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yea this is getting hard for me to deal with. im only 15. y now do i have to deal with this? its just really hard. lately i have been worrying about well what if i become bipolar or schizophrenic or blah blah blah..... and i dont know what i would do if i did end up with more things to deal with. like i said i can only handle so much??? well does anybody ever worry about getting other problems like that??? i really appreciate any replies.
 

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Hi T,

It was in some ways a relief to me to find that not only was I not unique, but, in this community, with most of these kinds of feelings, I am stereotypical, the same as everybody else. And with the kinds of fears you are talking about, you are too.

So many of us have had the exact same fears that you have, and none of us have become schizophrenic or anything like that. Schizophrenia is just a metaphor for us. That is, a schizophrenic relates only to his or her internal world, and not to the real world. This is how we have felt as well. The difference, and it is a huge difference, is this. We maintain "reality testing;" we know what the real world is but we have just, sometimes, felt as if we were cut off. This, again, is part of the definition of depersonalization.

TwinkzD, you are so young. You can be hopeful.

I recently told a psychiatrist that he needs to find out about depersonalization because some very young people are going to wander some day into his office and he will have the opportunity to improve the significance of someone?s life, and that I would think that for a doctor, this would be extremely satisfying.

If he had asked me what he should do if this happens, which he didn't, I would have told him this:

FIRST: Doctor, you need to take this seriously. You will be able to see right away what this young person can't, that he or she is not "crazy," not schizophrenic, and does not have any major or horrible mental illness like this. But this doesn't mean that it is not urgent. And just having the young person talk about how he or she feels is probably not going to be enough, even though this might be helpful. Also, jumping right into the standard stuff: prescribing an anti depressant and having them come back in a month, then another, then trying another anti-D, then etc., is probably not going to be enough either.

INSTEAD (I would tell the doctor) quickly identify any symptoms other than this thinking thinking thinking. Symptoms like nervousness while speaking (in class for example) or performing (playing an instrument or singing for example), or being outside, or being afraid of things or people, or feeling connected to friends or family, or whatever. Some of these are not the main complaint, but these are a way to approach and treat this complaint. I think one thing to do is hammer at these things with behaviorism. This means to get the young person to continue to do these things, slowly at first, many many times, until he or she gets better at them.

For example, when I was very young I suddenly was not very good at doing simple things like reading out loud in class. I would get so nervous and anxious and I would shake and my voice would quiver and my heart would pound. This was so embarrassing for me because these kinds of things had always been so easy and enjoyable before. What a doctor could have done for me was to make me read to him, a little, or read into a tape recorder, or read to a small group, or volunteer to read books or newspapers to older or disabled people, or whatever. To read read read out loud, to one, then two, then more, in any situation that could be invented or discovered. This would have been much more helpful to me than talking about how if felt to me to be afraid of reading.

Of course you don't need a doctor or a counselor to do this for you, once you understand the concept.

It is like training a dog. Repeat repeat repeat, without any anger or any expectations. "Dog sit" (gently, and every time get dogs butt on floor) "Good dog," (give dog a pat, a smile, a cookie, while not letting him get up.) "Oops" (gently return dog to original position if he gets away from you) "Good dog" (only sit for a second or two at the start, then increase the time slowly.") "OK" (enthusiastically release the dog, play a little, smile, pet, cookie, etc.) Do this a few times and that's it. Then do it a few times later, then later, then tomorrow, then tomorrow. After many times you will have a dog that loves to sit, to stay, to down, and who will be very sold at this.

AND (Doctor,) make sure the young person understands that he or she has a condition that makes it essential that he or she takes NO RECREATIONAL DRUGS EVER. If the person has done this in the past that is OK, but they can not do it any more. One might see one?s friends smoking a little pot, or taking something else, and having a lot of fun and connecting socially, even sexually, and that it looks like a harmless way to enjoy things. It might be like this for some of these friends, but not for you. This is probably a physical, more than "mental," fact of your existence. These drugs, for someone beginning to have DP, are POISON.

I believe for someone as young as you that there are many large and long-lasting windows of opportunity. It is very good that your anxiety is improving, as this makes it a lot easier to stay focused outward. Sometimes it is hard to understand what this even means, focusing outward. But many people here will advise this, and it is very good advice. STAY CLOSE to any people who might love you, any family, any little kids. Be kind and helpful and not ashamed, no matter what you think or how you feel.

You are probably very intelligent. This is always good, but with DP, in some ways, it can be kind of a burden. We think think think so much, sometimes really interesting things.

But I think that DP can function at a pretty basic level of human behavior and experience, at the basic level that helps all mammals function in the ways that distinguish them from, for example, reptiles. A lot of this takes place in the Limbic System of the brain; a very old part of the brain. Dogs have Limbic systems and they take care of their young, are social, have affection, love to play, etc. This is what makes them, and us, different from lizards, who do none of these things.

And at this level every thought counts. The Limbic system is not very smart, and we can trick it into ignoring what is important and to react to things that are not important. With DP, thinking negative things, or thinking just about one's self could be substantially worse than these kinds of thoughts are for other people. We need to think of other people, to practice compassion, to practice and to train ourselves to continue to keep our attention outward.

Boy T, I wanted to just say a few words but got carried away. Some of this stuff is kind of speculating--the behaviorism stuff--but I think most of it is pretty solid, and I know it can't hurt. I really hope I can be a little helpful. Please take care and please pay attention to the world around you. You are not crazy.

Peter.
 
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