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Hey everyone,

Just thinking about how symptoms in DP/DR develop and whether anyone can relate to my own experience..?

I've never been officially diagnosed but seem to be a dead-ringer for Derealisation.
For me, I can think back 15 years to when the first symptoms appeared and I've got a pretty good idea what started everything off-

When I was 11 years old, I suddenly began to entertain the thought that I might be dying of a teminal illness. I'd always been a deep thinker and due to some medical information I'd picked up wrongly, I began to be convinced that I was infact dying of this illness and only had years to live. It became an obssessive in my thought life and with it came a heavy amount of fear, hopelessness and anxiety. This must have been putting my young mind through a great deal of mental stress to ay the least.

The worst factor to this strange situation I found myself in was that I found myself unable to share with anyone these deep fears about my health which plagued my consciouness every single day. I was trapped- too afraid to actually tell anyone WHY I'd concluded I was terminally ill. I was sure anyone I told about it would instantly confirm my worst fears and this was my biggest fear of all- something I just couldn;t face hearing. So, I hid within myself. Just me and my 'dark secret', tormenting me on the inside every day, telling me I had no future- that I was going to die.

Because of the nature of my problem, I became hyper aware of the smallest ailment. The sight of a new freckle or mark on my body would scream confirmation to my young, naive mind that; 'yep- there it is- another symptom of the illness that's killing you'. Each time I found another ailment I would be filled with terror. I wanted to run away- I wanted to hide from this- I didn't want my 'reality' to be true - so, I hid from it. I resolved to try my best to IGNORE what I'd already accepted to be true about my body and just try and get on with my childhood years.

The first physical sympton that appeared strongly was a sense of lightheadedness and diziness. This seemed to come on stonger in sunlight. It also seemed to come on often in social situaions and especially if I tried to partake in anything active, such as sport. This symptom remains with me as a 26 year old (now long since convinced that I'm NOT actually dying of this terminal illness)This was when I was 11.

The first year also brought on another distressing symptom- fatigue. A constant sense that I just didn't have the energy I used to have. I still have this symptom 15 years on and it has progressed into a general tiredness that seems to always be there in the background.

As I remember, about a couple years into 'the fear', I developed the strange symptom that I now recognise as a trademark of Derealization. I remember sitting in my living room around Christmas time at the age of about 13 and looking around me at the walls, the carpet, the television set. Nothing seemed completely real. it seemed...artificial. As if I wasn't really there in my present environment- perhaps like there was a screen seperating me from the physical world around me. I remember this feeling being familiar- It reminded me of when I'd once stayed up an entire night at a sleep over and the next day I'd felt like I was really living out the next day. Like I could have done anything and it wouldn't have mattered, wouldn't have held consequence because I was, essentially, in a matrix like exsistence!

This was particularly disturbing as it first began to bed in and become my day to day experience. It became clear that this sensation wasn't something that was going to pass in a hurry- it stuck. Was my constant supressing of my percieved reality that I was dying also beginning to supress my actual reality- the world I perceived around me? Was the constant effort to seperate myself from the thought of death which had almost consumed my mind also cause me to seperate from everything? With what I know now about DR, it seems likely.

Having now lived from this strange, perspective for the last 15 years I have got so used to it that I tend not to think about it or even notice it as abnormal- it has after all been my constant experience for most of my life now. When I do step back and think about it though, as a 26 year old adult, the feeling is as intense as it's ever been- far more so even, I believe, than when it first appeared all those years ago.

But I want to go back to the time when this strange veil descended over me. There were other symptoms that came on and progressed from that point in my life that are still with me now. I remember before my perception shifted I'd began to notice strange changes in my vision which I naturally obssessed over. If I looked into the sky or at a bright surface I began to notice strange, cobweb like images floating around in my field of vision- as if they were moving upon the surface of my eyeball. Behind these strange floating images I also began to behold a sea of skating, darting dots that flashed back and forth, what seemed to be thousands of the things. As I obssessed more and more on these strange objects they became clearer and clearer and inescaple also- I got to the point where I could see them clearly and almost all the time. I didn;t know it as a 12 year old but these are, of course, 'floaters' and a condition also known as 'scheerer's phenomenon'- a condition which allows the sufferer to become visually aware of the white blood cells within their own eyes zooming around in their thousands.

A few years passed without anymore noted symptoms surfacing apart from the ones that I've previously mentioned. I did however develop an 'ectopic heartbeat' at this point but this would come and go and rarely bother me. When I hit 16 however, I had a highly notable experience - I finally managed to gather the courage to share my deep fear about me 'dying' with a two of my family members. This was a huge breakthrough. My mum and brother, when I explained to them just WHY I thought I was dying, instead of confirming my worst fears, told me I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Imagine a perecieved death sentence being lifted- an impending doom that had haunted you in the prison of your own mind, day and night for 5 straight childhood years, suddenly evaporating in the light of sweet, sweet truth! I wasn't dying! I'd been believing total bull for the last 5 years. It was like I'd been handed my entire life back. It felt euphoric and I gave praise to my God for bringing me out of that dungeon of despair!

The only problem was, it at this point in my life that I began to suffer another strange set of symptoms. It wasn't like before. Now I was free from constant worry and anxiety about death and illness. New ailments didn't threaten me like they used to- they just were what they were and I'd live with them or get better. Still, these symptoms were strong enough to have a notable effect on my everyday life. I describe the first of these symptoms to come on me after stepping out of my 'dungeon' as 'brainclamp'. It were as though a pressure had begun pressing down upon my head, at the back and round the sides. This pressure would seemingly get worse the more I thought about it and would be brought on worst of all through mental exurssion- such as a new discovery for me at the time- A-level mathematics! Brain clamp soon developed with it 'brain fog'. A feeling that my brain was cramped up and clouded all the time.

I'd always done well at school- always been in the top sets and got my 10 higher grades at GCSE without breaking too much of a sweat. When the pressure in my head came, this began to change. The most notable symptom that accompanied this pressure is the problem I struggle most with to this day. It is the one symptom that continues to intensify and causes my most trouble in my day to day life- the problem was with short term memory. As I've mentioned, I'd also been fairly bright. I'd always done well in school. But until the memory problems started, I hadn't realised just how much of this was dependent on having a sharp memory for details.

As my first A level year went on, I slowly began having problems recalling things which I'd never had problems recalling before. things like conversations I'd had the day before, meals I'd had the day before. Memorys started being jumbled- did I go to the cinema the day before yesterday, or the day before that. I look back at those thought processes now and think-'yikes! who cares if you can remember something so specific and insignificant? Most people wouldn't remember that kind of stuff!' And people would say that to me at the time. But the fact was simply this- I used to be able to before, and now I'm struggling to- now I can't.

As the years of sixth form went on, school subjects that I used to be on top of became all too much. I slipped from being an A student to being one who put forth all his energy and still ended up with a D. And some might say that was just due to the accademic jump, but I don't buy that. What I know is that I would go into a lesson and come out, desperately trying to keep hold of the information that I'd just heard. It was to the most part in vain. I simply didn;t have the recall ability that I used to. This told most strikingly in my final maths exam, in which, after revising solidly for, I achieved 19 out of 100.

Accedemia aside, the memory issues began eating more and more into my general and social life. Slowly, but surely, mental ability in this area of short term memory faded. Film plots began to become confusing to keep up with. trying to keep three to-do's in my head at once became too hard, then two to-do's was too much. Now I walk into a room on a daily basis to find I have totally forgotten what I went in for.

Names started to go. Meeting new people, names had never been an issue- now it's hard work. Now I forget names of people I've known for 20 years. Celebrities who I know the names of just wont come to me- like they're in my head but I just can't yank them to the surface. Words are daily on the tip of my tongue and I can't grasp them. English was always my finest subject- now even just chatting to my wife, my friends I stutter and stumble, fumbling for words, losing structure.

Now I have started to experience complete blanks- a totally new experience for me. This is where I will do something such as leave the house and have absolutely no recollection of whether or not I've locked it. This is five seconds later-by the time I get to my car. So I get out of the car, go back to the front door and check I've locked it. Invairably I have and yet I have no recollection of insertig the key and turning it i the lock. And this is a daily experience. Now that I see this kind of thing coming I can say to myself AS I lock the door 'you're locking the door, you're locking the door, you're locking the door!' and then I just about believe myself that I have infact locked the door by the time I sit down in my car.

I'm in and out of the house a lot due to the nature of my job and I leave the house practically every day with something I need. Something obvious like a laptop or book I'll be using.

When I slept round at my inlaws with my wifre a few weeks, on returning to our house, that first night back I woke up 4 or 5 times through the night and each time couldn't remember I was back in my own house. I remember a feeling of confusion on me. I sat and tried to even remember where our door is located in our room and couldn't work it out. We've lived here over a year.

I'm writing all this not to discourage anyone. Not to make anyone feel like there's no hope. I believe with Jesus there is a whole lot of hope and He has been my rock through the years. I simply share my story as in my human state, I feel like I could do with hearing some encouraging words from people who understand. Who are going through the same experiences and can relate. Who can tell me that I'm not actually losing my mind!

Thanks for reading, whoever you are- this has been a whopper of a write up so kudos to anyone who took the time to stay with it. Perhaps you yourself have seen parallels between your own story and mine

God bless

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