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This is long. I would love you to read it all, but if you don't want to, I'd advise to at least skip to my personal tips at the end.

Hello, y'all, my name is Tommy and I have been a sufferer for approximately 2 years. That being said, I've been through 2 phases of depersonalization and derealization. At the beginning, I was starting to feel inexplicably weird after a heartbreaking separation with my high school sweetheart and dealing with a drug addict older brother who had bit off way more than he could chew with a select handful of bad people. At this time I had already been a heavy cannabis user for 4 years, and was starting to dabble in harder drugs with some new friends. My ultimate trigger was when I intranasally (for the first time) ingested some bad mdma. I remember sitting in a chair and thinking, "if it gets any stronger I'm going to lose it" and it got way way stronger over the following 30 minutes and I went into absolute full blown 11/10 panic mode and went upstairs to take a cold shower at my buddy's house. I ended up thinking, "am I alive? Is this all real? Who am I? What am I?" and googled "feels like I am living in a dream" while sitting down and rocking back and forth in the shower. This was when I knew what it was. I ended up walking around they neighborhood with my good friend for close to an hour, and swearing to him that I was dead and I had lost control of my mind and body. I ended up at the hospital but couldn't be seen and this all culminated at my mother screaming at me to "get my ass in the car" while I was sitting in fetal position screaming, outside the front door of the hospital at 4:30 in the morning. That was without doubt the worst and most excruciating depersonalized experience I have ever had. I ended up feeling unreal for a month or two after this, then forgot all about it and continued smoking cannabis heavily. I used cannabis regularly in order to quell my intense general anxiety and daily bouts of panic that I put myself through on a daily basis. My next trigger was about a year later. May 7th, 2017. A date I will never forget. I went out for a night of heavy drinking with a coworker and ended up having a panic attack at a stranger's house. It was one of those attacks where nobody has any idea how you feel, you show no signs, but you feel like you in the middle of losing your mind while everyone around you is having a good time. I ended up getting drunk and playing rockband with a full set of 4 hardcore punk dudes and had a blast. Left at 4am, was in bed by 5am, and woke up the next day at 3pm. I felt unusually depressed the next day, and took a one-hitter to start my day like I had for years prior to make myself feel better. This sent me into another bout of intense panic. I grabbed my skateboard from the trunk of my car and went out in the street to skate and take my mind off of it. It didn't work. I threw my board back in my car, and ran inside screaming and crying, begging my sister to call 911 and take me to the hospital. She called my mother instead and was told to leave me alone and ignore my cries for help. I fell asleep around 4pm, and slept until 7am the next morning. I scheduled an emergency appointment with my doctor, got some antidepressants that didn't work, and Xanax that makes my DP worse, and I have been suffering ever since. There is so much more to this story, even though I've already written a novel. I am just trying to tell my story to people that would understand, and if you are on this forum and reading this, I can safely assume you do. My life is plagued by existential angst, anxiety ridden thoughts, and an utter lack of self-confidence, but I am getting better. I am finally starting to get better.

Now, I would like to give some tips to anyone else who has just begun their trial of suffering.

***Please do yourself a favor and read Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes. This book saved my life. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Thank you Claire. You were an angel to people like me.

1) This experience is just that, it is a trial. Suffering is inseparable from life, and entirely inevitable. I am not telling you to embrace it. What I am saying is, use depersonalization as a tool to test how truly tough and resilient you really are. Do not cower from it. When it starts to hit you, you must learn to say, "give me all you got. I can handle anything you throw at me." Acceptance truly is key.

2) I'm sure you've heard it before, but DPDR cannot hurt you. I know this doesn't help, because you are more likely to be afraid of DPDR causing you to get in a car accident because you zoned out or driving you insane, than you are fearful of the sensations themselves. This is an anxiety symptom. You must work on quelling and accepting your anxiety before you can have any hope of recovering. Remember, you can do whatever you can without DPDR, with DPDR, even though it may not feel like it. Once more, this is a test to see how tough you really are.

3) Overwhelming existential thoughts. I am no stranger to them. "Why does time work? Why is there anything at all instead of nothing? Why am I conscious at all? Why are we confined to this tiny rock floating through space when there is an entire universe out there? How am I alive at all when 99.999999999% of the universe could kill me in the blink of an eye?" These thoughts and thoughts alike run through my head all day long, usually without cessation. I get it. Trust me. But you have to realize, if you weren't alive, you wouldn't be able to ask these questions at all. Things are the way they are because they have to be. On another note, if things weren't the way they were, how else would they be? If we weren't a brain, how else would it work? If it worked any other way we would ask how that works too. I thought these things before I had DP but my reaction to these thoughts was one of curiosity rather than terror and fear. If we reacted that way before to these questions, it is possible to react that way again.

4) This is one of the things that helps me most. I constantly feel as though my movements are not my own. Walking feels strange. Moving feels strange. "How am I walking? Am I doing this? I don't understand. How did I just pick up my phone? It doesn't feel like I'm the one doing it." I'm sure you know what I am talking about. You need to remember. You don't have a body that you move and control. You move according to your intentions, whether consciously or subconsciously. This is because you don't have a body, you are a body.

5) One more on existentialism. "Why do I breathe? Why do I drink water? Why do I eat? Why is there air and water and earth at all?" You have to remember, you are not separate from all of this. You are quite literally one with the universe. You are the universe experiencing itself. I used to find this though enlightening and wonderful, now I find it terrifying for some reason. But I am slowly working my way back to that point of curiosity and awe once again. Curiosity is key to overcoming DPD the same as acceptance is. Become curious. Everything will be alright. The universe isn't going anywhere, you aren't going anywhere. Just enjoy it all while you can. I am a chemist at heart, so the anxiety that the mysteries of chemistry brings me now that I have DPD is hugely depressing to me and I am working back towards that state of awe. But once again, this is my trial and tribulation. Nothing great comes easy.

6) You must learn the difference between what you can and cannot control. A lot of anxiety stems from trying to control things that are out of your power to control. It is tough. It is so tough sometimes when you just want things to go your way. As an example, I'm sure you just want to rid yourself of this terrifying black hole of an anxiety symptom as soon as you can, but you cannot simply wish it away. It is out of your control. What IS in your control, is working towards relieving the anxiety that causes DPDR in the first place. "Wishing it away, enables it to stay."

7) Your mind has been overwhelmed in one way or another. Whether it be constant debilitating anxiety and panic like in my case, or some traumatic experience that sent you into a pit of intense depression and despair like many, your mind has "checked out" in a way. Don't fight this. Give your mind the break it deserves. A large part of accepting DPDR accepting that your mind is begging you for a break. All you need to do is learn to say, "okay, you deserve a break," then you are one step closer to recovery.

I conclusion, I am a sufferer just like many of you. I still fall asleep at night wondering, "what did I do to deserve this? Why me???" I am slowly learning to respond with, "I am glad this is happening to me, because I am going to appreciate life more than anyone and I am going to be one tough motherfucker when I reach the other side. I WILL reach the other side."

You will too.

Please feel free to message me at any time. I am not alone. Neither are you.
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