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Hello, 20yo girl here.

Three years ago I made a panic attack that led me to a dissociative disorder + depersonalisation/derealisation and this completely ruined my life...

I was 17yo back then, freshly graduated from high school and happy to begin my college life as a student but one day I had to make this big panic attack that completely shook my mind and changed my way of seeing life in an instant.

Then, for months I was in a dp/dr state + I constantly made existential crisis : I failed my first year of college, not because it was hard but because my mind wasn't there I was empty so like it wasn't me anymore and I constantly skipped classes to stay in my house. I felt like I was separated from my past and I was disconnected from the reality, from the society, from the world. I had memories from high school but at the same time I felt like I've never been there.

Then progressively, months later, I begin to return to a "normal state", I still felt like I was disconnected from my past but I stopped making constantly existential crisis and I start to move on, to live my life. I finally pass my first year of licence with, with a 2nd try, but I had to make a lot lot lot of efforts to do so and at the same time I became kind of a "couldn't give a fxck", it was a way for me to forget my worries. The negative part is that I became so much of a "couldn't give a fxck" I failed my second year of licence because this time I would skip classes thinking "Does it really matter actually ?"
So I wasn't still "myself" but at least I wasn't in a dp/dr state no more.

This lasts 3years. This October I made a panic attack which led me again to this crazy dp/dr disorder but this time, well wait a minute idk how to explain... You know in Witch shows when the character casts a spell that puts them in a bad situation and they are like "What If I cast the same spell again, maybe it would reverse the situation ?" Well making this dp/dr disorder for the second time kind of make me find back this part of my 17yo self who went away back then and.... this was horrible

Since then I'm completely lost, I feel like now there're two people in my body : The motivated 17yo young girl and the current and more "'mature" 20yo young woman that "moved on" and I'm so confused right now.

To picture it more clearly I feel like a part of my 17 years old was in coma and then suddenly woke up three years later In the body of a 20yo, with a lot of new memories, new experiences, new knowledge, and the 17yo is sad because she wasn't there to discover all that.

At the same time I feel like I quit high school only yesterday and not 3 years ago, the memories now I feel like I was there but like if it was really recent and thinking that it've been actually several years makes me dizzy, I wanna vomit ???? I LITERALLY feel it like that, and not like someone who is 45yo now and would say "Oh I feel like high school was yesterday!" In a nostalgic way

I'm so lost, fortunately no I wasn't literally in a coma but there's this part of me today that feel like she skips 3years of her life, that's so crazy my mind is blown up now.... Like the one who lived the 3 last years wasn't really her but someone else....
I can't believe something like that is happening to me, I'm really not comfortable with myself, I really don't know what to do, life became so much weird to me and it's so hard to describe how I feel.

For real, I sometimes think about ending my life because it became senseless but a part of me know I wouldn't do that because I love my family and I think that's the only thing that keeps me alive....

This 17yo who just woke up inside me is so sad, she was so motivated, so ready to start her adult life and now she doesn't understand how she got there, in the body of a 20yo who's life failling is appart.

I mean, imagine a case I would nove of have dp/dr but J well I wouldn't be sad (or not a lot) because at least I but right know I feel I didn't even have the chance to try because it WASNT ME, I mean it wasn't my true self....

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Hey there,

Thanks for sharing your experience with dissociative disorder DP/DR.

Much like you I'm in my early 20s (22 to be exact), my illness developed throughout my adolences (13-19) and I too suffered from issues regarding the concepts of myself.

I thought my dissociations were personality disorder, and I had some type of cold alter ego that I was suppressing. This made it difficult to understand that just because Im existing separate of my emotions that doesn't make it not me. Emotions are not only an important way of interacting humans, your environment and many other areas of your day to day life but they are important for helping you perceive. When they start to become absent, I find one usually starts experience more frequent disconnect, even exaggerated feelings of disconnect because its a foreign occurrence which is negatively impacting your ability of perception. Struggling with managing feelings coming and going is something I still have issues with (because its just objectively hard) but it is really important to remember its an issue of perception, and that your emotions are not gone for ever, nor will they be, its just they are out of your stream of consciousness temporarily.

A trick I found worked for me is remembering the philosophical idea "I think, therefore I am" because it highlights that:

A) One does not require emotion but rather thought to exist

B) Just because a thought doesn't have accompanying emotion doesn't make it not your thought

C) Its not bad to have a thought without emotions, because good and bad is perceived not objective. example : I like running for the sake of running not because its enjoyable or its good or bad but Its something I want to do and it is what it is. Personal preference, and self determinism.

When it comes to feeling like a different version of yourself from another time, I found acceptance of your current state is an obstacle you can see effects many people on this forum but a common issue with that is when you look to accept without understanding. The human body and mind do not like the unknown, its why most people have an inherent fear of the unknown, so when trying to accept something without understand it, it leaves little to fall back on when your body rejects understanding due to issues with perception which is what DP/DR are. Feeling again will come and go, what matter is when it comes you put effort into reenforcing that state, meaning when you feel it, focus on it, understand it, enjoy it, use all sense possible. To give you an Idea of what I mean, hunger is one of the things I lack feeling of and at one point I barely could eat more than 500 cals in a day without 400 being force ate, but the first thing I do was when I get hunger, I tell myself its a medical order stop everything and focus on feeling of hunger & eating, pay attention to all the aspects of the food you are enjoying, smell, texture, consistence, variety use every and all senses you have if possible. Now I can eat a 1500 - 2000 cals but there are still days I don't feel hunger, none the less big improvement and Ill hopefully have it back with in a years time at current pace of treatment and treatment style.

Lastly I found for myself the concept of "a true self" is something to be very cautious around. Its kind of liars paradox, by which I mean if you acknowledge that currently you aren't your "true you", it means you can't be your true you because that is in-fact the only true self that exists; in the moment not the past or the future. Past and future are again something perceived not objective. You can remember/re experience/ re imagine the past, you can calculate/ imagine/ forward think the future but one can not exist in either. Not to say they don't exist obviously, I just found for myself understanding where the solutions and thing I can do for myself are, and there are in the present not in the future or past. I learnt this from dealing with a sort of hero complex I had as a fallout of C-PTSD. I always remembered thinking of this hero version of myself as being stronger, better, more capable than that of my actual self that I could never be. That was until I realized that was the person I wanted to be deep down and only until I started doing those actions in the present did that confliction dissipate as there was no longer a conflict between future / past / present me. There were hurdles to hop when reconnecting that vision of a true self by to ones self; (A) weeding out the unrealistic standards I set for my "true self", (B) Understanding implications of the past on the idea of "true self", (C) and just cutting yourself tons of slack because you are only a single human and can't do everything alone especially when deal with an illness the professional community acknowledges needs more research.

The main thing for me is perseverance and understanding, not fighting it as a win or loose war against something we know little about. I hope anything I've said could be of benefit to you, and wish you all the best on your journey to becoming better again.
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