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I believe it was Christmas day 1999 when i first experienced depersonalization/derealization. I think i was around 16 years old. I decided to smoke weed with my Uncle, Brother and cousins in my uncle's van. My uncle had some weed from Jamaica. He called it the dog's teeth because supposedly it had a distinctive bite to it. I boarded the van and sat in the back. At first none of them wanted to pass the joint to me but after the first joint everyone was so ripped out of their skulls that the second joint found its way to me with no resistance. I had a few hits and when i exited the van my whole world changed. I felt differently. My environment became artificial. This continued the entire night and I absolutely freaked out. I fell asleep in my mom's lap and woke the next morning back to normal.
This feeling or experience would repeat itself each time i smoked weed. You would think that I would have stopped after the first or even the second time. The final time, however, i went to the ER because i thought i was certainly going to die. Each time, however, I recovered.

When I had my first panic attack . The feeling (depersonalization/derealization) returned. But after the attack passed the feeling would subside. I continued to have panic attacks and the feelings would again arise and subside but for some reason the attacks came more frequent and i was always on the cusp of a full blown panic attack. The feeling just lingered - even in the interim periods. I had the feeling for almost a year. To varying degrees of intensity. When I was diagnosed and placed on medication the feeling and the anxiety for the most part went away.

In August 2016, i had a massive panic attack and the feeling came back and has increased in intensity since that time. The feeling is now always present. The anxiety attacks are less frequent and only get triggered when the feeling is particularly unbearable. There has always been a link between the two sensations/experience (Anxiety and depersonalization/derealization). The one sustaining the other. No medication has worked since the August 2016 experience. I increased my original SSRI (Paroxetine) to no avail. I tried a different SSRI (Sertraline) but had to discontinue. I am now on a new SSRI (Fluoxetine) but the jury is till out on that one - it has, however been nearly 4 months. The only medication that gives some relief is clonozapam. I rarely, if ever use these on a frequent basis. I am aware of the risks. I continue to engage in psychotherapy and mindfulness practice. I walk everyday and maintain a vegetarian and fish diet. I have a care team made up my GP, psychiatrist, and therapist.

I am looking into an out-of-country assessment from a specialized clinic in London, England. It's a bit pricey but i'm willing to save towards it. My GP supports it.

This feeling limits my life in significant ways. I am unable to drive as frequently as i would like. I avoid social outings, malls, public transportation, airplanes, and if do engage in these activities it's with great discomfort and fear. It sometimes affects work - but thankfully i am able to go to work and bear the discomfort. I feel it at home. It only subsides when i'm asleep. I dread waking up to it. I am not, however, suicidal. I love life, despite the feeling. I just dislike the anticipation of the day ahead and it's pending discomforts. I persist, nonetheless. I will never give up. Even though there are days when i feel hopeless.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
 

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Hello Yaadman 82. About the biggest suggestion I could make (not only for you but for anyone suffering from DP/DR) is to find a doctor that truly understands this horror. I know this very well, and it has taken me years to find a doctor that truly works with me to treat the DP while also treating depression, anxiety, etc. Another suggestion is to find younger doctors, which sounds strange since one would think that the older doctors have more experience with mental illness. However, it's your younger doctors (even one who has just finished their internship) that are itching to learn more so they are more apt to work with you on the DP.

Another big suggestion is this: find out as much as you can about your illness (books, journal papers, psychiatric websites like Psychology Today, etc. There is obviously a wealth of information on this site so look at topics that seem to mirror your problems. Quite frankly, learning much about DP is actually even more important that finding a doctor since you will hear lots of BS and you need to understand in order to counter what they say. I was even thrown out of a psychiatrist's office once because I challenged him on nearly everything he said simply because I was armed with correct information, but his ego was much more important than my illness.

I have now found an amazing YOUNG doctor that truly listens to me AND is willing to learn more about DP as we go along. It's as if we are both learning about DP/DR together in a way, and for the first time after years of suffering I finally feel that I am beginning to recover because of a combination of drugs and psychotherapy. But make no mistake - my doctor is extremely intelligent, and I in no way want to give in impression that I am basically teaching her. And for the first time I truly feel that I am going to recover completely.

I wish you much success on your road to find your way out of DP/DR.
 
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