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DP/DR since 20 years : some specific questions

680 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  AnnaGiulia

Sorry for my english, I'm a French.

I'm 35 years man with a "normal" life (wife, kid, friends, good job and situation) but I'm dealing with DP/DR since 20 years now.

I use to read this forum since a long time now and it helps me a lot to find answers in my own investingations and comprehesion of this syndrome.

But I never took time to subscribe and introduce myself.

I live in France, and my first "traumatic" DP/DR experience appened in 1999, during a night smoking weed with my teenage friends.

I precise "traumatic" because after 20 years of therapy and questionning, I remember now having some similar experiences when I was much younger, but I wasn't afraid about it.

It would be very long to describe my whole story, reflection etc ... To be syntehetic :

- my "problem" and concerns with DP/DR started as a panic attack when I was smoking a join. I wasn't a big smoker and it certainly was a "overdose". I can read a lot of stories here that describe exactly what I felt this night and the days after

- the effects since that moment, my life alternate between moments where I can nearly forget about all that stuff, feel myself and have a "normal life", and periods where I'm over-ruminating about this, feel full-force DP/DR, have panic attacks, and it clearly disabling

- I discovered the "depersonnalization" and "derealization" words about 5 years after

- the alternance beetwen those "cycles" can last weeks to years

- I had a difficult famliy condition in the past, in the middle of a very traumtic divorce beetwen my parents which affected me a lot. My condition is clearly related to this event (and not only the join I smoked 20 years ago)

- I'm seeing theraptists since the begining and it helps me a lot. I take some SRRis antidepressant since 10 years now and it also help me a lot (not directly for the DP/DR symptoms, but for the fears and for the happiness, and "give up" attitude toward this syndrome)

- After a lot of research, the best description of the kind of DP/DR i'm suffering from is called "Phobic Anxiety Depersonnalization" (cf Daphne SIMEONE book)

As I mentionned, it would be too long to describe everything, and a bit pointless. I can say that I recognise mysel in a lot of symptoms and story I can read here, and I'm understanding more and more this condition. What I read recently changed my approach : in my case, the TOC approach of this syndrome looks like a key.

For me, the best way to fight against those obsessive thoughts is always to read some stories, explanations, theories about DP/DR, because it gives me a way to reduce the fear of thoses symptoms. Understanding how it works put me back into a "normal person" : I constantly need to know that I'm not alone, I'm not going crayzy, a lot of people describe the same thing that I'm living and they don't look mad ... and they are not dead :)

But it's always a challenge : when I find a story or explanation, it break the cycle for a while (sometimes for years). But each time it come back, new questions comes again, and sometings same question that I already answered in the pasts ...

So, in all the forums and articles I read across the net, I still need to find people that feel those particular symptoms/feelings.

Could you please tell me if you feel the same (or comparable) thing .. or just comment :

- my biggest problem with DP/DR is the cycling questionning about it and the fear that it could come back ... and this fear and rumination makes me feel and maintain all the symptoms. BUT : I sometimes experience crisis, exactly like the one I lived 20 years ago. It happens sometimes when I'm very drunk or very tired ... often both (of course I don't smoke neither take any drug). This is how it happens :

I'm happy and celebrating with friends, drunk a lot of alcool. Suddenly, everything stop : I'm looking at my surrounding in a different way. At this time I know it's coming and it's difficult to avoid. The fear is coming too ... and it's too late : I feel like I'm just awaking from a dream. All that party/situation was just a dream ... from this moment I feel like all my life was just a dream before, as if I was constantly sleeping and living in my head but now it's very real. AND it's not a dream, all of this is true, I am really here, alive.

It's exactly like the "Quantum Leap" serie (Code Quantum in French) : I'm awakening in a life, in a body, in a context that is very new, as a new born. I know this is me and my life, but I feel like a stanger to it, like me in another body and another life, like that serie where the guy wake up every day in the body of another person. Except I didnt' forgoet any memorie, I still have 100% of my memories and I can be exactly the same ... just playning the role of me.

Despite the force of this crisis, I dont' loose my head and I can still do as if I was normal, that everything is OK. Sometimes I'm also able to continue partying ... but completely frigthened because it's too late, everything has changed. The days after, I feel the "true" DP/DR symptoms a lot, a completely different feeling of the world I'm living, and my life. After a few days I'm not in the crisis anymore, but all the existentials questions are back, with the unability to feel things, to be connected to me, to my life, to my past etc ...

--> please ... can someone tell me that he feel the same pattern? Especially the "I'm awakening and I thought I was dreaming before. OMG everything is true, this is real life". It's difficul to find people that describes symptomes like that and it would be very reconforting to know that I'm not the only one ... and this IS a DP/DR symptom.

Another thing I'd link to have some comments :

Even after big crisis (but it's more accentued with crises), I feel like I'm a different person after a "peak" of DP/DR. If I going too far in the questionning, the fear and the symptoms of DP/DR, the day after I feel like I'm new, like I lost myself. It's a bit like what's happening during crisis, but in a recurring way : I'm clearly the same, acting like yeasterday, but all my surronding and my memories feel as it wasn't mine. And it's very difficult to live with that, that's the worst symptom I'm facing. How can I feel joy, confort, reassurance or any positive feeling, being "in my home" nowhere because evertyhing is new. Like a amnesiac except I remember everything. I'm affread of loosing myself, and every memories I can think about, it's only nostalgy because I'm not the same anymore. And I can stop myslef to think about the "previous" me, as a living and feeling me.

--> On this point, could you please tell me if you feel something like that

Thanx a lot for reading, and hope, your answers
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I did not see the tv show that you reference in your post, but I can identify with waking up in a context that seems new to you. For more than a year now, I usually wake up not really knowing where and who I am, and I kind of build myself anew every day. Some days it is less obvious, and I can slip into "my shoes" more easily, but some days I completely feel as a new person who found herself in the body of this particular adult, who she does not recognize as herself. I cannot tell you if that is only DPDR, or something else. So far I have been diagnosed with DPDR and Dissociative amnesia, but I do not have amnesia for everything in my life, just things that are triggering, so it is not as if I forget everything from one day to another. It is more that it takes me some time in the morning to connect to myself and my mindset, as I am emotionally disconnected.

And I also get some kind of panicky feeling about the passing of time, because I sometimes feel as if I just woke up and realized that this is the real life, and somehow I was not aware of that for the last forty years. As if I were in a dream, and now I wake up to some new reality? I think it is similar to what you said. I am afraid that different forms of dissociation, and not just DPDR, kept me from feeling much of the feelings that "normally" emotionally attuned people do. I think there is something wrong with my mind on the line between experiencing something cognitively and emotionally, and I feel as if I wasted much of my life not really feeling the feelings that I was meant to. I know it is not my fault, but the result of a coping mechanism that saved me from even worse impact of trauma when I was very young, but it is still very unsettling...

Hope you will find more answers along with you healing,


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