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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is going to be a really disjointed post- bare with me. I’m going to summarise my experience briefly. It all began 6 years ago. I was 18, first year at uni and was loving it but normal stresses of living in new area and exams, new relationships etc. I often smoked weed but this time was different. It sent me into panic and of course DR for about 5 weeks. I quickly knew what it was (thanks google) but funny enough this forum scared the shit of me that it was a life sentence. Which it kinda was in a way. After the initial episode things got better and DR came a background noise. At stressful times or overstimulating environments, sometimes hungover, it would come stay for a few minutes/ hours- maybe a few days sometimes- but I could always manage it. There could be months I’d go without an episode. Only a few occasions in the last few years did it bother me. And so life went on. Fast forward to this time last year. I’m 24, working as a underground geologist. I do week on week off, 80 hours in one week and including night shift. I’ve brought a house with my long term boyfriend. I had been struggling with obsessive thoughts on and off about my breathing and general low mood and anxiety at times but all and all life wasn’t too bad. Then I get diagnosed with alopecia. My hair is falling out and this sends me into a terrible depression. It raises every single insecurity I’ve ever had about myself. My self worth has always largely been based on my physical appearance (tragic I know) so I found myself in a serious hole. I was depressed and anxious but at this stage hadn’t had any episodes of DR for probably 2 years (maybe few very minor ones). My depression caused major issues in my relationship and long story short I ended it and bought him out of the house. Fast forward to 6 months later I’m with someone I met from work, the relationship is very serious already. I’m not as depressed but I have low mood and insecurities and generally unhappy with life for some unknown reason. I start questioning my new relationship and start having conflicting thoughts about my ex. I have a massive mortgage which is half my salary and I’m also doing it up.. it’s a 1928 villa. I’m stressed about money, the house, my relationship, my hair and struggling with getting a routine on days off. I wasn’t working out or eating very well. I start having episodes again. Not too intense or long but it starts to bother me. Come New Years and I’m at a festival with my partner and friends. Trying to “act happy” I was sober in the crowd watching an act and then suddenly it hit me. Full blown DR. Just as intense as the very first time 6 years ago. I forgot how truly earth shattering it was. Panic set in. Me and partner drove home that night and unfortunately it remained for about 5-6weeks. I had to take time of work it was terrible but slowly I came right again through just getting on with life. This is the annoying part is that I felt like my body was telling me stop!! Enough is enough. So I promised I’d change my ways even after I got better. Shocker I didn’t !!! I came back to reality and returned to the same life style. Toxic thoughts about my self, though happy in my relationship now I still had doubts, and I could feel anxiety creeping up on me about finances, the renos etc. Ate poorly again, little exercise. So I had about 2 months of relief and then slowly the minor episodes reappeared. The problem is that now it was bringing on panic because of what I experienced 2 months earlier. I couldn’t just accept the feelings like I could in the past because I know now that these awful episodes didn’t have to be drug induced anymore which was always my safety blanket. Most of the episodes were at work. And then I got covid and the full blown DR comes back wooo !! So here I am now. It’s week 7 - the absolute longest episode yet. I am trying to keep my cool but I’m fucking terrified. Being on break I can manage but my working weeks it’s absolute torture. I wonder if the nature of my job is adding to my mental health, the 12 hour days, 80 hour working weeks and the no routine on days off. Oh and the joys of night shift and working in a literal dirty hole. I think everyday about quitting but how can I? I get paid very well and there are no other jobs in my field where I live that will remotely match my salary which I need if I want to keep my house- which by the way its a terrible time to sell. But that’s not even the worse part- the worst part is that I’m terrified that this is it. That I had my 6 years of almost normalcy and now this is my life. It will be chronic DR or a constant cycle of debilitating episodes. That will be harder and harder to come out of due to the fear. These 7 weeks of hell and no improvement and this time just getting on with life isn't doing it. I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I think my DR comes down to a few big factors:

  1. My bodies natural way to cope is through DR. My dad died when I was 3 and I had a vacant mentally unwell mother. I believe this greatly affected my resiliency and the ability to cope. Although weed triggered this I suspect it would have happened at some stage regardless. DP/DR is a coping mechanism due to overwhelm. I resonate with the freeze response theory and that I have a dysregulated nervous system due to trauma.
  2. I have really obsessive/ ruminating thoughts at times. Sometimes harmless other times not. In the past I've been obsessed over my breathing, how I can see my noes in my vision, my appearance and now DR! Which as we know perpetuates the issue. I believe prolonged DP/DR is a form of OCD.
  3. Strong emotion and anxiety feeds it and induces it. I have big issues with regulating my emotions (thanks trauma) which my body sees as a threat. Threat = freeze response = DP/DR.
  4. I have deep rooted insecurities and a pessimistic view on life- I think most sufferers can relate to this one. I think it really fuels the fire because we find it hard to stay positive and see a way out. Sometimes I get shitty thoughts like a deserve this somehow.

So I guess my question is does anyone struggle with episodic/ cyclic DR ? if so how do you manage bad relapses? Can I ever get rid of this for good ? Or can I even get back to how I was before where minor episodes didn’t bother me. Any ideas on what the F#$% is wrong with me lol ?

In terms of what I’m doing I’ve brought every book under the sun about trauma and related dissociation. I’m seeing a trauma informed therapist and working through trying mindfulness and somatic practices regularly. I’m pushing myself to do everything no matter how much it sucks. Work, social events, working out you name it I’m doing it. Trying to eat better but depression because of DR kicking my ass and I have no apatite. 8 kgs down in 6 months not good. I need to address the obsessive thoughts part and the fear of the DR which I think is sustaining this episode. I've heard ACT therapy is excellent for this. I’ve also started sertraline and vitamins which may at least help my depressing thoughts. Apologies for the rant any thoughts!!




 

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You weren’t kidding, that was a disjointed post!

Welcome to adulthood, my friend. Of course, you definitely do have much on your plate. Some of your issues are more typical life choices (stay at my stressful but well paying job that is my career that I worked for? Or get a new job, lower pay and not in my field, but perhaps I could relax and sleep at night?). Speaking with a therapist could be helpful with some of those issues, maybe (in my experience, most therapists have not been all that good).

But something else about your post I think merits some discussion. When we are struggling with life, especially with an issue like DPDR, there is a powerful desire to explain why we are struggling. And the greater the struggle, the more profound and deep-rooted its source must be. Sometimes the goal of this soul-searching is productive; knowing the source of the problem might be the key to finding a permanent solution. But solutions only exist for math problems and (some) medical problems. Some of us might have a medical problem for which there may or may not be a solution. But the problem that most of us are dealing with is existence, and existence does not have solutions, we just have to cope with it as best we can. Your post is all over the place going from your present condition, to worrying about your future state, to questioning the occupational and romantic choices you have made, to looking at your past experiences through the lens of this or that psychological theory, to seeking answers in diet and exercise, somatic and other therapies, etc. I get it, I do this a lot too. And I can tell you, it hasn’t made me any better, lol. It can certainly be cathartic to just get all of your thoughts out in writing, disjointed though they may be. But if you are genuinely searching for a “solution,” you are unlikely to find it.

You have some difficult life decisions in front of you at the moment it seems. Directing your attention to your relationship, work and finances might be the best way to cope with this, as long as you aren’t too disabled by your condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You weren’t kidding, that was a disjointed post!

Welcome to adulthood, my friend. Of course, you definitely do have much on your plate. Some of your issues are more typical life choices (stay at my stressful but well paying job that is my career that I worked for? Or get a new job, lower pay and not in my field, but perhaps I could relax and sleep at night?). Speaking with a therapist could be helpful with some of those issues, maybe (in my experience, most therapists have not been all that good).

But something else about your post I think merits some discussion. When we are struggling with life, especially with an issue like DPDR, there is a powerful desire to explain why we are struggling. And the greater the struggle, the more profound and deep-rooted its source must be. Sometimes the goal of this soul-searching is productive; knowing the source of the problem might be the key to finding a permanent solution. But solutions only exist for math problems and (some) medical problems. Some of us might have a medical problem for which there may or may not be a solution. But the problem that most of us are dealing with is existence, and existence does not have solutions, we just have to cope with it as best we can. Your post is all over the place going from your present condition, to worrying about your future state, to questioning the occupational and romantic choices you have made, to looking at your past experiences through the lens of this or that psychological theory, to seeking answers in diet and exercise, somatic and other therapies, etc. I get it, I do this a lot too. And I can tell you, it hasn’t made me any better, lol. It can certainly be cathartic to just get all of your thoughts out in writing, disjointed though they may be. But if you are genuinely searching for a “solution,” you are unlikely to find it.

You have some difficult life decisions in front of you at the moment it seems. Directing your attention to your relationship, work and finances might be the best way to cope with this, as long as you aren’t too disabled by your condition.
I appreciate the response but I really don't agree with it. I truly believe most of not all people have the potential to recover, or at least find peace with the condition and therefore find a solution. To suggest otherwise is pretty shitty considering its probably the biggest fear for all of us. If you don't believe in a solution then there absolutely wont be one for you. For me I know I do have one and now its just trial and error. I also know how uncomfortable it can be to exists at times, like right now. But I also know what its like to simply exist comfortably- there doesn't always have to be a greater meaning of life. The human body is programmed to heal, and I will hold onto that hope despite my fears.
 

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I appreciate the response but I really don't agree with it. I truly believe most of not all people have the potential to recover, or at least find peace with the condition and therefore find a solution. To suggest otherwise is pretty shitty considering its probably the biggest fear for all of us. If you don't believe in a solution then there absolutely wont be one for you. For me I know I do have one and now its just trial and error. I also know how uncomfortable it can be to exists at times, like right now. But I also know what its like to simply exist comfortably- there doesn't always have to be a greater meaning of life. The human body is programmed to heal, and I will hold onto that hope despite my fears.
I think you may have misinterpreted my response, perhaps because I wasn’t exactly clear in what I was trying to say. I was not suggesting this condition is hopeless, or that there is no way to recover. And I certainly wasn’t suggesting that everyone who has this must remain in misery and agony forever and ever.

What I was suggesting is that, when it comes to “mind” problems, it can often be counterproductive to continue focusing on the problem, trying to identify the cause and/or the solution. It’s kind of like how if I say to you “don’t think of a pink elephant,” you WILL start thinking of a pink elephant. Similarly, it may be the case that if you spend your days constantly seeking a solution to DP, analyzing “it” and reinterpreting your entire life through the prism of “it,” then “it” will stay with you. Am I certain about this? Not at all. Perhaps it is a structural issue, at least for some of us. In that case, figuring out what that issue is and what therapies/supplements/activities are likely to improve it is perfectly reasonable.

I have not been able to find an answer to my own problem, though I have observed that distraction and comforting social interactions can make it moderately better sometimes. Perusing through the “recovery” section of this forum, you will notice a consistent refrain: don’t think about DP, get away from these forums, stop trying to “solve” it and get back into life and don’t look back. Sometimes these posts are smug and claim this is THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER THAT WILL CURE US ALL, which of course pisses off those of us for whom that has not worked. But I do think that advice has the greatest success rate. And I haven’t heard of many cases where a materialist approach was completely curative.

The concept of “mind,” as it was understood by philosophers before neuroscientists reified it, essentially refers to the directional locus of our attention. If I’m at a crowded restaurant with many people talking around me, if I am focused and engaged with the conversation of my entourage, I will experience their voices with greater intensity and clarity than all the other sounds going on around me. If I’m in physical pain and I focus my attention on it, I will experience that pain with greater intensity and clarity; focusing my attention on other things helps reduce the experience of pain. If I’m focused on my own thinking, I will experience my internal monologue with exceptional intensity, and external reality itself will feel hazy and distant. It stands to reason that DPDR, in many cases, operates in a similar way.

Long story short, i was merely offering a suggestion on how to interpret this experience, not saying that you are stuck like this for life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I think you may have misinterpreted my response, perhaps because I wasn’t exactly clear in what I was trying to say. I was not suggesting this condition is hopeless, or that there is no way to recover. And I certainly wasn’t suggesting that everyone who has this must remain in misery and agony forever and ever.

What I was suggesting is that, when it comes to “mind” problems, it can often be counterproductive to continue focusing on the problem, trying to identify the cause and/or the solution. It’s kind of like how if I say to you “don’t think of a pink elephant,” you WILL start thinking of a pink elephant. Similarly, it may be the case that if you spend your days constantly seeking a solution to DP, analyzing “it” and reinterpreting your entire life through the prism of “it,” then “it” will stay with you. Am I certain about this? Not at all. Perhaps it is a structural issue, at least for some of us. In that case, figuring out what that issue is and what therapies/supplements/activities are likely to improve it is perfectly reasonable.

I have not been able to find an answer to my own problem, though I have observed that distraction and comforting social interactions can make it moderately better sometimes. Perusing through the “recovery” section of this forum, you will notice a consistent refrain: don’t think about DP, get away from these forums, stop trying to “solve” it and get back into life and don’t look back. Sometimes these posts are smug and claim this is THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER THAT WILL CURE US ALL, which of course pisses off those of us for whom that has not worked. But I do think that advice has the greatest success rate. And I haven’t heard of many cases where a materialist approach was completely curative.

The concept of “mind,” as it was understood by philosophers before neuroscientists reified it, essentially refers to the directional locus of our attention. If I’m at a crowded restaurant with many people talking around me, if I am focused and engaged with the conversation of my entourage, I will experience their voices with greater intensity and clarity than all the other sounds going on around me. If I’m in physical pain and I focus my attention on it, I will experience that pain with greater intensity and clarity; focusing my attention on other things helps reduce the experience of pain. If I’m focused on my own thinking, I will experience my internal monologue with exceptional intensity, and external reality itself will feel hazy and distant. It stands to reason that DPDR, in many cases, operates in a similar way.

Long story short, i was merely offering a suggestion on how to interpret this experience, not saying that you are stuck like this for life.
Thanks for clarifying. I definitely do agree that it can maybe be counterproductive to continue focusing on the problem. The first time I "recovered" after I knew what it was I didn't want to talk about it with anyone and did everything I could to not think about the feelings. I think I won't be so lucky this time and and suspect I will keep having episodes until I have discovered the trigger. I suspect stress and anxiety and lack of coping skills... but I guess none of us really know for sure. I also think that DP is like any other mental health condition in that you wouldn't just "ignore" anxiety, depression, addiction, OCD etc you would get professional help or find ways to manage. Although distraction is an important component of all these disorders so is acknowledgement and acceptance.
 

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I don't know how that could happen but my lifestory Is almost identical with yours :D . I experienced dpdr for the first time when i was 18 . It was after the "always stressing and overthinking" episode of my life and smoking weed in High school. It's also the same for me that i had good years having this issue only after heavy alcohol use or after some big emotional problem but it s been lasting with me just for one day or so. But now that i got it back after 6 years for 8 weeks now after dealing with realtionship , financial, working issues made me think about the exactly same things as you are describing in your post . I know that writing or reading forums like this are just making things worse we just have to keep going and forget about it by doing things you love, but i have very bad episode right now and i found it somehow funny despite how miserable i feel right Now, that except few details it almost completely fits with my lifestory , mindset and thoughts that im experiencing atm.
 

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I appreciate the response but I really don't agree with it. I truly believe most of not all people have the potential to recover, or at least find peace with the condition and therefore find a solution. To suggest otherwise is pretty shitty considering its probably the biggest fear for all of us. If you don't believe in a solution then there absolutely wont be one for you. For me I know I do have one and now its just trial and error. I also know how uncomfortable it can be to exists at times, like right now. But I also know what its like to simply exist comfortably- there doesn't always have to be a greater meaning of life. The human body is programmed to heal, and I will hold onto that hope despite my fears.
To say one has the potential to recover is different from saying that they WILL recover, is it not? I think you could be failing to distinguish the two
 

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I think you may have misinterpreted my response, perhaps because I wasn’t exactly clear in what I was trying to say. I was not suggesting this condition is hopeless, or that there is no way to recover. And I certainly wasn’t suggesting that everyone who has this must remain in misery and agony forever and ever.

What I was suggesting is that, when it comes to “mind” problems, it can often be counterproductive to continue focusing on the problem, trying to identify the cause and/or the solution. It’s kind of like how if I say to you “don’t think of a pink elephant,” you WILL start thinking of a pink elephant. Similarly, it may be the case that if you spend your days constantly seeking a solution to DP, analyzing “it” and reinterpreting your entire life through the prism of “it,” then “it” will stay with you. Am I certain about this? Not at all. Perhaps it is a structural issue, at least for some of us. In that case, figuring out what that issue is and what therapies/supplements/activities are likely to improve it is perfectly reasonable.

I have not been able to find an answer to my own problem, though I have observed that distraction and comforting social interactions can make it moderately better sometimes. Perusing through the “recovery” section of this forum, you will notice a consistent refrain: don’t think about DP, get away from these forums, stop trying to “solve” it and get back into life and don’t look back. Sometimes these posts are smug and claim this is THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER THAT WILL CURE US ALL, which of course pisses off those of us for whom that has not worked. But I do think that advice has the greatest success rate. And I haven’t heard of many cases where a materialist approach was completely curative.

The concept of “mind,” as it was understood by philosophers before neuroscientists reified it, essentially refers to the directional locus of our attention. If I’m at a crowded restaurant with many people talking around me, if I am focused and engaged with the conversation of my entourage, I will experience their voices with greater intensity and clarity than all the other sounds going on around me. If I’m in physical pain and I focus my attention on it, I will experience that pain with greater intensity and clarity; focusing my attention on other things helps reduce the experience of pain. If I’m focused on my own thinking, I will experience my internal monologue with exceptional intensity, and external reality itself will feel hazy and distant. It stands to reason that DPDR, in many cases, operates in a similar way.

Long story short, i was merely offering a suggestion on how to interpret this experience, not saying that you are stuck like this for life.
Your second paragraph describes the obstacle I haven’t found myself over. When I’m full blown disassociated like I am now, that whole mind thing feels like a puzzle I can’t solve. I guess you have to look at it this way instead; there isn’t even an “it” that I should not think about. There is no it. The problem can’t be identified because there is no problem?

And so it comes back to how I’m making it a problem, (krishnamurti). If there wasn’t a problem there’d be no puzzle. But going through with that isn’t storing the information as memory which is what I keep doing. It’s so fucking frustrating
 

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Your second paragraph describes the obstacle I haven’t found myself over. When I’m full blown disassociated like I am now, that whole mind thing feels like a puzzle I can’t solve. I guess you have to look at it this way instead; there isn’t even an “it” that I should not think about. There is no it. The problem can’t be identified because there is no problem?

And so it comes back to how I’m making it a problem, (krishnamurti). If there wasn’t a problem there’d be no puzzle. But going through with that isn’t storing the information as memory which is what I keep doing. It’s so fucking frustrating
I do think that when it comes to the problems of the “spirit” or “soul” or “mind” (whichever word you prefer for that general idea), Eastern philosophy has a much better handle on those issues than Western Philosophy does.

The solution to a problem does not always lie in “more and better science” as I’m frequently reminded. Sometimes the solution to a “problem” lies in simply changing our language, changing the way we talk about things, and redirecting the locus of our attention. The solution to the problem of what caused the epicyclic motion of the planets did not come directly from better observational skills or better designed experiments, but by challenging our underlying assumptions about the universe and proposing the blasphemous idea that we just might not be at the center of it all. I think that the solution to the problem of the placebo effect—which just baffles our scientists—requires a similar change in language and perspective.

You are absolutely correct, I think, when you say that there is no “it.” DPDR is not a thing, just like the mind is not a thing, and a hug is not a thing, and the placebo effect is not an effect in the materialist-mechanistic sense of that word. All of these are either actions, or perhaps more specifically, the non-material product of some action.
 
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