So I am a 20 year old female, and I recently started having existential thoughts + DP/DR last month.
I remember what triggered it, I was watching a video of WWYD (The TV show) and in it, they discussed the amount of people in America with alzheimers and how serious of an issue it is. I started having an existential crisis about life and living in and of itself. What if everyone around me, including my friends and family, are a figment of my imagination? I told my boyfriend I was having these thoughts and he jokingly replied with "WAKE UP!!" I told him to shut up, laughed, and didn't think about these things for a whole two weeks.
Until I had edibles, putting me into a full fledged panic attack. Oops.
I had edibles in the past, but these ones were so strong that they hit in 30 minutes. I wasn't used to them hitting me this quickly, so I did not think I was high, rather that I was going insane.
My family and boyfriend started to zoom out of my view. Their voices became echoed, muffled. I felt like an actor on stage and my family/bf was the audience. I started thinking about the existential thoughts I had earlier in the month about if life could possibly be one big dream. As I was having these thoughts, everybody at the table turned to stare at me.
I freaked out.
I then jumped out of my chair and walked laps around my house. My vision was blurry, my family suddenly looked unfamiliar, and my heart was racing. I was convinced that I was going to die (?) but how did I know I wasnt already dead?
With the help of my family and boyfriend, I managed to calm down. The good high kicked in about an hour and a bit later, and I continued to go downstairs to play GTA5 and laugh my butt off stuck to the couch.
The next morning, however, was awful.
I still felt a bit high, most likely because I probably still was a little bit. My anxiety was at an all time high, and I knew I couldn't be on my own, so I decided to stay the night with my boyfriend.
On the drive to his place, these thoughts were still in my head. "What if this is all fake?" "What if i'm dreaming this?" "I know i'm not high anymore, but whos to say my whole life hasn't been one big lie?"
As I was wondering what my boyfriend thought about all of this, he placed his hand on my thigh.
Now any normal person would brush this off as, "He can see that I'm worried and wants to console me" but my mind IMMEDIATELY went to "He's doing this because he knows that I'm unstable. I'm in a dream."
This is when little everyday coincidences became triggers for me.
If I saw the same post twice on instagram, I would get anxiety. If I was looking at a meme on twitter and my sister came up to me later and showed me the same one, I would get anxiety. If I was listening to a song, and saw a word on my phone that was in the song, I would get anxiety.
This is when my DP/DR started to kick in. Luckily, I don't have some of the terrifying physical effects people see, like blurry vision, hallucinations, things being more 2-D or 3-D. I was however sensitive to light, and everything just looked unfamiliar. When I looked at my mom, I knew she was my mother, thats obvious. But something about her seemed unfamiliar, and it terrified the shit out of me. I couldn't look in the mirror because I didn't recognize myself. Looking down at my hands and chest gave me severe anxiety. The thought of "I am me. I am a consious being." was so scary. The thought of only being able to experience my consiousness and not being able to prove that other people saw and felt like me made me sick to my stomach.
One thing to note, is that I have had OCD and anxiety, like, my whole life. I've always had little compulsions and tics, and just when my mother thought they were gone, they began to be replaced with new ones (yay!). So a part of me knew this was normal. It was OCD in another form. But this time, it was mental.
Anywho, after being plagued with these existential thoughts for little over a month now, I thought I would tell you guys how I am recovering (Because I know for a fact I'm getting better).
The first thing I tried doing was denying these thoughts. I kept telling myself "There's no way that life could be a dream! That's impossible!" But you need to learn to ACCEPT
these thoughts. I promise, after you accept thoughts like this, it will get better. Matter of fact, life feels and becomes more real when you learn to be comfortable with uncertainty. OCD feeds off of wanting answers to questions that humans do not know and will probably never know. So I learned to be okay with them. "Yeah, theres a possibility that life may be one big dream. But other people on the internet have this worry too, so I'm not alone". The fact that you are looking at this post right now, seeking validation and comfort, MEANS you know deep down that others have a consiousness and are real. Reality is based on human connection and empathy, so unless you don't have love for other people I highly doubt you believe that life is one big dream.
Here are some logical points to denounce solipsism that might hopefully help you:
- Dreams are defined as something that doesn't last forever. They also happen to feel real, but we know deep down that they arent. So the fact that you'd believe life is a dream doesnt make much sense because the definition of a dream does not match reality.
- The theory of solipsism was created to try and understand reality and the things around us. It was developed by a famous philosopher back in the 1600's, so people have been having these thoughts for centuries.
- When you feel bad for someone, or cry because of a sad event, that proves indistinguishably that you are connected with that of the world around you. That denounces the idea of solipsism.
- Our knowledge on things is very limited. I can't do math for shit, and I find physics and history to be difficult and boring as all hell, so how can I believe that I made up this entire world with my mind?
- If this was true and your whole world was a figment of your imagination, you could imagine a flying cat and it would appear, in reality, right in front of you. But it doesnt.
Hopefully this helps a bit. As long as you're aware that it makes more sense to believe that reality is what it is, and not a figment of your imagination, you're not going insane. You most likely just happen to have bad anxiety and OCD. I am currently on Lexapro 10mg, so when it kicks in (which should be about approx. 8 days from now) hopefully it will make a lot of my anxieties in daily life go away.
LADIES!! Birth control also greatly effects your mood and your anxiety. So if you're six months into your birth control and it's finally adjusted into your system, that could be a big reason why. Going off of your bcp can also increase your anxiety. Any
fluctuation in hormone levels messes with the chemicals in your brain. Same with guys, when your testosterone levels are off it can greatly effect your mind.
- Meditation helped me a ton. Downloading headspace helped clear my mind when it wouldn't shut up.
- Time is another for sure cure. The more you fall asleep and wake up everyday, the more you start to come into touch with reality.
- I know people say this and it probably makes you groan and roll your eyes, but getting back into your daily activities is extremely
important. Doing this is a part of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which greatly helps your anxiety and OCD.
So to conclude,
Human life is full of unknown questions and possibilities. Could your life be a dream? Maybe. Could it be a simulation? Who knows. Could it be real and physical like science has taught us? Sure.
But as long as theres a will deep down to keep living, that is what matters. Try to focus on goals you want to acheive. Food you want to eat. People you want to meet. If life on the very small chance happened to be one big dream, make it your bitch.
Only then, in my opinion, will you be able to accept things at face value and snap back to reality as we all know it to be.
Best of luck to all of you going through this. You are strong. You are loved. And most importantly, you WILL get out of this.
I'll be crossing my fingers for all of you <3
Lots of love