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Note: I don't think I have depersonalization disorder, but I do probably have some PTSD and social anxiety.

I've had two or three episodes of depersonalization over the past few years, one a number of years ago and the other two last week and yesterday. I feel like I've already got another episode coming on as I think of what happened yesterday (I will describe it below, see bolded paragraph).

They all happened when people pile a lot of irrelevant crap on me and/ or try to dictate to me what I should feel.

So my question is whether people trying to erase your personal perspective and experience can lead to depersonalisation? Has anyone experienced that?

I'll explain the details below, but it's a long and convoluted story, so feel free to skip it.

1. The first episode I had was a few years ago when my husband was worried about some everyday stuff (don't remember what). He asked me what to do and I tried to calm him down. I told him a solution and thought the problem was solved. But he kept pursuing it for days and kept ignoring whatever I said to him. I don't focus on everyday stuff because it's not a problem for me, I can handle most every day matters quite well in my own way, but he tends to fret until he wears himself out. Finally, I had this 'fit' where I felt I'm not even a real person anymore because nothing I say matters at all.
This happens quite a lot when he tries to impose his own routine and way of living on me. E.g. we share some hobbies, but have a different way of approaching them. For example, I used to enjoy swimming and I did endurance/ long distance. He joined me because he likes swimming, too. But over the years, he completely destroyed my enjoyment of my hobby, because he only wants to stay at the pool for a limited amount of time so he can go home and wash the dishes. Over the years, the simple matter of going to the pool and just swimming has turned into a battle without any escape and we hardly ever go. Recently I explained to him again that I need to do long distance because it's something I enjoy (he thinks it's something that is too difficult for me or just completely ignores that that's what I want to do). For the first time in years, he said he can accept it and he just never understood it (so on the bright side, he's willing to acknowledge my wishes now, but on the downside he ignored this for years and the usual pattern is that he never remembers anything I tell him about myself for long than a few weeks). (By the way, my husband is a very sweet guy, but he keeps thinking I'm a helpless little girl who needs to be mothered in everyday life, when in reality, I'm very capable.).

2. A week ago we went on holiday to our home country because my husband wanted to go (he was homesick). I'm currently reconnecting with an old friend who lives there. So we thought I'd also phone this old friend because he had made noises about meeting up. For me, the main reason to go on holiday was so that my husband can have a good time. I thought I'd just try to catch hold of my friend on the phone and see what he says. But my husband turned this into an all-or-nothing thing about my friend. The thing with my friend is that he's got a very pragmatic and impersonal way of looking at things and is very spontaneous. E.g. when he says "I'm busy and there's nothing you or I can do about it now", that means "I want to but I can't because of circumstances." Other people tend to think that means "I don't want to.", but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because I'm used to how he thinks. On the whole, we've always both been practical about meeting up and there is no personal rejection involved, it's purely about whether we have time or not.
So he'll say he wants to meet up, but expects me to chase him. I only go along with that up to a point. If he can't tell me anything definite after two rounds of negotiations, I'll give it a rest and do the other things I had planned. After I phoned my friend and he wasn't in, I thought I'll leave it alone for this time and we'll just speak on the phone and see how it goes. My husband thought I'd phone my friend every day and his holiday would be spoiled, but I wasn't going to phone him every day because that's dumb. It's exactly what I did last time we were on holiday there. I phoned him on the day he said I should phone him, but he was busier than he had expected before (he works and has many other obligations). He suggested I could try again the next day and we'd see whether he has time, but I thought I don't want to distract him from his work again and I've got other plans myself, too.
Now my husband tried to turn this into an all-or-nothing scenario, shouting that this is my friend's last chance and he'll batter my friend in the street if he doesn't show up (my friend happened to be out when I phoned him).
The thing about my friend is that he's always been like this and it doesn't mean anything. He does have PTSD and a dismissive avoidant attachment style. He does tend to be evasive and distrustful when it comes to interacting with people, but I can normally tell the difference between him being evasive and genuinely busy. So I try to be patient with him and try to have realistic expectations.
We lost touch for 15 years because of other things going on in our lives, but we never actually fell out or anything. So when I first phoned him, I was just trying to see how it goes and wasn't expecting much. I basically just want to have a little chat. I was very pleasantly surprised because he has become a lot more easy-going and expressive. On the whole (when he isn't being suspicious/ dismissive), he's very enthusiastic about me phoning him and he said he's happy and enjoys it (that's not something he would ever have said 15 years ago). We've also still got the same bond we've always had. So, yes, he can be difficult and reassuring him takes some effort. This does make me a bit anxious *before* I phone him, but once I've got him on the phone, I know exactly how to talk to him and I enjoy it and there's always a pleasant surprise in store for both of us. I don't actually care that much about whether we'll be able to meet up soon/ ever, because talking to him is enough for me. I just go with the flow with my friend and don't have any concrete expectations, because that's what we've always done and it works fine for us. But both my husband and another friend (my spiritual teacher) are pushing for an all-or-nothing solution. My husband wants to think that I'm a poor baby and my friend is messing me about (he does try sometimes, but I don't go for the bait and eventually we figure out something that suits us both). My spiritual teacher thinks that talking to my friend isn't enough and that my friend being amiable isn't worth anything. (The reason I consulted my spiritual teacher is because my friend and me had some miscommunication in the past, which led to drama. Now I think we are more mature and can take it easy and my friend likes that idea. I think it will take some effort and we will never completely resolve our miscommunications, but we don't need to because it's normal that two adults have their own way of looking at the world. We're a lot better at understanding each other than before and that's all that counts). My spiritual teacher thinks it's generally better to meditate on people's energy than to actually be in touch with them in real life. He might be right in some ways, but I don't see why I shouldn't do both.
I am well aware that my friend's dismissive tendencies can f*ck things up, but he's one of the few people in the world I can have a "normal" conversation with. Most of my other friends overthink everything, can't deal with things in real time ... E.g. it's very difficult to just talk about what you've been up to etc., it takes them a lot *longer* than my friend to open up, they are painfully shy and don't understand what is happening when someone is friendly to them ..... I like them for who they are, but I also like this friend for who he is and that's all anyone can do. I don't understand why it should be an either/ or situation.

So right now, I feel there is a lot more pressure from my husband an my spiritual teacher than from the friend whom they perceive to be the problem. I'm trying to be realistic and they are all pushing for a huge drama. It's like they're all trying to solve a terrible problem when I don't even see a problem.

So I finally got really angry (rather than fearfully anxious) and started ranting at my husband because he said it's my friend's last chance and he'll batter him in the street.
I felt like I had no memories at all and no future and nothing is real. Normally, when I have a panic attack, I have palpitations, but this was different. My heart was fine, but I felt like my brain was wiped and I had no life left in me (no memories, personal story, hope, feelings, no future at all). I wasn't even sad or angry about that. It was just an irrefutable fact that I can do absolutely nothing about. I felt like nothing about my life is real at all. I could not visualize myself going to work again after the holidays, doing my hobbies, living with my husband ... At the same time, I couldn't even imagine 'doing nothing', sleeping etc .... I tried to think of some simple steps that might restore my health, but nothing at all came to mind. I just felt I have never had any life and I will never do anything again. I couldn't remember any simple things that I like doing or understand why anyone does anything. Then my body gave up as well and I could hardly walk or control my legs. First my hands went cold and my whole body felt icy, although my husband said my skin is warm.

3. Some more background:
When I was younger, my mother (who has a personality disorder) prevented me from making friends, having hobbies etc. She would invade my space and throw my things away. On the one hand, she totally overprotected me and isolated me from other people. On the other hand, she abused me as a carer for her mental health problems. All I was allowed to do all day was listen to her tragic stories of victimhood (she does not take any responsibility for her own life). She also physically battered me when she was angry at my father. She abuses him psychologically, but she wouldn't dare hit him because he's stronger than her. So she'd go for me instead, claiming that I was exactly like him. She even called me his name sometimes. Basically, I was not allowed to speak at all or to express myself in any other way.
I did have friends when I was a kid, but many of them just wanted me to be 'nothing' so that they can drag me around to do the things they like to do. I'm not in touch with my parents or those friends anymore because they constantly devalue anything I do (and my mother continued to physically attack me when I was in my 20s). Those friends are all 'nice' people (emotional etc) who think they have 'good' intentions and want to 'help' me. The only practical and badass friends I had where a girl from primary school and the friend I'm reconnecting with now. They are not 'saints' or without their own quirks, but I know how to handle them.

I have since found my own friends and I interact with them in my own way. But right now it feels like I have to constantly make a huge effort to assert myself against people and it's just turning into a huge struggle without much of a reward. I just want to be 'alright' and get on with life, whereas everybody else has perfectionist expectations in one way or another and piles more and more pressure on me... It's like the simplest things have become so convoluted that there is no way out at all.
 

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There is certainly a whole a branch of thinking that dissociation is caused by what is sometimes called emotional abuse, and with that comes many factors like control, intimidation, invalidation etc. It doesn't leave much room for us, so we do the only thing left - dissociate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There is certainly a whole a branch of thinking that dissociation is caused by what is sometimes called emotional abuse, and with that comes many factors like control, intimidation, invalidation etc. It doesn't leave much room for us, so we do the only thing left - dissociate.
Thanks for your reply.

There is certainly a lot of control and invalidation issues involved here on all fronts.

My friend whom I'm reconnecting with is a control freak and he always 'tests' people due to his dismissive avoidant attachment style. He does tire me unduly sometimes. But I feel that I can reassert myself against him fairly easily because he doesn't take it personally when I fire back. E.g. I'm not competitive but he is. So he always thinks I'm not doing well. But when I tell him about my successes, he shuts up (if I was actually out to compete with him, I could easily beat him in some respects, but he would win in others.). But despite this tendency, I don't think he's the main problem here because it's a back-and-forth between us. He knows when he's overdone it and regrets his behaviour. He will never be able to completely control himself, but we adapt to each other well. He also amuses me and fusses with me in a way that isn't too intrusive. We can also have a laugh and have normal conversation.

The people in my home country (parents, some friends, former bosses, father-in-law) tend to be overprotective. They seek paradise on earth and even though they don't have it themselves, they require my husband and me to live in paradise. They see everything in very black and white terms. They think that their life is glorious (it isn't because they told me all about their problems when I was younger) and they want me to have exactly the same life as them. When I emigrated, they got insanely upset and thought I'm here on holiday and having the time of my life and abandoning them. When I told them something negative to show I don't live in paradise, they swung the other way, thinking everything is terrible and I'm hopelessly stupid etc. I was not able to say that life is alright, because they were always pushing for something more extreme (very positive or very negative).
Some of them got over that phase, some just couldn't at all (my old friend might be at that stage at the moment, but we don't know yet whether he'll get used to the situation or not). They just want me to stay around and be there for them without them doing anything for me. So the resentment just builds up in me. Right now, this isn't actually relevant, but it's all spilling out because I've kept it in for too long.

It's probably best not to think about it at all and mind my own business.
 

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I think understanding that you're not responsible for other people's behaviour is a healthy thing.

Your friend sounds capricious, but may be the only one you've described who is letting you be you! I had a friend like that :)
 

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I certainly think it can be an important factor. I mean of course you feel alienated when no one listens to you or nobody shares our view, at which point your psyche has to choose between being an outsider or being a fake shell of a person, both crappy options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I certainly think it can be an important factor. I mean of course you feel alienated when no one listens to you or nobody shares our view, at which point your psyche has to choose between being an outsider or being a fake shell of a person, both crappy options.
Thanks for your reply.

I hope I won't have another episode like this any time soon. I don't envy anyone who suffers from this 24/7 :(
 

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Reading your first and last paragraphs I felt I could totally relate. My father is a control freak. I'm pretty sure he has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. In fact, I'm positive. He would never go to a psychiatrist or psychologist to get diagnosed and thinks he can control any problems he has by his own will (go figure), but he's so rigid and narcissistic I've found even in the last few years I've dissociated being around him because he only views me as a pawn to control his job rather than an actual person. I've gotten so frustrated with him that I literally shut down and haven't even talked to him when we were living in the same house. That said, I think the genesis of our issues comes from childhood and then is brought out in adulthood under various stressful circumstances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think understanding that you're not responsible for other people's behaviour is a healthy thing.

Your friend sounds capricious, but may be the only one you've described who is letting you be you! I had a friend like that :)
I definitely feel that out of the people I knew back then, he was the only one who let me be me as long as I asserted myself. He's no angel, but he's actually on his best behaviour with me from what I hear. I'll just have to see how things go with him.
My husband is doing his bit to stop oppressing me (and it's not his fault he doesn't get me easily because our minds work in very different ways, but he needs to accept that and ask me more questions instead of imposing his way of thinking on me).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Reading your first and last paragraphs I felt I could totally relate. My father is a control freak. I'm pretty sure he has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. In fact, I'm positive. He would never go to a psychiatrist or psychologist to get diagnosed and thinks he can control any problems he has by his own will (go figure), but he's so rigid and narcissistic I've found even in the last few years I've dissociated being around him because he only views me as a pawn to control his job rather than an actual person. I've gotten so frustrated with him that I literally shut down and haven't even talked to him when we were living in the same house. That said, I think the genesis of our issues comes from childhood and then is brought out in adulthood under various stressful circumstances.
Thanks for your reply. Hope your father is more manageable now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would say so, yes. My DP started several years ago when I was living with my dad and he wasn't allowing food in the house. I told my mother about this (parents are divorced) and she acted like I was crazy/making it up. I would scream at them and it was like talking to brick walls. I felt like no one (including friends) understood what I was going through, like no one ever really HEARD me. Eventually I DP'd. I think I have remained DP'd over the last many years because of the relationships I've been in. I keep dating people who are like my parents, in that I always felt like they couldn't really hear me/get me, for whatever reason. I'm hoping now that I've removed all of these people from my life, that I can start to fill my life with people who really HEAR ME, and that this will eventually make the DP start to fade away...
Thanks for your reply.
That's weird of your mother not to believe you. After all, if your parents are divorced, she must have had her own problems with your father.
Hope you'll find some understanding friends.
 
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