is affected, recovery is in many ways out of your conscious control now, and there's really not much you need to do fully recover and never look back. 2) stressing is a part of your conscious mind, so in general you should avoid stress, but this is way easier said than done, which leads us to step 2.

2. Practice the Patient Recovery Process, and Understand the Awareness-DPDR relationship

Because recovery is mostly out of your control, the question is what are you supposed to do when these thoughts come in?

  • In the beginning, it will be very hard to just handle these thoughts/feelings, and you will likely be suffering quite a bit from this experience.
  • In the middle stages of recovery, the thoughts/feelings will be in the back of your head for a while and fluctuate significantly in intensity day-to-day.
  • In the later stages of recovery, you will feel a sense of confusion about the thoughts (the 'how did I feel like that?' feeling). Nonetheless, dpdr is an intense experience, and since it might be fresh on your mind, you're still a bit traumatized by the experience, so it takes some more time to just let go and move on.

One thing that is important to note that recovery should be examined over months (you only should compare yourself to how you felt a month ago to track your progress, since there is so much day-to-day fluctuation).

Anyways, as I was saying, there will definitely be days where these thoughts and feelings are really going to bother you, but then there will be days where it won't bother you as much. Regardless how intense the dpdr is on that day, if you remember it is out of your conscious control to have these thoughts, you are doing exactly what you need to recover. You are allowed to be bothered, you are allowed to feel angry, you are allowed to feel sad, you are allowed to accept, not accept, half accept, honestly whatever you want. It doesn't really matter, as long as you admit to yourself that these thoughts are not within your conscious control until your brain returns to normal.

This brings us to the ultimate point in recovery: patience. You just have to be patient and understand that recovery does take time. It is okay to have days where you are more bothered than others, and days where you feel worse than others. But if you remember that you're playing the waiting game for your brain to return to normal, and not any kind of fighting game (such as for your rational mind to defeat these irrational thoughts), your brain will deactivate the dpdr response more quickly.

To put it in steps:

  1. Either a) feeling of unreality
    feeling of depersonalization, c) existential thought or d) a mix of [a,b,c] enters your conscious mind
  2. Either distract yourself and ignore thoughts or confront thoughts head on, but ultimately remember your brain has deactivated your ability to make sense of things and you do not have rational and conscious control over the thoughts.
  3. Try to avoid feeling unnecessary stress over something outside of your control, but let yourself feel whatever emotions come to you - fear, anger, sadness, etc.
  4. Remember to be patient with your recovery, and that having these thoughts is completely natural and will not slow down recovery.
  5. Rinse and repeat

Awareness dpdr relationship: This is a critical side note I highly suggest people watch out for. The more intense your dpdr is over a period, the less general awareness you have of your thoughts/ how you feel. Your mind is sort of shocked, so you aren't really aware of precisely how you feel, you just know it's somewhere in the range of really damn bad and really really damn bad. As you start to improve, you will become more and more aware, and as you become more aware, you become more aware of the bad, which is a different feeling all together. Thus, you feel better from dpdr, but now you're scared of your more-conscious awareness of the dpdr, so you get stressed again. In short, how you feel is a function of the intensity of your dpdr, but also how aware you are of your dpdr. As your dpdr decreases, your general awareness (including awareness of dpdr can increase), which can be extremely scary. Thus, especially during the final stages of recovery:

1) you may feel terrible purely because of dpdr

2) you may feel better, but your level of awareness increases, and your new awareness of your dpdr is scary as hell so you feel terrible again

Ultimately, when you are feeling the second, all I can offer you is the reassurance that when your brain eventually deactivates dpdr completely, you will feel 100% (not 99%) better and completely recovered. So that little bit left shouldn't worry you (I think it is natural to worry that you've hit a plateau of improvement. There is no plateau, your brain will recover 100%).

3. You're safe

You're not going insane. Everyone who has dpdr thinks 'what if I'm the different case' or 'what if this symptom in specific isn't dpdr, even though all the rest of them are.' Trust me my man, it's all dpdr. You are safe, just be patient.

4. Why acceptance is important?

Acceptance is honestly for people in the middle-late stages of recovery, and it generally means carry on with your life even though you don't feel 100% better yet. The truth is, if your dpdr is really intense, you will feel terrible and you can't just accept it. It's too hard to accept something that debilitating, so acceptance doesn't really apply here. But acceptance does apply to the mid-late stages of recovery, and let me tell you why. 1) the goal is to be a normal person, so you actually have to act like a normal person and do stuff. 2) when you come out of dpdr, some people feel a bit depressed. To avoid this, it's good for you to carry on your life before you're fully personalized/realized again. That way, you come out of dpdr feeling 100%, and with a sense of who you are again. Hard to explain, but it is definitely important to carry on your life when you feel like you are ready to.

In conclusion:

Dpdr is an intense and debilitating experience that I would wish on nobody. Unfortunately, if you are reading this, you are probably going through the torture. The good news is, you are safe, and you will feel better. Just remember that it is okay to have bad days, and it is okay to have really bad days. It is not within your control, and eventually your brain will deactivate the dpdr response and you will feel 100% completely recovered, unable to feel that way even when you try.

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Wow, thank you for this.

This is unbelievably similar to my situation. I had LSD for the first time, was having a great time. Smoked some weed and pretty much had a traumatic event.

It's been about 2 months for me now, I would say I'm about 80-90% recovered. Is there anyway I could contact you to ask some brief questions? Maybe Steam or WhatsApp, or anything really. As I have a very similar case to you, I'd really like that.

Thank you.

Bansmax. :)

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Yeah, i agree. I read it a first time and thought it was interesting but maybe the poster was too sure of himself (sorry) and that it was not the 'cure'. Now that i read it a second time with a fresher look, it completly make sense ! I tried to be in control and it only got worse so the conclusion is really that i'm NOT in control, i have to be patient (frustrating and hard but necessary) and in time, with expressing the emotions that comes, it will get better. And finally, i can live this life...

So Thank you twang, your post is important
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