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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi people.

The summer of 2012 I smoked marijuana/ weed (or whatever it's called) a few times as a teenager. My brain was never the same again.

I experienced what I could describe as full blown depersonalization and derealization. It was scary! I had extreme dissociative symtpoms. Not long after, the infamous insane DP/DR related thoughts appeared and accompanied the dissociative symptoms. I thought I was going insane, no joke.

And since then, I have had various mental problematic. It feels like a shape shifting negative mental illness that can take on the form of DP/DR, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, daydreaming and OCD.
I have had periods with extreme mental rituals and silly mind games, and periods with extreme DP/DR. And some periods with anxiety.

Right now I'm suffering with intrusive thoughts. It feels like my brain is throwing horrible thoughts at me, and I can't make it stop. Also, I have a tendency to daydream and let my mind wander.

I could say I have had 3 periods with extreme DP/DR. And maybe some short episodes in addition to those. But using drugs in 2012, I have had mental problems in various forms.

I used to argue for the trauma explanation for this mental condition, but who knows.. it starter after using drugs..
I have never been diagnosed with DDD, but are you really surprised? It's not exactly a famous and well known disorder. Neither have I been diagnosed with OCD, I have hid that from therapists due to shame and embarrassment.
I actually don't know if I'm diagnosed with any mental disorder at all, how does one know? I can't recall receiving a piece of paper with a list of disorders.

I have had mental problems prior to the drug use. I used to be extremely shy, and had quite an imagination. I have also suspected some personality disorder, maybe borderline/ histrionic, but I'm no doctor.

I have an account on here made in 2012, but I didn't even attempt to reuse that for now, I was 17, guys.

So please share, people! Any one feel like they have like a shape shifting mental illness taking on various forms?
 

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Hey Thomas,

I think that, if you sensed that there was trauma behind your condition, you should explore the options for trauma therapy of DPDR/dissociation.

I can identify with a lot of what you said, except drugs, I didn't use them. But drugs have been known to act as a trigger for mental health problems, which does not mean necessarily that they caused it. Especially with trauma and dissociation, we repress a lot, from memories to emotions, and drugs can certainly bring forward some issues that were hidden.

I would say that you figured a lot of things out on your own. I know it is difficult to be open in therapy. What was crucial for me in embracing the radical honesty and radical acceptance in the approach to my therapy, was the seriousness of my condition at one point. I just thought to myself: is this shame and embarasasment that I feel about sharing my thoughts and feelings stronger than my wish to get better? Because I could not imagine getting out of that state on my own, without a professional help.

Thomas, and anyone else reading: when you feel tormented, seek help. But be informed and specific about the help that you look for. Not every therapist is the same. Find a person with recommendations, who knows a lot about the problems that you have, but also trust your own judgement, if that person feels like someone you can work with, and ultimatly trust in the long term.

Take care, and never give up fighting!

A.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply, Anna!

I'm not in therapy anymore. I'm not as broken as I was during the first months, as you may imagine. I'm not sure about therapy, maybe some day.

What's your story? If you don't mind sharing? Or if you already have, please provide a link. Or just some short version if you're busy.
 

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Hey Thomas,

I don't mind sharing, I did actually share here before, but I think it is not updated, so I will write a shorter version here, even though it may not seem short at all, lol…

So, at the end of 2016 I was a 40-year-old woman, good at her work, with PhD, one would call me successful, a bit of a workaholic. That is when DPDR, as in Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder hit me, along with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, somatization, it was a horror. It took me half a year of CBT and Zoloft, I cleared out some symptoms, and I dived into more projects, doing two of the largest projects that I ever did in my line of work at the same time. Pure distraction.

Time goes by, I still feel the anxiety, and panic attacks start. Also some kind of obsessions, which all makes sense now, as my mind was trying to distract me in that way as well. By the end of 2018, and after a considerable change in weight (as I oriented towards a healthier eating), as well as some crucial changes in relations with my family, that resulted in moving from one apartment to another - a lot of things were going on at the same time - I started being triggered by my own appearance and my reflection in the mirror, and I am having some sort of pain seizures whenever I find myself in the apartment that we bought. It turns out the apartment is in the vicinity (like 50m from) of my old kindergarten.

The change in my appearance, and the shrinking of my body, as the vicinity of this place from the past, kept throwing me into some sort of a complete confusion, causing panic attacks. I go back to the same CBT therapist, end of 2018, and he already knows what I am dealing with, but he will not say it, as the client has to come to terms with such disturbing memories on their own. And very soon the trauma comes out. A lot of my memory is covered by dissociative amnesia, so that is another dx I get. I mention to my T that I was self-hurting when I was a teen, I remember being anxious and OCD kid, painfully shy, with a lot of problems in school (daydreaming and dissociating to the point of not being able to follow the classes) and socialization in general. I mean, I knew that, but at the same time I have forgotten it, or perhaps I never wanted to talk about it… It is difficult to explain. Basically, I always wanted to present myself as not having any problems, and everything that didn't fit that image, I just put away somewhere…

So, by the summer of 2019, my T says, now you know what the trauma was (an ongoing CSA for most of my childhood), and soon he lets me go. I think he made an estimate that he did what he could, from his domain. But the thing is, he opened the deep well of traumatic memories, and I had no tools to regulate myself. I had attachment issues, which is expected, and the disorganized attachment didn't equip me to deal with emotions. I was drowning. So, I kept feeling worse and worse, and the identity confusion sets in. It was beyond tormenting, and at the same time, I managed somehow to maintain the façade of normalcy, but it was becoming increasingly hard to do it. I joined a lot of forums at the beginning of 2020, as I felt the need to find people who could understand at least some of the things I have been going through. I managed to get out of a deep DPDR in April 2020 on my own, but then things with traumatic memories and flashbacks became worse. I would find myself weeping under the bed, trying to squeeze myself between the bed and the floor, not realizing that I am going through a flashback, and that I am not a small child any more.

Finally, after reading everything there was about DPDR, dissociation, trauma, you name it (I think I read more than 100 books in total), I realized that only trauma therapy can get me out of where I found myself completely stuck. I found a good EMDR therapist in October 2020, and have been in therapy since. It was a visible improvement all along, with only one setback, when I got to one particularly bad patch of memories. But then I managed to work through that as well.

I know that dissociation is part of me, it is literally like an immune response in me. It is such a strong coping mechanism, that I cannot prevent it from taking over, when I am in a stressful situation. I will always be dealing with it, but at the same time, I managed to integrate some parts of traumatic memories that were just too overwhelming for me to process at the time they were happening. They were bothering me as a splinter that keeps infecting the tissue around it, and I was spending a lot of my energy just on coping with that.

If you are coping with trauma-induced dissociation, I want to say that healing from trauma is possible. I am stable now, but perhaps I will need help again in the future. There is nothing wrong in seeking help. Do whatever you need to do to get better. The field of neuroscience is advancing, as are other sciences, including the field of psychiatry and psychology. EMDR and somatic experiencing seem to work for this kind of problems. Don't get discouraged if things don't go smoothly…it all takes a lot of work and dedication, but it is worth it! It goes for other kinds of mental health problems - if it is mentionable, it is manageable; find someone to talk about it. And also, find what works for you. And above all, and that is something I picked up from some people here, sometimes all that we need is a bit of compassion, and trust me, trauma therapy and any other form of healing is not possible without forming some kind of compassionate bond to another human being/s, and without some sense of belonging…

Cheers,

A.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for sharing!

Strange condition, isn't it? It's good you're doing better. I myself have went to trauma focused therapy. Not EMDR though.
I remember the old days on this site, confused and dissociated as a teenager.. «just forget about it" was one of the main strategies for folks on here back then. Well that didn't bring my brain back to normal. it's healthy to try and get your mind of it, as I have done, but it feels like my brain just finds other things to obsess and philosophise about haha.. it's like my brain is in a higher stress level after 2012 and I have just gotten used to it..

I'm not tormented with for example derealization nearly as much as in 2012, but my brain still isn't the same since.. things look relatively normal to me, I feel like myself, but it feels like my brain is hyper active. Quick to daydream and obsess
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Actually, about the “forget about it” strategy. I take that back. Because I didn’t really try to forget about it once it hit me. haha.. but how could I? I was in panic back then.. maybe it works for some
 

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It is a strange condition indeed:)

I think there are different reasons as to why someone gets DP/DRd. It can obviously be from trauma and manifest as dissociation, from neurological problems, from having some other conditions, where DP is one of the symptoms, etc. But one explanation that is widely present online is that it is all down to anxiety, and if you only "man up" and ignore it, it will go away. I think this is a very damaging concept, if it is to be understood as a model for recovery. If there is one thing I was good at for decades, it was ignoring my problems, and investing a lot of energy into achieving things that are already difficult, and for me they were hundred times more difficult than for some other people, as I was never anxiety-free. Every communication, every task was nerve-wrecking, and I would put myself into situations that are already anxiety-inducing for most people, as leading projects, talking publicly, in front of cameras, in lectures, etc. It is great to be a fighter, most people I met here are fierce fighters...But when put like that, anxiety seems almost to be our own fault, while it obviously is not. There is always a reason behind it. Having said that, I also believe it is important to maintain some schedule to our life, and to try not to isolate, and to keep oursleves healthy and with good habits. This body is all we have, so eating healthy, walking a bit daily or exercising, occupying ourselves with things that are not only DP-related is important...

Did you feel that trauma therapy helped you in any way? I would also suggest that - when it comes to trauma - sometimes a person is not ready to process some things at a particular moment. You have seen from my post that I had been going back to therapy several times, and finally found a more suitable model. But nobody likes therapy, I think. Every time when I knew I have to go back, it was because I knew I have a problem I cannot solve on my own, and I hated being in such a position. It is bad enough admitting that there is a problem...again...lol...but it is what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I don't think DDD is an anxiety disorder like GAD for example.. There's often anxiety Involved, but if you ask me, DDD is way more extreme than general anxiety disorder.

If Trauma therapy helped me, I don't know to what degree. It was calming to chat to a therapist for sure, but if it did any repairing in the brain, I don't know.. however I didn't go for a very long time, and quit therapy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I remember the DSM classified the disorder as dissociative disorder, and the ICD in some other category. But I think the new ICD-11 will have it moved to dissociative, is that correct?
 

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Yeah, I agree about the anxiety. When I went to EMDR the first time, I said to my T is that even though I have the GAD as a dx, I do not think that my problem is anxiety, but trauma, as I am triggered all the time. Trauma can explain a lot of things that otherwise seemed unconnected.

You are right about DSM-V, but I wouldn't know about ICD. I should look that up, lol

I was always confused about how rarely people online link DPDR to the spectrum of dissociative disorders...But then, all of us may be talking about different things, and unless someone is actually diagnozed with Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder, the reasons for detachment and the subjective sense of depersonalization can be different, I guess.

However, it would be reasonable to think that the presence of DPDR (as a dx) in a person is a strong indicator of past trauma.
 
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