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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This will be long, but I really really need help so if someone here can be patient with me and respond... Thank you so much.

A little background first: I'm 28 yo female, about to graduate from political science and philosophy with a 3.8 GPA (I say that to show I must have a head on my shoulders even though most of the time I don?t believe it). In the last two months everything has been surreal. I?ve had periods like this before, but this is the worse time ever. I've had to drop all my classes except one, on medical advice. I switch from suicidal to obsessive about theory. I've done a psychoanalysis for the last 6 years. I've seen 3 different doctors in the past 8, no anti-depressant has gotten rid of the suicidal thought, or been able to slow down my thinking. I did research on depersonalization 2 days ago. My head has been spinning with all the information since. I feel like I'm this close to "loosing it".

For about the last ten years I've had "something". I could never put my finger on it or explain it to doctors. Sometimes it was great, sometimes it was horrible. I never knew when the "switch" would happen (let me define switch as the feeling that your thought process is shifting into a different mode...very hard to explain). I've heard of bipolar disorder or "manic-depressive", but the switches in mood I have occur on a daily, often hourly basis. It happens often when people are talking to me, where I drift away and miss half the conversation. Or I'm somewhere and I don't remember how I got there, or forgot what I needed. If I have to speak in public I feel I'm not actually there, I'm surprised that I was able to speak. I am compulsive in many aspects of my life but it doesn?t seem to be the same kind of compulsiveness described during a manic episode.

It started when I was 17 and my parents separated. I came home one day and something was odd in the house. A table was missing here, a sofa was missing there. I thought that maybe my mother had been doing spring cleaning or something. I went in each room and in most it was more bare. On the kitchen table there were credit cards cut in pieces. I remember it just like a movie, sitting down and thinking what to do. For me, the thing that stood out from all the rest in the psychiatric definition of depersonalization is the feeling of "being in a movie". I must have said exactly that a hundred times in the last 10 years.

I became anorexic when my mother left. Finally I could control what I ate and become slim. I remember thinking that. I was convinced my mother's only goal was for me to get fat. I weighed 140 pounds at 17, at 28 I weigh 30 less. We had, as I remember them, such huge servings of home cooked meals. When she made brownies, she cut the 8x8 pan in four and we each had a piece. Except her. She never ate with us. I have no recollection of my mother ever sitting at the table with me and my dad to eat though I realise it is impossible she never did. I understand that eating disorders are a "caused" disorder that I probably developed because my mother, surely, was obsessive about her weight too. It's something I fight against every day now.

There are many things that I have no recollection of. A year later I ran away from home. I ended up, as a minor, in an escort agency. Although it was not so long ago those years are very hard to recall. I've blocked out whole years from my memory. The year my parents got divorced I had a flash back of a sexual abuse incident. I was alone in the car with my dad and I felt uncomfortable and I remember thinking to myself "why am I uncomfortable with my dad". And then it all came back to me. The details of the room, the exact sequence of events, actors, one of my relatives and myself. Could this be the sexual abuse concept that would trigger depersonalization?

I ended up working as an escort for maybe two years off and on. Throughout that time I still went to school. I was prescribed anti-depressants. I had panic attacks on a regular basis. The most surreal experience one can ever have. Everything is in slow-motion. I had two suicide attempts while on anti-depressants. I quit university back then, about 6 years ago. My friend told me about psychoanalysis for help. I followed her advice.

I use words like "I feel like a witness", "I understand differently", "I can't show this to the outside world", "I'm crazy", "How do I know what is real". I feel "crazy" in many ways. I think I'm crazy for thinking ?how am I writing these words?". Like, the "idea" of being able to write, to see, to think is too big for my mind to process. I often find myself wondering how all of it is possible...if that makes any sense! I think I'm crazy because I keep thinking that "I see things differently", that I understand situations outside the situation, as though I was watching the world like a movie, that this is somehow a talent. I?ve been told by many professors that I have a very objective way of doing research by always focussing on both sides of the available material and have what it takes to pursue theory further. I think I'm crazy because I often dissagree that I'm good at anything, or that I actually deserve the grades I get. I don't know what is true anymore, in the world, television, news papers, politicians, ideology, religion. I obsess over political theory and philosophy while everyone else is busy living their life. I feel like time has stopped and I'm stuck in a parallel zone. I think I'm crazy because I recently decided to return to the escort world "on a quest to find the answer as to why I was there in the first place" as I told my psychoanalyst. I have been out of that world completely for the last 4 years. Now I feel more outside myself than I ever have. Certainly doing this work contributes to the two-sides-of-me dynamics. My therapist is aware that this is a dangerous time for me right now.

At the same time, and this again relates to the definition of depersonalization, I know I'm not actually crazy, this is not a psychosis, I'm just allowing my mind to drift away and this is actually controllable if I understand the "cause". Most of the time I?m able to be fully functional and productive. I know I am really there, and that reality really exists. But right now it's hard to switch back to that mode full-time. I always have a front, few people have a clue that I?m this way. That's one of the main reasons this is so difficult. For instance, no one in my family knows about the sexual abuse or the prostitution later on. I even have myself fooled sometimes. Maybe I dreamed up the abuse. What scares me most is that I also know there?s a fine line between sanity and insanity. I'm affraid I am crossing it now.

I hope this was not too long, and that I didn't loose everyone at the first paragraph... This is the first time I explain how I feel. I'm really worried about myself. I'm currently on another type of anti-depressant that my doctor wanted to try. I feel no affect after 3 month. I see him on Friday. I and want to know if I'm just reading myself in psychology case studies or I actually may have this disorder before I speak to him about it.

Thanks
Nancy
 

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Dear Nancy,
Welcome, and thats quite a story. I have several friends with eating disorders, and many of you seem to have lived similair lives. I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of psychoanalysis, but I'll give you tips about things I've learned in the med and premed program at my university. When I first read about dissociation, I was drawn to many websites which spoke of multiple personality disorders, dissociative fugues, uncovering repressed abuse through hypnosis, etc....Fortunately, medical psychiatry doesnt really espouse these ideas. I mean, it scared me to death to think that the dreamlike haze I was in could be a precursor to multiple personalities. I'm trying to say that although you may feel uncomfortable around your father, it may not neccesarily be repressed abuse. If you feel like you've lost time, it may just be that your day has been hazier than most days. I've found that people on this board have 10 times sharper memories than the average college student at my school. They cant remember what they ate for breakfast, because they just dont care. We, on the other hand, check our memories about inane things about 600 times a day. In psychiatry, any truly lost time can mean a partial seizure, so an EEG is done. Sodium pentathol is no longer given to "reintroduce" past memories- too many false ones were being thought up by the patients who were trying to "work with" the therapy. I study as much brain imaging as I possibly can. Alot of dissociative feelings correlate to something called temporal lobe and parietal lobe epilepsy, and in people with no abnormal EEG activity, brain scans still show abnormal brain metabolism in those areas. You may want to try something like Lamictal - it is given by psychiatrists to smooth out different states of consciousness for those with HPPD, bipolar disorder, and most importantly in your case, depersonalization. It isnt necessarily a cure-all, but its a step in the right direction compared with antidepressant therapy, which in my mind, isnt going to do anything at all for you. It can also help if you have any intensely rageful feelings or mood swings, such as people who have borderline tendencies. Good luck, and take care

Peace
Homeskooled
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You put your finger on something I very much agree with. Maybe it was just another factor that caused me to think or feel such and such.... But that something I ask myself questions about all the time too... maybe if I could transpose myself in an entirely different situation I would "think" differently. Maybe I'm making it all up. Seriously. It's like at one point you just don't know anymore.

The incident of abuse I remember clearly only because it came back to me as a clear memory many years later... I'm sure this really happened, but when you think the way people like us do (as you say) it's easy to start doubting the legitimacy of your own memory. We've all had events happen to us in our life, that we told our parents and they remember differently. Eg: I broke my arm running down a hill. reality: I broke my arm falling off a bike. How did my mind tamper with what is true? Or maybe parents have lapses in memory too... but here I go digressing again....

I don't know quite what to think of psychotherapy. I'm often on my guard, afraid of "suggestion". Like maybe these things become problems because we focus on them. Maybe so many people are depressed because they are constantly reminded of depression on Tv. Maybe I think I have this disorder because I read about it yesterday. It never stops. But the difference with actual psychotherapy is that you're the one doing 90% of the talking, so you're not necessarily reconstructing your life. Somewhere inside me I feel as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But at the same time I feel the dynamics of psychoanalysis probably also contribute to the "switches". Everything always has two sides in my world. Part of my problem is this jumping from one conclusion to another, psychoanalysing if you will, everything you do.

I do believe however that when you know of all these possibilities its usually a good indication that you won't fall through the cracks. There is a very strong element of control in my experience. I'm aware of the harm I am doing to myself. I'm always in a way, ahead of myself. I know when I'm entering the "bad" or "unproductive" thinking zone. I just can't stop it from happening. When the suic*** incidents occurred, I think I saved myself by stopping the fury short on my own, realising at one point what I had done. And really, you ask yourself blankly "what have I done". I did not do that. I was "not there".

I feel so tired.

Kinda why I'm here. I know something is going on, but I can't put a word on it. What I really need to know is "is this really serious", in a way beyond the reach of therapy, or am I just creating crisis in my life because I have a particularly imaginative personality.

Why do some people think in circles? Is it a response to events or is it something biological as some people think depression and bipolar disorder are?

So many questions.... I'm sick of questions. I just want to move on with my life and not feel like I'm out of it.

Thanks so much for your answer homeskooled.

Nancy
 

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What a tragic tale, so beautifully written. My heard bleeds for you Nancy. Even through your writing, I can get the feeling of a fragile little creature in need of protection....someone to stop all this terrible madness happening to her. :( It makes me so sad.

Apart from stating the obvious that you have DP, probably with depression and associated anxiety, I can't help much I'm afraid - our symptoms may be the same, but mine are entirely self-inflicted..and besides, I've long recovered from DR.

Speak to people like Janine, and Dreamer, and some of the other longtimers on this board. They are full of superb advise on medication, therapy, approaches to recovery, etc. Get a good doctor, first step, and see what happens from then on. Listen to them, and ACT on what they say.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I am THE fan of psychoanalysis here on the site, and it was the treatment that did wonders for me...but that said, I also do NOT believe very much in recovered memory.

Most of us who got this way (IF it was from psychological causes) were traumatized, not by some horrific nightmarish event like satanic abuse, grin....but by REALITY. The "Trauma" that most likely invoked dp was daily ordinary traumas that had motivated us to wear masks, split self from feeling, avoid reality, live in our heads, try to be everything to everyone alternating with wanting to be dead and nothing, and then waking up one day and not really knowing how much of us was fake and if any of us was real.

THAT Is likely the "traumatic memory" you're searching for.

And the work, the slow and hard work, comes in making peace with reality and learning to really LOOK inside self, in the moment for the passions and longings and fears that we live with and pretend are too ordinary to really matter.

Chances are, the STUFF that lies behind it all is not Fireworks and Hell, but life. Ordinary and real. And it's US who hasn't been able to make peace with living in it. So somewhere back there we began acting so wild, and using our bodies and minds like science experiments....and one day, dp arrives and we wonder why.

Welcome,
Janine
 
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