So I wrote the below when I had just got to a good point after my crisis with DP & depression. I had forgotten aaaaallll about it until I just came across it on my laptop and started to read it. As I was reading It, reflecting and thought how useful this would have been to me at the time I was really suffering. So I read through it again and made some minor adjustments and also added a 2 year update!! I think this will be a great tool to help others as not only is it about my experience and methods I used but also show it worked for me in the long term. I wanted to post something positive and I even remembering whilst writing it 2 years ago that so much of the personal accounts I had read were depressing in themselves! I wanted to write something with a little humor because humor is a great tool for mental health and recovery. If you can see the humor in something you are seeing the positive and if you are seeing the positive your on a good path!
I hope you can use it as a tool to refer too. I remember finding one account that really gave a sense of calm when I read it. It reminded me that all was cool and groovy. I even printed the account and kept it in my bag to read it again and again if I started to feel strange or panicked. So well.... if it helps you, feel free to print it out and do the same (little pro tip
). Anyway... I really hope it helps somebody.
Please note: If you are feeling physical or mental distress please seek medical advice. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advise but a personal account of MY experience. By seeking medical advise it will help you on your road to recovery)
Depersonalization/ Depression/ Pure O/ Existential Crisis/ Anxiety
First thing to note is that...I have been through this myself. The very deepest, darkest of places I have been.
So I know exactly what it is that you are going through. I believe that is it possible to work through and eliminate all of the above.
The reason why you are here is because you are probably in the midst of everything. At this point you want answers. Desperately want answers!
Let me tell you a bit about me first….
Hi My name is Kate and I really care about you! I'm 23 and live in the UK. It rains a lot but we really do have great television here to make up for it! No matter how old you are this will help you. Male, female whatever just understand that I know what i'm talking about. Let me tell you, this can happen to ANYONE! It's never your fault and that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue at some point. It sucks, it really sucks, but it is solvable and life changing.
Here is what you need to do.
1. Well done for finding this. This shows you know what you want and that you AREN'T MAD! people that are mad do not know they are mad,
You're not even on the path there. The reason you think you are is because of ANXIETY and ANXIETY alone. That's it. really simple old fashioned Anxiety. You probably already know that you are the type of person that has always been anxious. You need to see that all your thoughts now are because of anxiety. You can probably remember a time before all these questions came into your head and now seem to be the most important thing. That time seems great and that's what you want to go back to but now you feel like you have opened pandora's box and there is no going back. Again, classic symptoms or chronic anxiety. Those questions didn't matter to
you before and once you have a hold on your anxiety through normal methods (yes, the same things that they treat people who have chronic anxiety of public speaking) its anchored in the same type of anxiety. It's just when all this started, whatever it was it was the right environment (again, nothing to do with you) for your anxiety to latch onto. It's not the thoughts you are bothered by, it's the anxiety.
2. If there are any thoughts at all that you might think something is wrong. Even if you haven't reached crisis point. GO TO
What I always say is 'if you are asking the question, you already know the answer', same applies here. If you are thinking something
might be wrong. There is something wrong. DON'T PANIC! I know what I just said might instill the massive pang of anxiety and doom. By wrong I mean, a load of life circumstances
(they may have been piling up for a while without notice) have lead you to this point. Your situation is wrong. You are not wrong! You are A OK! It took me to crisis point and a self referral to A+E for me to get help. I didn't think what I had was a problem but that's just the point. The very nature of all of the above prevent you from seeing it, so any inkling you have, take it!
It's you doing the best for you, you are bloody worth it! Tell a friend you trust or a family member (my sister has been the best thing ever through everything, and you can not imagine how close I have become to my dad). Get yourself in front of a doctor!
I promise you they will understand you! I had a brilliant doctor would said 'Babe, you're a beautiful person, there's nothing to worry about, let's sort this baby girl!".
3. Ultimately it's your choice but...Take the medication. I was put on Citalopram and Diazepam. Best thing I could have done. Antidepressants and antipsychotics, bla bla, (way to make a person who is already scared even more anxious with names like that.) ha ha! They aren't scary. Stop thinking about all those films you've seem and documentaries about people 'going mad'.You aren't. It's just you never see a film of a documentary about a regular dude or chick that had a mental health blip and six months later they were ok do you? That's was the industry would term 'a boring story'. Meds don't change who you are, you will still be you and will feel more like you than ever before. Make sure you tell family, friends or the person you have chosen to tell about all your appointments. They will be happy to help you. It might seem hard to even find the motivation to open letters and read them. Keep going! even if you just hand over the letters to them and say, please can you read this. They will understand and help you. Keep going to all your appointments. It will be hard but you can do it!
4. Don't turn to spirituality.
This is a major mistake I made prior to and during my episode. This might take a while to
get out of your head. I do not believe in spiritually. I did do. and now I do not. I shall explain. After I finished uni, I dove straight into the deep end trying my best with everything I could. I'm a smart girl, I have always been A high achiever (i have noted, and this is probably the case with you, "Talented people have tumultuous minds". What makes you so good is also what can go astray. Its ok, this is a blip and you will swap back. Anyway, things didn't go so well, I couldn't get a permanent job, my finances were all over the place, I had to move away from my friends and i got really ill. I wanted a way to feel better. I started to think that my unhappiness came from myself rather than my circumstances. I began my 'journey' into spirituality. I see this as being the point I began to incubate my depersonalization. I started concerning myself with thoughts of anything that wasn't really the reality. I began to disconnect. Meanwhile I worked on 'enlightenment'. It is only once I became truly 'enlightened' (Completely disconnected, unhappy and no self) that I began to realise that what certain types of (not all) spiritually encourages is this: loss of ego (low self esteem, no confidence, lack of care about appearance) shunning consumerism (loss of motivation to have a job, no motivation to do well), selflessness (you stop doing thing you enjoy and generally looking after yourself). Finding like minded people that share the same views on spirituality (distance yourself from friends and family) Enhancing the 'high self' (whilst the here and now becomes miserable). Do you see a pattern between spirituality and depression? I do. I can tell you what true enlightenment feels like, and I have also linked a lot spirtual texts to the same symptoms... Depression and depernsliaztion. Yes its true that you will come out of this a different person, but it's not a case of anything spiritual, it's cold hard real world mental illness and you shouldn't continue to be unhappy. I do believe some aspects of spirituality to be useful. i.e. yoga (which is basically exercise) meditation (which is basically relaxation) and morals (which is just how most of us know how to live anyway).
It disconnects you from your body and environment, changing your perceptions and beliefs (which is a very powerful thing during the time of low mood) Don't believe anything that is making you unhappy. I used to love fashion, it bought be so much happiness I even made it my job. When somebody told me the reason i wasn't happy was because I was partaking in consumerism and materialism and selfish acts. I began to feel guilty for liking it and then slowly started to hate it. The one thing that gave me purpose in life was no more. I used to love going the the gym, to keep healthy but also because I loved the way my body looked. Again this was no more. I disconnected from my identity. I was nothing and it was horrible.
5. Existential thoughts.
This was a biggie for me! a massive biggie because it concerns itself with everything. Every single little thing I could find a question to make me see the situation, person, myself, my thoughts, my body, my family, nature even my cats became a mystery to me.
I got pissed off with everyone online saying the same old thing. 'truth is, we will never know'. ok, THANKS A BUNCH! thats just making it worse, that's why your anxiety and pure O loves it because you can never put it to rest. So it goes round and round in your head as you ruminate on it. Here's how I solved a few of those questions. First you should note that these question WILL NOT matter to you once you work on rebuilding your self esteem, confidence, relationships, environment. They will lose importance and you will go back to how you
see the past you (happy and worry free) in your head right now. It will click back. So... Free will...I felt like I was being controlled, I questioned whether life was already planned out, I thought that it was pointless to make any decisions because I wasn't making the decision. That is not what free will is. Free will is not your ability to choose for yourself it merely means that all the decisions you make are based on your upbringing and past experience and failures. well duh! if we didn't do that we wouldn't sit and ponder what pizza topping to have if we hadn't had them before. Thing is you do make a final decision and sometimes that goes right and sometimes wrong, and that is stored for next time. but the important bit you need to not is that all the decisions are made by YOU! Once you start to connect back to you again this will become even easier to do. You have to also realise that these thoughts only matter so much to you right now because you are depersonalized. You won't give a shit about them once you have healed. Healing takes time, depersonliztion has literally cut off nero paths in the brain. Depression has show to increase inflammation in the brain. So you need to rest it. It will heal with no damage.
The meaning of life…...oh this is a good one. Pure O loves a tricky one like this. I remember it literally paining me when this one came around. Let me tell you. Meaning comes back, it really does. Once you build your relationships, sort out your current stresses, address trauma and stabilize yourself you will be happy. And when you are happy, everything has meaning. But i understand its very VERY hard to see this is you are really in a pickle right now. I felt that there was so little meaning that there just wasn't any point to carrying on. But again, I was wrong. Here is another thing I found to be true. When you can't see meaning in yourself and the world around you. Think this. Along with lots of other meaning that will come back to you once you become less emotionally numb, a basic foundation meaning is...It means something because you mean something to a lot of people. I struggled with the idea of people and humans etc but what I couldn't deny is that my sister, brother , mother, dad, friends, pets cared about me a lot. This is what i used as my guiding light and even in moments of my weirdest thoughts I couldn't deny that they would be extremely upset if I were not around. See the thing is everyone cares about you. Those weird shapes (other people) that might not make as much sense to you as they did before (don't worry that comes back too once you become more emotionally attuned) 90% of them would help you if you needed. Strangers care about you. I care about you! My mum cares about you for lord sake! Use this to begin to rebuild self esteem and then more meanings to life will come back and that stupid ultimate 'what's the meaning of existence' will go back to being an interesting comment that you joke about with friends when someone discovers a funny shaped pringle and you all ponder its meaning for existing but then go back to enjoying the taste. See this question never bothered you before so why has it suddenly become so important. Well, you probably had a nice prime environment and state of mind for all this to happen. But ask yourself, how long is a piece of string? you can't answer it. Does it bother you? nope. Move on. if you are struggling now. As you maintain the will to exit this state. It will happen and you won't care about this stuff because it will all fit back into place. The obsessional thoughts will stop and they anxiety will go with them but it will take time. Again, stick it out ! you are strong! PS: philosophy is great and all but it's really just arguing for arguments sake. Don't try and find the answer or explore the side to each argument. You don't need that right now. what you need is rest, and to watch all 10 seasons of Friends.
6. Other People. Connect.
For me this is what kept me going strong. I'm fortunate to have a close family and friends that I could sit and just let my thoughts stream out. Even at the point where I felt like my body was a shell and I was just a floating voice, the time I was at my lowest and so disconnected I couldn't make sense of people's faces and the rumination had got sooo bad my mind pulled the plug . The only thing I understood was that I loved my family and my friends and that If I was with them, no matter what, even though I had no idea what was happening (I had never heard of DP or pure O or anything until I ended up in crisis) I knew something wasn't right with me and that my family (who I was able to figure, must still feel 'normal' like i did before the attack) would not let anything bad happen to me at that point I stopped trying to fight what was happening and literally gave myself over to my dad; who I was staying with at the time. Bless my poor dad, we had only just gotten past the awkward teenage girl era and now this! But what an amazing job he did and is still doing. We are now closer than we have ever been and it's actually bought my mum and dad (who divorced not on good terms) closer together and has healed us as a family. I mentioned before my sister and I are now the closest we have ever been and I feel a protective bond has developed between myself and my older brother. Never before have I felt love like this. I cherish my friends and although it was hard to motivate myself I knew that even if things didn't make sense, being with friends and family is where I needed to start my recovery. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Even when I was really cut off and scared I imagined if a friend had come to me and confided in me with everything that had happened and even in my unresponsive state I felt the compulsion to help. Friends will help, friends will stick with you and friends will always be there, do not think you are a burden. Keep up to date with them but not just about how you are, do normal things and chat about normal conversation. This is a must for recovery. Often this can be a prime contributor to recovery as it seems to be a prime culprit for the cause of depression, dp, etc. Although I didn't realise at the time, I had to move away from London; where all my friends were, back to a town where i had no friends, no car, no human interaction day to day. Just me and my thoughts. As an introspective kind of person anyway. This combination was lethal. Anyway, I do remember sitting with friends, struggling to keep up and, sometimes becoming anxious, with intrusive thoughts coming and going but I knew I was safe and actually surprised myself with bouts of clarity. Somehow when you find yourself in the situation of social interaction you just get on with it. I even managed to crack a few jokes. If you don't feel you have family and friends you can turn too. There are people out there that care just as much. I have never met you and I care that much, I promise. Find a support group or phone a helpline even if it's just for a chat. I ended up ringing the Samaritans and telling the man all the most mental thoughts I was having, I was crying, shaking completely in bits. He was amazing. so kind, caring and loving and willing to talk to me for as long as I needed. It's now i realise that my lovely boho skirt and chiffon blouse I bought second hand from the samaritans shop were really worth the money! They do brilliant work and if you are in the UK I would recommend giving them a ring if you need to get thoughts out of your head.
7. Connect to your Body. For several reasons, it is now apparent to me that I disconnected from my body about 7 months before my crisis. I became ill and could not train at the gym, my chemical levels dropped and I lost all my libido, viewing my body and a kind of troublesome transportation device that needed feeding (although awkwardly, because I have always had digestive issues) and was always in pain. I didn't not see it as sexual or mine, I got no feelings from seeing myself naked. I stopped dressing according to my personality and tastes, wearing the same outfit when going out and quickly changing into oversized sweats in the house. I removed all mirrors because I didn't want to confront my body. I used to take pride in my appearance and enjoy keeping myself fit and healthy. I did take up swimming and yoga but only because it helped with pain, it was the only thing I could do and didn't go because i enjoyed it. Now this has happened I have been able to forgive my body and really begin to rebuild the connection. I know this is weird but I would recommend standing in the mirror naked and really taking note of yourself. Feel yourself, literally. Smile, and dance about a bit to some music! Then get dressed before the cleaner comes in! haha! After I felt some of my motivation return I started to think more about the food my brain needed to heal and began juicing (although t took every morsel of my being to make it). Take some vitamins if your appetite has been poor and be sure to stay hydrated, especially if like me, you have a funny tummy when anxious and on anti-depressants (it's a side effect). This will help you feel less like you're floating through life and more 'real' in time. I also went out mountain biking which was odd at first. I felt very alien in the environment and still a little puzzled as to why I would do it (i was questioning EVERYTHING!) but i just did it. Even though you might not get emotional feedback in the beginning it's doing you good. I promise, move that booty!
8. CRY.CRY CRRRRRY Let it out! Do one thing for me just google the benefits to crying. It's a real healer. Just as good as the meds you take, I swear. My sister is an actress and every time i spoke to her and started to cry I would try and make myself stop after a bit. One time she just said...don't stop just let it go until you can't cry anymore. wow! the feeling after was amazing. Apparently this is a trick she uses to let out pent up emotions after playing an emotional character. Its cleansing and balancing and also promotes bonding between people. and will create that trust that you will need to know that no matter what that person WILL NOT let anything happen to you as long as you let them know.
9. Don't Force Recovery. This took me a while to get my head around. This is what my thinking pattern was… You must carry on and do things that you used to do before this happened, the more things you can do the quicker you will recover. Even if you do not feel like it, override those feelings and if you don't put in effort you will just get worse. WRONG. For me to realise what I really needed actually took a rather badly timed bout of flu with a terrible chest infection. But… this forced me to stop. to rest, physically. At the same time I actually noted that with the same physical rest to recovery from the flu my obsessional thinking, mood and outlook began to change. I think it important to be able to distinguish between the type of sleep you crave as an 'avoidance technique' and genuine feelings of tiredness. It's not bad to sleep more than usual. Your brain is mentally fatigued from all the overthinking, stress and worry and in the same way we say don't make decisions when you are tired 'sleep on it'. It's because our brains use sleep to tidy up. I had let my brain get very messy! I noted my obsessional thinking and DP got worse when I was tired. I know a lot of therapists say it 'you need to view this like a broken leg and you will take time to recover', but I kind of didn't really believe them but it's true. If you need meds to help you sleep don't feel guilty for it as sleep is one of the most important times for your brain to makes sense of everything that has happened. Especially if you are undertaking a lot of self help (well done!) and therapy sessions , you will need the sleep to help it to 'sink in' so that eventually things that used to require a lot of puzzling are less stress and feel more natural and innate. It's about being able to incorporate all you are learning. I tried other things such as self hypnosis and exercised more than I would have done before and these together just tired my brain out to the point where it made things worse. Exercise is great but don't let you obsessive tendencies (as low dopamine level make you vulnerable to obsessive behaviors) latch onto your recovery process. Obsessively trying to fix things will not work. I found myself thinking I needed to go out and be doing something all the time where as by nature i'm social but I actually enjoy peace a quiet (before my thoughts became so loud) so what I was actually doing in trying to recover was not within my normal nature and tired me. Have confidence in your body and who you know you are. You might not feel like yourself at the moment but its true to 'do you' right now. If you have to take time off work, do it. If you have to stay in bed watching netflix one day or two, do it as long as you do everything with a positive mindset that this is just temporary, slowly day by day you might find that you only watch netflix for half a day and suddenly you want to go the shop. It sounds silly but in depression terms that's a massive WAY TO GO! I swear, it's only when you come out that you realise how monumental those small things were. Be proud to have washed up those plates because even when not depressed I hate doing them!!
10. Be Honest and true with yourself.
Make sure you know that's none of this is your fault but that you actively acknowledge, expand, talk about and come to resolutions (mentally and with physical situations). This is a long process and actually although DP seems like a curse right now, the overthinking nature of it actually made me see things more clearly than ever before. That's why you question everything, your brain is trying to make sense of everything that has happened. The way you were before clearly wasn't sustainable, so it made the executive decision to suspend you. It sent you home from work with a sick note. So in a its very nature it makes you, stop, look around, think and work out what could possibly have done this. Unfortunately much like a cat your brain can't tell you so 'kindly calm down otherwise I will scratch and hiss at you'. It just has to dish out some tough love. I realised how much I has been putting others feelings before myself. I have always seen myself as an empathic person which a great ability to understand others actions and emotions (this is also another personality trait that leaves you susceptible to DP) But this empathy got to the point that even when I was treated horribly by a guy I was seeing on and off for a year, I made every excuse for him, as I could understand his motivations, putting my own innate reactions of pain, and heartbreak on the back burner, suppressing them in the belief that confrontation and anger were bad emotions. This is very clearly now what I realise to be emotional abuse. I realised I had lost my sense of opinion, confidence and assertiveness to an overwhelming desire to please others. My empathy had been abused and I felt hollow. Be assertive in what you want and what you like. Don't let anybody tell you, you should do anything if you want to. If it brings you joy and doesn't hurt others, then go ahead, voice your opinion, dress how you want, aim for that job! I bought a new pair of Dr Martens; which at the time I still didn't see the point in buying things, but actually they made me feel good. They made me feel strong! Don't focus on trying to reinvent yourself, make sure you rebuild the real you first and then go and get that inspirational tattoo later. Because think about it, if you do something radical and then hate it or if you think it's a good idea at the time because it will make you feel better in the moment, make sure you understand that whatever it is might remind you of the horrible period. The best thing is to leave dig decisions to after you have healed.
2 Year Update!
Hi Guys! So i'm just checking it to let you know that all is OK and you will be too! I have re-read all the above and still think that It is the top 10 things to you can do for yourself. I have been able to get on with my life as a better and less stressed person. I see things differently now and probably wouldn't change what happened if I had the option. It's a horrible thing but it made me see what was import to me and what I was focusing on that wasn't worth the mental effort. In regards to the DP, I do occasionally get the feeling but none of the anxiety. I get a little pang and then it goes away, I acknowledge it and let it move on and get back to deciding between shampoo brands. I love who I am now and others have noticed too. I help others but I have personal emotional boundaries when it comes to relationships, friends and even family. I put my health before work and happiness and creativity are flowin'. I do have bad days like every other human does but have not had a relapse. Things did get a little shaky when I found myself out of work but now I have dealt with the above I have the mental tools and support system to keep my head about water. I have learnt a lot about myself, my triggers (please make it a priority to figure yours out, it will help you to put sense and correlation between situations and emotions) and my strengths and weaknesses
I hope this has helped you! I know that in my dark times I wanted to read other people's experiences. I wanted support and stories of other that we're doing OK. So I hope mine has helped you. If you have not already I urge you to please seek medical advice if you feel troubled physically and/or mentally. I am not a doctor and this is purely personal opinion and an account of MY experiences. Every body is different and you might need something the is especially recommended for you.