I havent been here long, I was consumed on an anxiety forum before I realized that a lot of those people dont have the demented and disturbing reality that I feel every day. So I found this site, and in the month that I've been here I've found relief in knowing that so many other people understand exactly what I'm going through. I've mostly stuck to the chat, along with obsessively reading the recovery stories. I thought its time for me to contribute for a change.
Dp isnt new to me. It was a year and a half ago when I had an insane panic attack at work (I'm a chef) and I suddenly felt unreal and disconnected from everything and everyone. I felt like I was in a daze for days, like I was daydreaming but I was awake. I felt blank, invisable, and empty. I was even told by my Executive chef that when he looked at me it was as if I was looking straight through him. I couldn't connect with anyone and I didnt understand. That was a year and a half ago, which now seems like a lifetime has passed since then. I quit that job not only because I was afraid of having a panic attack while working, but because in all honesty it was the worst job I ever had..ever. I was always ridiculed in front of my peers, always made out to be a fool and was told repeatedly that I was nothing. Needless to say, it was the stress of the job that brought on the wave of panic and anxiety, and eventually DP.
I've had anxiety since I was 16. Well, panic attaks at least. I would gladly take what I was going through then versus what I've been going through the past 6 months. It wasn't until I moved almost 4 hours away from home to a big city, and I'm a small town girl, that I really understood what anxiety and DP felt like. There were literally less than 100 people in my graduating class, so you can say I had no idea what the hell to expect when I moved out of state after college.
Anyway, 6 months ago I was at work (a new job that I had been at for a year after my terribly rotten first job in the city) and I was breaking down boxes of all things. I wasn't even doing anything exciting, when everything suddenly felt foreign and unreal. It freaked me out so bad that I couldn't stop thinking about it, to the point where that was all I could think about. Every second of my life was consumed by this strange feeling that I felt at work that day and eventually I became so obsessed with it that I couldn't figure out how to get rid of it. I thought I had triggered something in my brain. An overload of stress from taking on a highly stressful position that I was not qualified for. It was just anxiety I thought, but I knew anxiety. It would go away soon and I could get back to living my life. But no. I developed DP.
October of 2014 was the worst month of my life. I was so overpowered by this feeling that I didn't have a name for that all I could do was cry. All of the time. At work, I'd go to the bathroom every hour and cry, and pray, but mostly cry. I was seeing the world from a different perspective, like I was living my life on auto-pilot for 23 years and suddenly I came to the realization that I was a living, aware being. Hyper aware is what I referred to it as. I remember staring at the dumpster when I was on my smoke break, trying to convince myself that it was real. But I didn't believe it. I mean, I knew it WAS real, but I just couldn't completely accept the fact that what I was feeling was a normal thing. I believed every insignificant thought that entered my mind. I gave meaning to those thoughts and made them out to be important when in fact they were rubbish that I was giving unneeded attention to.
So I sought the help of a therapist. I'm still not sure if it was the therapist that got me through those bad months or if I was just so determined to feel normal again that I figured out the "secret" to living again. But I was progressing. Some days I could even walk from my session to the train without an anxious moment. Of course once I got on the train I was back at square one, but it was something. I read books, joined forums, told the world what I was going through so I didn't feel like I needed to hide it. And you know what? That was my start to recovery.
This DP has been the biggest up and down affair that I've ever experienced in my life. I felt horrible for 2 months, then I felt like I could manage it, then the holidays came and I felt horrible again, then the holidays were over and I thought I could make a recovery. This hasn't been a straight line of progression AT ALL. I was determined though, to not let it take over my life. I put myself in a mindset that would allow me to recover while still having DP and anxiety. I read some amazing books that would uplift my spirits every time I had a moment to read. At Last a Life, and From Panic to Power were what got me on the road to recovery without a doubt. Those books were able to ease my mind a little at a time and they were my go to everytime I felt anxious and DP'd. Those little moments of hope added up and gave my brain some time to process the fact that I was going to be okay. And that IS a fact. We are all going to be okay.
In the past 2 months I haven't felt nearly as hopeless as I did the first 2 months. I haven't been drowning in DP thoughts and little by little I've been able to take a break from caring about how I was feeling. I had myself convinced that I was never going to shake this unreal feeling even though I hoped I would. But hoping isn't enough. I hope to be able to pay my bills, but they don't pay themselves. I have to work for it. Same goes for recovery. You have to really want it. I mean, stop telling yourself that theres something wrong with you. Stop using DP as a way to get out of things that make you uncomfortable. Does DP hurt? Not physically. Does it make you act out in an embarressing way? Probably not. Have you gone crazy yet? No. So why aren't you living. Why are you giving so much respect to something that does nothing for you. All of that brain power could be used to make your life better. To make you a happier person. To bring you joy where you once felt nothing.
This is the kind of thinking that has brought me to 80% recovery. I say I'm at 80% because of the fact that I still think about it every day, but I'm not obsessed to the point of a mental breakdown anymore. I live my life, even the uncomfortable parts. At 100% recovery I won't even care enough about it to go to therapy or take xanax on occasion. The first 60% is the hardest, but once you start you won't be able to stop. Recovery is addicting. I'm always challenging myself to recover a little more. When I'm on the train where I always felt the most anxious, I force myself to feel DP. And I sit with it until I don't care about it anymore. I've learned to stop fearing this feeling, because its silly.
I am who I've always been, Marjorie. My brain isn't broken, I'm not going crazy and I certainly won't feel like this forever. The difference now is that I genuinely believe that. The last 20% is going to be cake compared to what I've been through.