I created a blog well over 6 weeks ago to describe my symptoms and strategies I've used to help me recover and heal. My symptoms are on this blog as well as my thoughts on the healing process. Below is a link to my blog and my most recent post:
One of the major problems I have encountered since experiencing the symptoms related to DP/DR has been a feeling of detachment to myself and my environment. When I say detachment I usually mean that I have difficulty conceptualizing what exactly it is that I am. I wonder if I am just the matter of which I'm made. When I feel detached from myself I feel disconnected from my memories and the person that I was several months ago. As far the feeling of detachment from my environment I think it can be best characterized by obsessive thoughts about the nature of the matter that is around me. I get very caught up in the visual experience and wonder what makes something something. At times objects and people seem like props in a play. At times I wonder what makes others human. I start to wonder what we should actually concern ourselves as. In addition, I see my existence as nothing more than shuffling from the kitchen to eat, then to the bathroom, and then to work and back.
However, thanks to the work I have done these feelings are significantly less pronounced and I am bothered less by the feelings that I do have. I am fortunate enough to be able to appreciate life more and more each day. I don't obsess over the existential thoughts that filled my life since January 2013.
From this position of relative clarity and feelings of hope, I have come to notice something about myself and the symptoms of DP/DR. Absolutely nothing has changed. All of the laws of the universe remain the same. I can rely on the building I work at to be there tomorrow. My partner will have the same voice, the same smile, and the same gait tomorrow than she did when we met several years ago. As I have said in past posts, the only thing that has changed has been the way I view, think of, and experience reality. Thinking of reality in the way that I did since January has been incredibly painful at times and mostly uncomfortable. I have struggled with ways to manage my symptoms and have lost hope at times. Yet, here I am today. Not only am I here to write this post, but I am writing it from a much better place than I was even a week ago. I am fully convinced that DP/DR is a necessary part of my life journey whether or not I recognize it as such or like it. The important thing to remember is that our discomfort is proof that we exist. Our discomfort proves that we are who we always were. We could not think and feel without being who we were before the onset of the symptoms. We can read and write and think because everything in our past was real and happened to us. Perhaps even more important than this is to accept the fact that we can not know the answer to these existential questions. I often said to my therapist during the past months that in the past I would have said who gives a sh*% about what the nature of my existence is? In the past I would have said to let some scholar think about who am I and what am I. My journey is leading me back toward that mindset however I will have the bonus of having contemplated these questions. The point is that all of this obsession on questions I could not possibly answer took away from my quality of life. Yes, the observable world is fascinating. Yes, the whole thought of existence can be perplexing and at times scary, but we don't have to let it ruin our lives. Think of it this way: if you don't like horror movies you probably won't go see the next Saw movie. Why because you know you won't enjoy it and it will only be unsettling. We can do the same thing with our thoughts. Obsessing over the new way you or I see the world with DP/DR is not enjoyable and definitely does not serve us. And the best thing about our thoughts is that we control them. This is scientifically true. We control our thoughts and as a result our experiences. The problem for most people with or without DP/DR manifests itself in the fact that we spend our whole lives being pessimistic and feeding negative thoughts. We literally make ourselves miserable. I doubt that practiced optimists experience symptoms of DP/DR and if they do the symptoms likely don't bother these people as much.
We cannot understand every little detail of our existence. But we can enjoy it and we can certainly learn from the often unbearable pain and discomfort of DP/DR. We have to get comfortable with not knowing. We have to get comfortable with our fear and vulnerability. Fear feeds this condition and in essence these symptoms are fear. DP/DR is the manifestation of fight or flight mechanisms all of the time. We exacerbate the symptoms by the thought processes that feed fear. The symptoms may stay the same for a while, but we have total control of how we deal with them. We are in the driver's seat. We are in control. And we can heal and live a life of happiness and appreciation of all of these things that we don't understand. I don't know how to make lasagna the way my aunt does, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying it. Even if I searched the internet for years I would never be able to find the recipe that was lost in a fire. This is exactly what the case is with DP/DR. Maybe we can't understand how we got to be who we are. Maybe we have no clue what we are. Maybe the world and our environment seems strange and foreign. But just like my aunt's lasagna, all of our not knowing about life does not have to stop us from enjoying it. Get comfortable with not knowing. Try moving towards acceptance and away from resistance because this commitment has certainly helped me.