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Hello, I'm Angie, 39, from Oxford UK, and I am back in the deep DR hole again. I haven't really been here for 4 years.....in the depths of despair, terror, panic. And I haven't visited any web sites in all that time, although I was around and about when Andy used to run a discussion forum. I have one friend on here ( you know who you are..) who I have stayed in touch with, for years. I think/hope I have been a support for him, during my strong DR-free years. However, here I am again, feeling like I am going mad, that I am going to die, and I am back at that terrible state of not being able to leave the house.
When I am "normal", I think people see me as a happy, confident, sometimes crazy person. I like to make people laugh. I am happily married (13 years), have 2 daughters aged 4 and 5, work fulltime as a primary school teacher. I had lots of emotional upheavals through childhood, and have always had anxieties for as long as I can remember. The DR started when I was in my early teens- brief episodes lasting a couple of minutes, several times a year. Ten years on I experienced one which I didnt come back out of.......for months. It was like a switch was stuck in my brain. Those were the worst days of my life, until a psychologist came to my house and told me that what I was suffering from had a name-depersonalisation. I took antidepressants for months, but they didnt help- I believe it was the sheer passage of time, the break from work, and just getting used to being in that state that made the fog lift....so slowly that I didn't really notice.
That was 12 years ago. Since then, I have had odd days here and there where I have felt weird, and several real DR lows, where I have to stop work, as I am too scared to leave the house. My GP (doctor) came to visit me this week, and I am awaiting a visit from a member of the community mental health team. I will not take any medication, as I truly believe this is about being strong-minded. Some of you might not agree, but then all our DP/DR experiences are different. I find that when I am "normal" if I think about DR, I can make it come back, momentarily, but if I refocus on something else it goes away.
I cannot do that today. I have passed the point of no return. I do not feel real, I do not exist, there are no such things as humans, the world, the universe, this is all a dream. When I stand in my garden the wind on my face feels different from how it used to, plants don't look the same and the lawn seems so busy. In autumn when I am in this state, it hurts my head to look at all of the fallen leaves and crowded places panic me...all those people. I cannot cope with lots of visual stimulation.
This episode hit me a couple of weeks ago. I was in my classroom talking to a colleague and suddenly "wham", it hit me. She noticed. I nearly collapsed but held onto a cupboard. My world no longer existed. I fought the feeling for 2 days, by keeping busy, so as not to focus on it. Day 3 came and I had a massive panic attack in the car on the way to school. The DR had smothered me. I was so scared that I would crash the car, that I would not be able to find my way home....home?? what was that?? My husband had to come and escort me back- I drove behind him. When I got home I felt safe, calm, relaxed; the DR lifted I returned to school in the afternoon. Since then, I have been on holiday. A break from school, but not relaxing; my husband (who normally stays at home with the children) has been working; I have had lots of school work to do (record keeping, planning etc), I have had family to stay, and of course my girls are around demanding attention in a variety of ways. Three days ago, still feeling fine, I went to drop some stuff off at school. When I got to the part of the journey where I had had the panic attack, the week before, it happened again- that proves something. I was thinking about the DR and it came back.....fulltime, 100%, 24/7.
I came home- can't remember how I managed to drive- automatic pilot I guess. I tried to drive to school again that evening, to prove i could do it. The panic and terror set in even sooner on the journey and I came home defeated.
My computer was being fixed so I had no helpline here, which added to the panic, desperation, terror. Now, I feel a weight has been lifted. I have been signed off work for as long as I need, have the support of my headteacher and colleagues, and most importantly a very strong husband, but of course none of them know exactly what this nightmare is like- that's where you come in!!!
For me, the DR seems to be brought on my stress, anxiety and exhaustion. I am in teacher-mode from 8am til 6 pm (no, it isn't a 9 til 3 job, our work doesnt stop when the children go home), then I come home and become Mum for an hour or so, have some dinner and do more school work until bedtime. Weekends i try to spend as much time with my kids, but there is still so much school stuff piling up. I would love to work part time- it might be a possibility ( or even necessity), in the future, but not just yet. In the past 6 months my mother has had a heart attack and surgery, and is now a new woman; my brother is going through a nasty marriage breakdown, my husband and I had a "domestic" after he had had a drinking session, but that has been resolved and we have turned a new corner. Nothing, therefore that has been a MAJOR trauma, but still I have managed to slide into the black hole.
I feel stronger this time. Although extremely disappointed as I believed I was emotionally strong enough to eradicate it from my life forever, I know I will get through this and recover. This time, I am not resigned to my bed for days on end. I do not cry about it like i used too. I do not feel suicidal anymore. I believe the DR is part of me, but i can fight it. I believe it is my brain's way of telling me to stop, that I can't carry on my life at 100mph, that I need to switch off for a bit and recharge my batteries. At present I find it hard to walk 100 metres from my house without feeling an overwhelming terror. I feel totally safe in my home. I keep active with reading, doing crosswords (reinforces I am not going insane), playing with my girls (boardgames, painting, playdough...just like being at school!), talking to friends and family on the phone......I just have no confidence when I leave the house. My husband has offered to take me out in the car when I am ready, but I don't feel able to yet.
For me, part of the healing process involves talking about it. Family try to understand and support me emotionally. My husband is an absolute rock, who tells me all the things i need to hear, like i am not going mad, that i will get through this, that I am stronger than I have ever been, that one day I will get rid of it for good. I have the support of friends- friends who have seen me at my lowest and reassure me that I will get through it, and a relatively new friend, who spent hours on the internet yesterday finding out about DP/DR, so she can understand my plight better- that is a true friend.
Don't I appear strong?? I am trying my best to be, but I have moments when I falter, when I want to cry and shut myself away, when I wish there was an on/off switch to get me out of unreality state. Can any of you relate to the stress/exhaustion bit I have been talking about? How do you cope with it?? And does anyone ever feel effected by the weather. When I am at rock bottom with the DR, like now, sunshine starts to lift me, but those grey, overcast days, where the clouds are especially low, really bring me down, and make my DR more prominent in my head...........it was one of those days when the DR first kicked in this time. Do any of you have that overwhelming fear of leaving the house and not being able to get home?
All I need are people to talk to, to listen, to advise, to share hopes and fears. I am coping as best I can, but I still need help. Can you assist, please?
Thank you for reading this, and getting to the end!!
Angie
 

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i'm glad you have such a strong support system! in my opinion that is the most important thing when trying to get through this. just remember that if you beat it once, you can beat it again...until that point, just lean on the people you love.
 

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Lately it has been sunny here and it does lift my mood. I keep having the same feelings... I am not really me.. i verify my identiy by listing off names and phone numbers of friends and family. I just don't feel like the guy I was... the one I want to be again... I understand this is all in my mind.. but man if I could just feel normal again. Not like I might vanish any minute. I haven't vanished yet... so Why the fear? I look at my wedding ring, I just keep assuring myself that this is all real, even though I don't feel real, or feel like my self. You're right when it is cloudy it is so much worse.

I am trying any and all things to get back to normal.. Medicine hasn't helped. It is hard to to think about it , I sometimes obsess. I thank God for this site where at least there are others to take comfort in. I hope you get to feeling better soon.... I am routing you on and you do the same for me.... God bless!
 

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hi

quite a high percentage of teachers have some kind of 'breakdown' due to the intense nature of the job. i know at least 3 personally who have carried on seemingly fine in the job but one morning have just not been able to go in. you need to rest and try to relax as much as you can. it seems like you've got school and the doc on your side so take your time. if you don't feel like going back full time in a few months then don't. when you start feeling better you can possibly jobshare,supply, tutor or teach small numbers of 'socially difficult' primary kids who have been excluded. i'm sorry you're having to deal with this but it sounds to me like you've been burning yourself out and you have to have a rest and recover. time heals and also healthy alternatives to drugs are:

5htp or st johns wort
vit b complex
green juice (organic if possible as other leafy veg has alot of chemicals on it)
omega oils (rather than fish oils i think the bottles of oil blends you can get in health shops fridges are better. put a little in after you have cooked something)

take care of yourself
 

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hi. you sound like you've been going a hundred miles an hour. I have done the same with the same result. I was performing in a circus show and trying to run buisness full time. Now have been in in dp for 7weeks and counting. I am also struggling to go out of the house. I think for me that i developed agrophobia as a secondary condition-that it is an avoidence strategy that becomes learned behaviour(as it is reinforced everytime you leave by the decrease in the unpleasant sensations). I also find that when you have panic on top of dp it is crushing. I'v been keeping a journal rating the levels of dp,dr, do-disorientation and panic and find even when my dp is high if my panic is low i can actually function. So trying to seperate the two has been my goal and trying not to panic when i dp ect. I also get the part of feeling like you won't be able to find your way home as this is a major part of my dp and i think also of the agorphobia. I think we expect to much of ourselves sometimes. We get lost within the chaos.It sounds like you have some wonderfull supportive people around you and are in the process of recieving some good help.
 
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