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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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